THE SCOOP: Rome wasn't built in a day. And neither will be Heartland Town Square, an ambitious project to redevelop 450 acres at the former Pilgrim Psychiatric Center in Brentwood. Developer Gerald Wolkoff proposes 9,130 housing units as well as retail, office and recreational space.
So far, there's been one public meeting, with two more to come, says town planning commissioner Gene Murphy. "We believe some form of development on this site is good," Murphy says. But there are concerns, including scale. "It exceeds most smart- growth projects that are usually between 75 and 150 acres," Murphy explains.
There was the recent debut of the 53-acre Athletic Complex at Brentwood State Park, where there are eight soccer fields and two baseball fields with more to come, says George Gorman of the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
The real estate market has been tough in this diverse community. "We are being hit hard by short sales," says Hector Villatoro of Arvy Realty in Brentwood. However, he says, a good number of first-time home buyers have been taking advantage of the $8,000 tax credit, which is expiring soon. (Buyers must be in contract by April.)
Housing includes Colonials, high-ranches, Capes, expanded ranches and split-levels. Prices have dropped sharply, says Nelson Hernandez of Mi Casa Realty in Brentwood. "Two years ago, a high-ranch that went for $400,000 is now going between $260,000 and $270,000." The new prices are, in part, due to the effect short sales have on "comps," or comparable sales, he says. That said, Villatoro adds, "There's nothing wrong with renting, but if you can afford it, there will never be a better time to buy."
MONTHLY RENTAL: A two-bedroom apartment fetches between $1,200 and $1,800 a month.
SALES PRICE: In 2009, there were 204 sales in Brentwood, according to Multiple Listing Service of Long Island data. The median price was $211,574, with a low of $84,000 and a high of $450,000. From January to December 2008, there were 215 sales, with a median price of $287,260; the low was $95,500 and the high was $450,000.
ATTRACTIONS: There are many ethnic restaurants, as well as a Suffolk County Community College campus. Beaches, parks and malls are nearby.
Area: 10.1 square miles
ZIP code: 11717
Median age: 33.9
Median household income: $69,567
Median home value: $206,900*
Median age of homes: 41 years
Percent owning home: 76.8 percent
Percent renting home: 20.3 percent
Percent homes vacant: 3.4 percent
LIRR time to NYC: 58 to 75 minutes peak
Monthly ticket: $306
School district: Brentwood
SOURCES: Claritas 2009; www.mlsli.com; LIRR; *Based on sales in the past six months, according to Multiple Listing Service of Long Island
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