Come See Smart Growth In Action On Saturday, May 3
Join Vision Long Island, business leaders and local government officials and learn about actual Smart Growth projects happening on Long Island.
The first annual Smart Growth Saturday is May 3, and projects from six communities will be on display to the public. All tours gather at 11 a.m. for a brief presentation before leaving at 11:30 a.m.
Town of Islip Councilman Steve Flotteron will lead the Bay Shore tour. Meeting at Greenview Properties on Shore Lane, his contingent will examine Chelsea Place, 5 Shore Lofts, Chatham Square and Boulton Center.
In Farmingdale, Village officials and Vision Long Island Executive Director Eric Alexander will meet at Village Hall on Main Street. They will tour Jefferson Plaza, Main Street, a new pocket park and rejuvenated retail.
Long Island Business Council’s Bob Fonti will lead the Huntington contingent after meeting at the Paramount. Participants will examine the Paramount, new residential and mixed-use development, the Gerard Street roundabout and other projects.
Mineola Mayor Scott Strauss will lead the tour through his village. After meeting at the LIRR station, they’ll check out the Hudson 140, Mineola Properties apartments, the Marquis, the Winthrop, LaunchPad, the intermodal facility and more.
In Patchogue, Mayor Paul Pontieri, Trustee Lori Devlin and GRB Development’s Mike Kelly will meet at the Riverwalk on Lager Lane. Their tour will examine the Riverwalk, Copper Beech Village, New Village, Artspace and more.
Finally, the Westbury team will be led by Mayor Peter Cavallaro. After meeting at the Space at Westbury, they’ll tour the Space, Horizons, and various mixed-use developments and multi-family housing.
Tours are free, but space is limited and reservations are required. Contact Vision at 631-261-0242 or via email to register.
Former Yankee Peddler Unveils 'Suite Pieces' Rebranding
Sometimes just a new coat of paint can breathe new life into something old.
Formerly the Yankee Peddler, Suite Pieces is celebrating the grand opening of their Huntington Station store this weekend. Owner Amanda Peppard said the building is still home to dealers of antique and vintage wares, just with a new look.
“We’re doing a whole rebranding. We’re changing the name and we’ve changed a lot on the inside,” she said.
The ground floor of Yankee Peddler had 20 dealers selling vintage clothing, furniture, jewelry and other goods. Upstairs, Artists in the Attic opened 14 studios for rent.
Peppard created Suite Pieces with Brooklyn furniture dealer Corina Gomez in 2012 after a chance meeting. The first store was a small location in Brooklyn, selling vintage furniture. Meanwhile, Peppard had a business selling special paint and hardware for DIY furniture jobs out of Yankee Peddler for two years.
“I sell a line of products for you to redo your furniture yourself. That’s what a lot of people are doing,” she said.
When the Huntington Station building was recently up for sale, Peppard missed the opportunity to purchase it. The new owners, however, had no interest in managing the dealers and noticed the furniture paint store was very successful. They asked her to take over day-to-day management of the coop.
Renovations began in March with physical work. They closed five days to rip up carpets, paint floors and take out peg board. Other jobs have been going around since, albeit just around ongoing business. The changes also came with the new Suite Pieces name and a focus on upcycling furniture.
“We’re really into reinventing old into new and encouraging women to tackle projects themselves,” she said.
Artists in the Attic is also getting in on the action, now going by Studios at Suite Pieces.
The changes are also part of the Huntington Station revitalization effort. Peppard contacted Renaissance Downtown early in the process about her concept; they responded helping her with marketing and obtaining permits. Happy to work with customers, she added the potential to make a difference in the new neighborhood is exciting.
“I hope we can be an anchor and start a new trend.”
Huntington ZBA To Consider More Mixed-Use Development
While construction is underway on a sizeable mixed-use project along Gerard Street in Huntington village, another bank of downtown housing could be coming.
An application is in front of the Town of Huntington Zoning Board of Appeals to create 14 new apartments over a fitness center. Located at the corner of New York Avenue and Gibson Street, the application calls for existing second-story office space to be converted and expanded into six two-bedroom apartments and one single-bedroom apartment. A new third floor would hold seven more apartments.
