Route 110 project developer to be selected this summer, says Babylon Town
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Town of Babylon officials say they expect to select a developer this summer for a project that could bring housing, commercial and parklike community spaces to a section of the Route 110 corridor in East Farmingdale.
If it moves forward, the project would transform an area around Conklin Street and Route 110 now dominated by the sprawling Airport Plaza shopping center and vacant land.
The project is part of a plan to spur growth along the corridor -- an economic engine built around one of the state's busiest arteries -- while controlling congestion with transportation options like bus rapid transit and rail at a new LIRR Republic train station.
The 120-acre project would be built over 10 to 15 years on more than a dozen privately owned lots and would require cooperation from landowners. Preliminary discussions between the town and landowners have been positive, said Jonathan Keyes, director of the town's Office of Downtown Development.
A spokesman for New Hyde Park-based Kimco Realty, the investment trust that controls Airport Plaza on Conklin Street, whose big-box-store layout and 5,000 parking spaces could be reconfigured as part of the project, said it was premature to comment on "potential redevelopment."
Four area developers have submitted proposals for the site: AvalonBay Communities, Blumenfield Development Group, Renaissance Downtowns and Carriage House Realty.
Town consultants say that the project could have a $1 billion value at full build-out. That would put it on the scale of the Ronkonkoma Hub in Brookhaven and Wyandanch Rising, a major redevelopment of town-owned land in Babylon, and would make it one of the most regionally significant projects in recent years.
"We could hit a major jackpot for people who live in the area in terms of jobs created and opportunities that will be available," said Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer. "The expansion of the tax base will help us as well at the local school districts and serve as a model for other areas."
Plans for East Farmingdale redevelopment go back to at least 2002, when Steve Bellone, in his first year in office as town supervisor, called for the Republic LIRR station to be reopened. Subsequent town studies and letters from the East Farmingdale Civic Association have explored the possibility of creating a walkable downtown akin to the one in Babylon Village.
Still, a 2011 report commissioned by the town noted constraints on redevelopment, including Republic Airport flight paths, fumes from an asphalt plant north of Conklin, and heavy traffic there and on Route 110.
The 2011 report proposed building a pedestrian bridge over 110, along with an entertainment venue on the highway's west side. Most buildings would be held to five stories, and truck traffic on Conklin Street would be rerouted.
Keyes said the project is moving closer to reality.
"This is something unique on Long Island, the opportunity to develop a new market environment and land use environment," he said.