Plans for a housing and retail complex that Long Island officials hope will revitalize the commercial district around the Ronkonkoma train station received a key approval Monday from the Brookhaven Town Planning Board.
The board voted 6-0 to waive restrictions that would have blocked development within a 12-acre portion of the $538 million Ronkonkoma Hub. The restrictions, which barred subdividing certain properties, were among covenants that had been placed on those sites long before they were purchased in recent years by the hub project's master developer, East Setauket-based Tritec Real Estate.
"It's a big day for the project," Tritec chief operating officer Rob Loscalzo said of the vote.
When it is completed, the hub is expected to have up to 1,450 apartments and 545,000 square feet of retail and office space on about 50 acres.
The hub would be built on the north side of the Long Island Rail Road tracks around the LIRR's Ronkonkoma train station, near Long Island MacArthur Airport.
Long Island officials and local civic leaders have said the project, which has attracted millions of dollars' worth of support from state and local agencies, will provide affordable housing and jobs for young professionals and seniors.
The planning board on Monday also approved the hub's first phase, including 489 rental units -- a mix of studio apartments, and one-, two- and three-bedroom units -- and a sewage treatment pumping station.
Loscalzo said Tritec officials hope to break ground later this year or next year after obtaining town building and demolition permits.
"It's really big," he said of receiving planning board approval. "It keeps the momentum going."
Loscalzo said he hopes to receive town approvals next year for the project's second phase. Details of that plan have not been released.
Construction is expected to take about 10 years.