Monthly rent would be approximately $2,500, according to sources familiar with plans.
Property owner Greg DeRosa also owns a .4-acre vacant lot across the street, which would be converted into a gated parking lot for 28 cars, if approved.
DeRosa’s attorney, James Margolin, confirmed the Zoning Board has the plans but has not weighed in yet. They’re next scheduled meeting is May 1.
“Hopefully they’ll make a decision on the application that’s favorable to us,” Margolin said.
Large Turnout For Dowling's 5th Annual LI Youth Summit
More than 350 high school students from 26 districts across Long Island participated in the 5th annual Long Island Youth Summit (LIYS) at Dowling College on April 4.
This year’s slate of workshops were: Bullying, Cyber Bullying and Social Networking; Teens and Abuse of Prescription Drugs; Teen Mental Health, Self-Esteem and Well Being; Protection of Water and Open Space; Renewable Energy; Living on Long Island: Economic Development, Community, and Housing; Race, Class, Education and Economy; the Impact of Hurricane Sandy and Leadership.
The goal of the LIYS is to work with the brightest and most active students to find innovative solutions to socio-economic and socio-medical issues affecting Long Island. During the conference, students work with experts in the fields of medicine, government, civic activism, economics, and the environment to address such issues as bullying, abuse of prescription drugs, mental health and self-esteem, water, renewable energy, Sandy recovery, economic development and housing, race, class and leadership.
Dr. Adam Aponte, director of North Shore-LIJ’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, touched on social inequalities illustrated through access to health care. Young people think differently and are more apt to embrace change than older generations, he said, which is important to solving health inequities. Aponte said America is becoming so diverse there will be no majority come 2040. And yet, he said the infant mortality rate in East Harlem is 9.5 percent compared to just 4.5 percent in the Upper East Side when the neighborhoods practically border each other. Education, culture, language and race all play a role, Aponte said, and the time to embrace diversity in all facets of life is now. More diverse populations create more ideas and solutions. The director also emphasized the importance of positive support for everyone. When he grew up as a poor Puerto Rican child, he found support in his dream of becoming a doctor from his friends and family, even after a ninth grade teacher told him not to aspire so high.
“Our goal is to engage students as early as possible in creative thinking about issues that affect Long Island,” said Dr. Nathalia Rogers, director of the American Communities Institute at Dowling College. “We’re looking for the development of future leaders in our communities and the Summit is the first step in the process. The Summit is also a great example of a public/private partnership among organizations in the fields of health, education, business, and policy that brings together resources for the purpose of giving young people the tools that they will need to succeed in the future.”
During the day of the Summit finalists and their teachers participated in nine workshops with 23 experts in the areas of business and economics, governance, housing and transportation, environment, socio-medical issues, race and education, and non-profit and civic activism.
After completing their topic workshops, the participants convened for a joint final session and the awards ceremony where they presented their workshop recommendations. The summary of recommendations from each workshop is provided below.
The Environment Issues 1: Protection of Water and Open Space workshop was moderated by Executive Director Adrienne Esposito and Executive Programs Manager Maureen Dolan Murphy from the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, along with H2M Water President Dennis Kelleher.
Water, participants agreed, is one of the most important environmental issues facing Long Island. Underground aquifers are the only source of drinking water, which is slowly becoming contaminated. Nitrogen levels increased by 200 percent between 1978-2005 in Suffolk County. Other pollutants, pesticides and volatile organic compounds have also been found in groundwater.
The group decided that education is the best solution to protect Long Island’s water, with so many people still unaware they only drink the water beneath their feet. More than half of medical facilities on Long Island still flush medicines down the drain and high nitrogen levels lead to algae blooms that kill fish and wildlife.
The Environment Issues 2: Renewable Energy workshop was moderated by PSEG Manager John Keating, EmPower Solar Community Programs Manager Tara Bono and Northrop Grumman’s Dr. Donald DiMarzio.
When panelists asked teens what they discovered while researching their projects, the discussion touched on geothermal energy. They discussed how a few thousand Long Island homes already use geothermal heating and cooling. Teens also said hydro power is possible on Long Island by funneling rain water into a channel that can turn turbines. Similarly, they agreed tidal and wave energy would also be a good fit considering the significant shoreline.
