Town of Babylon officials and the developer working to revitalize Wyandanch are seeking a health center as the anchor tenant for a commercial building downtown.
Discussions have begun to bring the HRHCare Martin Luther King Jr. Health Center a quarter of a mile north on Straight Path to the Wyandanch Village development near the Long Island Rail Road station.
While Suffolk County pays the lease, HRHCare, of Peekskill, manages the health center, which is located inside an old supermarket, a setting that officials said is inadequate. The center has been on a month-to-month lease, said HRHCare president and CEO Anne Kauffman Nolon. The center serves about 15,000 patients annually.
The downtown area has been the center of the town’s Wyandanch Rising redevelopment, a nearly 15-year-long effort to revitalize the economically distressed hamlet. Developer Albanese Organization Inc., of Garden City, has constructed two apartment buildings with retail space on site, with plans for a third commercial building in the works. That building at 20 Station Dr., is to be the home of the first-ever museum for the Long Island Music Hall of Fame.
But the hall of fame will not pay rent, said town Supervisor Rich Schaffer. “They’re meant to be a draw,” he said.
The health center, he said, would provide a “guaranteed revenue stream” to the building. The center was recently awarded an $8 million grant from the state’s Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment Program. Suffolk County has pledged to match these funds.
The health center could attract other medical-related tenants, Schaffer said, such as a pharmacy.
“We’ve got commuter traffic, but we want to make sure we’ve got traffic all day,” he said.
Albanese Executive Vice President George Aridas said that lack of a daytime crowd has made it difficult to attract a restaurant to the two buildings. Apartments in the first building are all rented out, with about 50 percent of the retail leased by New York Community Bank, Domino’s Pizza, Cricket Wireless and K&B department store. About 70 percent of apartments in the second building are rented, but none of the retail has been leased.
“Restaurateurs to whom we’ve spoken love the location, but they can’t survive without a lunchtime crowd,” he said.
HRHCare would look to bring in businesses they work with, such as a laboratory, Nolon said.
“We’re trying to look at opportunities that help to grow this project beyond HRHCare,” she said.
She said in order to receive the state funding, they must find a site within the next five months.
Suffolk must approve the location and County Executive Steve Bellone said that, while he has long favored moving the health center, there are a “number of potential sites in and around the downtown” that “may make more sense for the community.”
“HRH and Albanese are awesome partners, but the community has been working with us on this project since 2002,” he said. “What’s going to maximize the benefit to the community is what’s going to drive this decision.”