When the moderators asked what obstacles there are to renewable energy, students cited the cost of solar power, adding that banks are now offering loans to help with installation costs. They also discussed the lack of education when residents are unaware of available options. Public outcry, the teens added, is also an obstacle. Some went after the proposed Jones Beach wind farm because they could lose their view of the ocean.
The discussion ended with a consent that renewable energy homes are becoming more of a trend on Long Island.
Under the guidance of Impact of Hurricane Sandy workshop was moderated by Neighbors Supporting Neighbors Executive Director Kim Skillen, Friends of Long Island contractor Jon Siebert and Islip’s Deputy Incident Commander for Emergency Response Joseph Badala, students in the Impact of Hurricane Sandy workshop examined how the historic storm continues to affect Long Island.
Students and experts considered how microgrids with local power generation could keep the lights on in essential structures, burying power lines would prevent future outages but carry a large price tag, creating barrier beaches and marshland would protect the mainland from storm surge and why crying wolf on storms like Tropical Storm Irene left many Fire Island residents refusing to evacuate.
“People won’t leave their homes anymore,” Badala said.
Going forward, they agreed child health will be a long-term need, especially as kids pick up on parents’ stress in picking up the pieces, homeowners need to meticulously remove mold spores before rebuilding, grassroots community organizations are better equipped to handle future problems and that Long Islanders can help themselves by having the knowledge and an emergency kit ready before the next disaster.
Guided by Roel Resources President Ron Roel, Islip Councilman Steve Flotteron and D&F Development Group Principal Peter Florey, Levittown, Eastport-South Manor and Three Village School students participated in the Living on Long Island: Economic Development, Community and Housing workshop.
When asked why they selected economic development, one teen said he was interested in Smart Growth and believed it could promote “slumping” areas like St. James and Mt. Sinai. Another student described Manorville, which lacks a commercial hub – as just a rest stop on the way to the Hamptons. One Levittown teen was jealous of relatives in Northport for their Main Street compared to the big companies littering Levittown.
The group also touched on the students’ future careers and livelihoods on Long Island. A Manorville teen said he was concerned how small businesses can be successful on Long Island without a commercial center. Roel chimed in that 98 percent of the island’s 95,000 businesses actually have less than 20 people.
Transportation was another popular topic in this workshop. Not only is there a lack of north-south connections, they said, but Superstorm Sandy made it impossible to travel with the gas shortage. Trains are the primary source of public transportation, but the East End needs more mass transit.
A dozen students discussed Leadership with Vision Long Island Executive Director Eric Alexander, North Shore-LIJ’s Berthe Erisnor and Governor Cuomo’s Suffolk County representative Scott Martella.
Alexander warned that leadership is not for the faint of heart, as it involves putting yourself into a situation without the guarantee of success. But these teens were unperturbed, sharing their own stories of struggles and successes in both personal and academic goals. One student challenged her school to offer more assemblies on bullying. Despite the district’s apprehension, she pushed forward and made them a reality.
Martella reflected on some of history’s powerful leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. who were able to make changes despite not holding a position of power. One teen said she recognized leadership in a young child while on a church mission, while another said she and her parents displayed leadership applying to unattainable colleges.
Good leaders, Alexander said, are good people with the flexibility to do the right thing. That can include stepping back and recognizing someone else’s leadership. And by the end of their conversation, the group agreed that sincerity and strength coming from hard work and positive values are the most important components of leadership.
The Race, Class, Education, and Economy workshop was moderated by Dr. Nathalia Rogers, Director of the American Communities Institute at Dowling College, and Diana Coleman from the Nassau County Economic Opportunity Commission & Long Island Progressive Coalition (LIPC).
Participants in the workshop acknowledged that Long Island remains one of the most racially segregated areas of the United States and that growing social and economic inequality is impacting young people in a negative way. Some solutions that students proposed included: creating educational courses about value and achievements of different cultures and teaching these courses starting from early childhood. This will allow students to develop a more educated perspective on other cultures that may differ from perspectives of their parents. Participants emphasized the need for the state to provide more resources to high-need schools through significant subsidies for afterschool programs and academic clubs. Creating school districts that will include racially and economically diverse school population may also help to reduce social inequality. Bayshore School District and Harborfields School District could serve as examples for such high achieving, diverse school districts. In addition, creating school partnerships where high-need and low-need schools would partner through joint clubs, events, sports teams, and half-day cross-school curriculum may reduce racial stereotypes and contribute to better learning for everyone. State and federal tax breaks for small businesses that will be willing to relocate and/or open in high need school districts will help those districts to receive higher revenue.
The Socio-Medical Issues 1: Bullying, Cyber-Bullying and Social Networking workshop was moderated by Dr. Barbara Meyers, Dr. Alison Tebbett and Dr. Amanda Riisen from the North Shore-LIJ Health System.
Participants of the workshop focused on strategies to prevent bullying and violence in high schools. Students recommended education should be provided to students, parents, teachers and community members about how to handle bullying (including Dignity for All Students Act), not just once, but throughout the school year in a variety of settings inside and outside of school and formats that would include lecture assemblies, fliers and skill building activities. Instead of being a passive bystander, students should work to be more active in situations where bullying occurs. For example, students can stand up for the victim, tell the bully to stop, distract/divert the bully in a positive way and/or seek support from adults. Also, students should be given education from the school on how to become more involved. It is important to foster a school culture which rewards students for positive social inclusiveness and acts of kindness: one high school has a newsletter which gives students recognition for this, another school has peer support groups where students can meet with peers to discuss instances of bullying. Bullying prevention strategies are most effective when applied to children when they are young -the earlier the better. Participants of the workshop encouraged teaching tolerance and inclusion early on to discourage cliques, exclusion and discrimination of others because of race, religion, socio-economic status, gender and/or sexual preference. Internet can become a useful tool to connect with children around the world to better understand and respect cultural and societal differences as well as similarities. Teachers and peers can also make students aware of websites where children who are bullied can share their stories and not feel alone.
The Socio-Medical Issues 2: Teens and Abuse of Prescription Drugs workshop was moderated by Dr. Stephen Dewey from the North Shore-LIJ Health System.
In this workshop students focused on the importance of safeguarding and proper disposal of prescription drugs, and peer to peer management of drug abuse issues. Many health care facilities such as nursing homes do not have an opportunity to properly dispose of prescription drugs. More programs are needed to collect unused prescription drugs from both private homes and institutional facilities. Participants discussed the need to create peer-to-peer groups that will focus on negative effects of prescription drug abuse. Peer-to peer counseling is often the most effective form of prescription drug abuse prevention.
Meanwhile, the Socio-Medical Issues 3: Teen Mental Health, Self-Esteem and Well Being workshop was moderated by Denise Ingenito, LCSW, Director of Counseling at Dowling College, and Louis Medina, LCSW, from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services.
One of the issues discussed in the workshop was that young people feel that they generally have a more receptive view on seeking counseling for mental well-being issues but are often shut down by their parents/caregivers when they intend to seek such counseling. They identified that there is a stigma attached to mental counseling. Students wondered how this stigma could be removed so that their parents/caregivers would allow them to get the support they need when they need it. During the discussion of self-esteem issues, students honed in on the decision making process that each young person went through to determine the choices (whether positive or negative) they made when feeling low about themselves. They identified seeking the guidance of someone who they deem a positive support and role model as being instrumental in making the right decisions. Students spoke at length about negative messages they all have received at one time or another from a parent, a coach, a teacher or a peer and how that impacted them. They came to the conclusion that even one positive person in their life could outweigh significant negative forces and for the youth who participated in the workshop, this made a huge difference.
The following students won awards for their original projects submitted to the 2014 Long Island Youth Summit:
Overall Best Project of the 2014 LIYS:
Anushka Roy and Deanna Pereira, Comsewogue High School, for their original Anti-Bullying Video. (Teacher: Ms. Casey)
Best Project in the Bullying and Cyber-Bullying category:
Emilysia Almonacy and Erika Baier, East Islip High School, for their original video about Bullying. (Teacher: Mrs. Neri)
Best Project in Social Networking Category:
Diana Sherwood, Eastport South Manner High School, for her essay on Social Networking. (Teacher: Mr. Farrell)
Best Project in Teens and the Abuse of Prescription Drugs Category:
Natalia Eugene and Michelle Urrutia, Ward Melville High School, for their essay on Prescription Drug Abuse. (Teacher: Ms. Kane)
Best Project in Teen Mental Health, Self Esteem and Wellness Category:
Maddy Ulrich, West Islip High School, for her essay about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder among Teens. (Teacher: Ms. Morgigno)
Best Project in the Water Protection Category:
Dinko Franceschi and Benjamin Winston, Ward Melville High School, for their essay on Protection of Clean Water. (Teacher: Ms. Kane)
Casey Nevins and James Nevins, Comsewogue High School, for their essay on Protection of Clean Water. (Teacher: Ms. Casey)
Best Project in the Renewable Energy Category:
Katerina Baduk and Monica Rahman, Ward Melville High School, for their essay about the Importance of Renewable Energy. (Teacher: Ms. Kane)
Best Project in Race, Class, Education, and Economy Category and the Southwest Airlines Award for an Outstanding 2014 LIYS Project:
Eric Van Deusen, Kings Park High School, for his essay on Racial and Social Inequality. (Teacher: Mr. Clifford)
Best Project in the Category of Living on Long Island: Community, Housing, and Transportation
and the SouthWest Airlines Award for an Outstanding 2014 LIYS Project:
Marisa Bellacosa, Sarah Brennan, Kelly Cannon, and Caroline Hesse, General Douglas MacArthur High School, Levittown, for their original video on the past, present and future of Levittown. (Teacher: Dr. David Friedman)
Best Project in the Category of Hurricane Sandy
and the SouthWest Airlines Award for an Outstanding 2014 LIYS Project:
Samantha Calzone, East Islip High School, for her photo album and essay on the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy. (Teacher: Mrs. Neri)
Anthony Diesu and James Burke, East Islip High School, for their Power Point presentation about an economic, social and environmental impact of Hurricane Sandy on Fire Island. (Teacher: Mrs: Walsh)
Catherine Leard, Comsewogue High School, for her essay about the environmental impact of Hurricane Sandy. (Ms. Casey)
Best Project in the category of Art:
Ryan Cleary, Longwood High School, for his original Anti-Bullying Drawing and Essay. (Teacher: Mrs. Gerard)
Best Project in the Category of Mixed Media Art:
Connor Bailey, Kings Park High School, for his original mixed media art work on the topic of Teens and Prescription Drug Abuse. (Teacher: Mr. Celeste)
Best Project in the Category of Photo Art:
Bianca Rivera, Longwood High School, for her series of original photographs about the Impact of Hurricane Sandy. (Teacher: Mrs. Bussewitz)
Southwest Airlines Award for an Outstanding Project in the Category Living on Long Island:
Samantha Jablonski and Luke Lotardo, Eastport South Manor High School, for their essay and drawing about Smart Growth on Long Island. (Teacher: Mr. Farrell)
Sponsors for the event include North Shore LIJ, Southwest Airlines, Estée Lauder, Posillico, PS&S, H2M, RWDSU/UFCW Local 338, Harras Bloom & Archer, D&F Development, LI Business Council, Joy Squires, CCE and Vision Long Island.
“Southwest Airlines is thrilled to have joined forces with the team at Vision Long Island at this year’s Long Island Youth Summit – the talents and creativity displayed by local students was extraordinary. We hope those students who were awarded tickets from Southwest plan exciting excursions with their families to celebrate their accomplishments,” said Jill Simonson, regional leader of Community Affairs & Grassroots for Southwest Airlines.
For more information about Dowling's Youth Summit, check them out online. Check out press coverage from Smithtown News here.
Jefferson Plaza, New Village, IDAs Honored By LIBN
Real Estate professionals gathered at Crest Hollow Country Club earlier this week to celebrate Long Island’s best deals of the year.
Fifty-two awards for commercial and residential projects were bestowed during the 2014 Long Island Business News Real Estate Awards on Tuesday evening, including several Smart Growth-friendly projects.
Jefferson Plaza in Farmingdale pulled down the Top Smart Growth Project honor. With Bartone Properties; TDI; Forchelli, Curto, Deegan, Schwartz, Mineo & Terrana; and the Village of Farmingdale behind it, this project will replace a blighted warehouse and parking lot with 154 apartments and 19,000 square feet of retail in two new buildings. Plans also call for an underground parking lot with a 172-vehicle capacity. Ground breaking took place last fall and construction is underway.
The Top Mixed-Use Project in Suffolk County award was endowed to Tritec Real Estate for their New Village in Patchogue development. New Village is a 291-apartment complex with 46,000 square feet of retail space and 17,000 square feet of office space. The first apartment was leased at the beginning of the year, but the neighboring community has already invested into expansions and repairs in anticipation of the new development.
Both the Nassau County and Suffolk County Industrial Development Agencies took home IDA of the Year honors. The Nassau agency completed 21 projects in 2013, including several that encouraged companies to leave New York City. They kept more than 700 jobs on Long Island by keeping pharmaceutical maker PL Development from leaving for Florida. The Nassau continent also backed transit-oriented development like Jefferson Plaza and the 315-apartment Mineola Properties. Over in Suffolk, the IDA completed 24 deals to create $232 million in new local capital investment. Their new Boost program provides tax breaks to smaller tech companies, leading to the creation of a new tech cluster in Huntington village.
Congratulations to Long Island Business News for another successful awards ceremony.
Plans, Special Winners Unveiled At NY Rising Conference
Governor Andrew Cuomo kicked off the NY Rising Community Spring Conference on Wednesday. Committee representatives from the 50 NY Rising Community Reconstruction communities statewide joined elected officials to close out the first phase.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone kicked off the event with support for the Community Reconstruction Program (CRP), followed by his Nassau County counterpart Ed Mangano and politicians from other areas. New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio touched on some of the challenges he’s seen after Superstorm Sandy. Various community representatives also presented projects derived from their planning processes.
Cuomo addressed the audience about the need for the CRP process, emphasizing why it was so important for NY Rising to be a local process.
Local communities submitted projects for the Community Reconstruction Program (CRP) to the state in March after spending eight months recognizing resources, identifying goals and developing strategies. The CRP program came to life after Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. The state funneled almost $600 million in federal Community Disaster Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funds and encouraged each community to develop their own solutions that would become part of the plans released Wednesday.
"Rebuilding our communities is something that we cannot do from Albany or Washington, rather, we have to do it community by community across the state," Cuomo said.
Twenty-one teams from Long Island were on hand to present, including Babylon/West Babylon, Freeport, and Mastic Beach and Smith Point.
“The NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program was another step in healing our storm-battered community. The program brought together Community members from many walks of life, all focused on a common goal – building back a stronger Village of Mastic Beach and Smith Point of Shirley. Today, with the release of the Village of Mastic Beach and Smith Point of Shirley NY Rising Community Reconstruction Plan, we are well on our way to realizing this goal,” Co-Chair Kerri Rosalia said.
The next phase for the CRP project is to select projects for implementation in consultation with local municipalities and nonprofit organizations by looking at cost estimates, cost benefit analysis, potential to reduce risk to population and assets, technical feasibility, community support and HUD eligibility.
In addition to the original funding allocated to each community, Cuomo also announced winners of the NY Rising to the Top competition. This competitive grant process awarded $25 million for eight categories with a goal of fostering innovation, encouraging collaboration and promoting the development of the best possible Reconstruction Plans.
Of the eight categories, Long Island contingents won two. Oakdale/West Sayville won honors for the best innovative and cost-effective financing with their public/private partnerships. Possible economic development partnerships include a water taxi, bike share and trolley. The best use of green infrastructure award went to South Valley Stream for proposing green resiliency structures to protect the coastline. Both communities received $3 million on top of their original CRP funding.
Cuomo also took advantage of Wednesday’s events to announce a new program to review the clean water needs for Nassau and Suffolk both to improve water quality and increase resiliency against future storms. Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone will meet with community stakeholders and federal officials to provide recommendations to the governor.
Department of Environment Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens is slated to hold four meetings with Bellone and Mangano in the next two months. The first meeting is on for May 12 in Nassau County.
“Governor Cuomo’s plan to engage scientists, experts and the public to find solutions for Long Island’s wastewater problems is a welcome partnership and complement to Suffolk County’s efforts to reclaim our water. Suffolk County residents care about our drinking water and improving the resiliency of our coastal communities. I look forward to continuing to work with our state partners in this critical area,” Bellone said.
Downtowns Tipping The Scales Against Malls In Retail Fight
Mall owners need to watch their back.
A retail specialist said stores – both local and chains – are taking a second look at downtowns.
Malls are a dated concept, CBRE Retail Services Vice President Gregg Carlin said, predicting retailers will start opting for favorable downtowns before long. Smaller malls will just close up shop, he said, while larger malls will bring on residential and office tenants.
Regional malls currently account for 16.9 percent of all national retail space, down from 22.9 percent in 1982, Carlin said. Only 1,430 malls remain, he added, down from approximately 2,100 nationwide in 1990. On Long Island, the Walt Whitman, Roosevelt Field and Westfield South Shore Malls are or have recently spent significant money redesigning themselves.
At the same time, Main Street is becoming the hub of arts and entertainment in communities like Patchogue, Huntington, Farmingdale and Rockville Centre. High taxes are a concern, but the draw for growing downtowns is proving to be very strong. Panera Bread opened in Huntington village last year and Bonefish Grill is expected to open a location in Rockville Centre in 2014.
Eric Alexander, executive director of Smart Growth planning nonprofit Vision Long Island, said downtowns are more appealing to Long Island. He cited a recent survey that found 43 percent of Nassau and Suffolk residents want to live and work in mixed-use developments. Shopping is the next logical step in that series.
“People want to be in downtowns where there are more restaurants, arts, music, culture and events, not just in the summer but all year,” Alexander said.
In this economy, Nassau County Chamber of Commerces President Julie Marchesella said many business owners will look for better buys on Main Street. Marchesella, who also owns Queen of Hearts in Merrick, said working out of a mall requires more advertising costs and a cut of profits to go towards the mall owners’ coffers.
“Specialty stores have always preferred to be in a downtown area,” she said, adding that merchants are finding success in the downtown setting. “It’s a warmer, softer touch and more customer service-oriented than the rush of a mall,” she said.
For more on this story, check out Long Island Business News (subscription required).
Bellone, LI Team Presenting At Major Planning Conference
A team from Long Island will present at the country’s premiere planning event this summer.
CNU 22: The Resilient Community is the latest conference hosted in Buffalo by pro-Smart Growth organization Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU).
These conferences, this year’s scheduled for June 4-7, offer CNU members a chance to discuss development practices and public policies, learn from recent work and advance new initiatives to transform communities.
The event is targeted towards architects, planners, developers, nonprofits, environmentalists, citizen activists and public officials. Noted urban planner Andres Duany will lead seminars, along with dozens of Smart Growth, transit-oriented development and sustainable development practitioners and advocates.
From Long Island, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Renaissance Downtowns CEO Don Monti, Vision Long Island Executive Director Eric Alexander and Bill Tuyn will speak about transit-oriented development.
For more information about CNU 22, check out their website.
Feds Accepting Requests For $600 Million In TIGER Funding
The window to apply for a cut of $600 million in financial funding for transportation projects is open – and already closing.
The U.S. Department of Transportation unleashed another round of Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants in February, but the deadline to submit projects is April 28. Applications were first accepted April 3.
TIGER grants pump federal money into projects that have a significant impact on the country, region or metropolitan area. Six rounds have provided $4.1 billion in aid.
TIGER 2014 is designed to emphasize “projects that support reliable, safe and affordable transportation options that improve connections for both urban and rural communities, making it easier for their residents to reach work, school and other ladders of opportunity. While continuing to support projects of all types, DOT will prioritize applications for capital projects that better connect people to jobs, training and other opportunities, promote neighborhood redevelopment, and reconnect neighborhoods divided by physical barriers, such as highways and railroads.”
In addition to supporting capital grants, up to $35 million of TIGER funds can be used for planning grants, including planning of innovative transportation, regional transportation, freight and port, and programmatic mitigation approaches that increase efficiency and improve outcomes for communities and the environment.
For more information or an application, check out the Department of Transportation’s website. Applicants are highly encouraged to submit by Friday, April 25 due to server upgrades that weekend.
Is Your Business Looking To Save Money On Utility Bills?
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) provides free energy assessments and offers low-interest financing to businesses with 10 employees or fewer to upgrade lighting, heating, cooling, refrigeration, and other energy uses.
Signing up for an energy assessment is the first step in identifying the upgrades that can help improve energy efficiency and save you money. Incentives and financing options may also be available to help you with making those upgrades. Options include a Participation Loan, in which NYSERDA covers half the loan up to $50,000 at 0 percent interest, and the On-Bill Recovery Financing Program, which allows you to repay the loan via your utility bill at a low interest rate.
For larger businesses, NYSERDA’s FlexTech program offers energy efficiency studies, typically at a 50/50 cost share if you are a National Grid gas customer. NYSERDA also offers incentives for installation of natural gas efficiency measures.
To get started, please contact the NYSERDA Economic Development Growth Extension (EDGE) Program Regional Outreach Contractor (ROC) for Long Island, Beth Fiteni, via email or 631-471-1215 x166.
The ROC can discuss NYSERDA program opportunities with you, and assist you in completing an application for an energy assessment. The ROC can also help you understand your available incentive and financing options and identify contractors that can perform upgrades identified in your energy assessment.
Visit nyserda.ny.gov for more information on NYSERDA’s programs.
Open Door For Affordable Veterans Housing
Applications are now being accepted from Long Island’s veterans for affordable housing, but don’t wait.
Just 60 apartments are available in The Concern Liberty Apartments complex in Amityville. That includes 48 1-bedroom apartments and 12 2-bedroom units.
The housing will be available beginning April.
Applicants must have served in the armed forces and fall within the income limit. The annual cap for one person is $36,785, while the limit for a household of four is $52,550.
To apply, either visit Concern for Independent Living online or mail a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Concern for Independent Living, PO Box 358, Medford, NY 11763.
Grants Available To Find Veterans And Families Homes
Know a veteran who could use a hand finding a permanent home?
Nonprofit Services for the Underserved is rallying the troops with news of grants for veterans and their families.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been authorized to offer these grants through the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) Program. Funds are provided to nonprofits and consumer cooperatives who will help very-low income veteran families find permanent housing.
SSVF provides veterans with outreach, case management, advocacy and assistance in obtaining benefits. The program can also provide limited payments to landlords, child care providers, utilities and others to keep veteran families in permanent homes.
For more information or assistance, contact Roger Leathers at 631-227-0777.
$50 Million Open For Alternative Transportation Projects
Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Department of Transportation are now accepting applications to financially assist alternative transportation projects.
Under the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), projects that create other forms of transportation or enhance transportation infrastructure can vie for $50 million in federal funds.
Projects will be selected through a competitive solicitation process and rated on established criteria that includes environmental enhancement; connectivity to an existing transportation system; encouragement of smart growth; impact on local or regional economies; availability of matching funds and level of community support.
Creating on-road and off-road trail facilities for non-motorized transportation would be eligible according to the state, as would community improvement activities and environmental mitigation activity.
Winners will receive up to 80 percent of total expenses in Federal Highway Administration money. They are responsible to secure the remainder.
The deadline for all applications is June 11. More information about TAP is available on the state’s website.
A series of webinars has been announced to train potential applicants. They’re expected to focus on information about this funding, and an explanation of requisites and requirements. Two TAP/Fed Aid 101 webinars will be held on March 18 at 12:30 p.m. and March 19 at 10 a.m. Registration for the first event can be found here in use with password TAP101. Registration for the second event can be found here with the password TAP10319.
State Awarding $50,000 Grants To Promote Contamination Cleanups
New York State is awarding grants to community groups promoting remedial activities in their community.
The Department of Environmental Conservation has made up to $50,000 available per site for increasing public awareness and understanding of Brownfield, Superfund and other contaminated sites that pose a significant threat to the public and/or environment. Not-for-profits are eligible to apply for the funds; no matching contribution is required.
Application information is available on the state's website.