Development of a $100 million Farmingville housing and retail complex is back on track after several years of delays.
The 292-unit Arboretum project is expected to provide an economic windfall to the hamlet in central Brookhaven Town while preserving an historic firehouse and providing space for local community groups.
When it is completed in about four years, the project is expected to include single-family homes, apartments, a public park and pond, a 5,500-square-foot community center and a pool and barbecue area. Rents are expected to range from about $2,400 or $2,500 for two-bedroom homes to $3,000 for three-bedroom units.
About 30 units will be reserved as affordable or "workforce" housing, with lower rents aimed at people who qualify based on income requirements. Plans also call for 12,000 square feet for one or more restaurants, and 12,000 square feet for offices.
The Brookhaven Town Planning Board voted 6-0 on June 3 to approve a site plan for the project, the last major hurdle for construction to begin.
“We really look at the Arboretum as a major investment in Farmingville," said developer Mike Kelly, who plans to move his company's offices from Patchogue to the complex. "It could be a real vibrant community. … Really what we’re trying to do is create a sense of place.”
The Arboretum will be built on a 65-acre tract at the site of a former farm and nursery off Horseblock Road. An historic firehouse on the property will be preserved as headquarters for the Farmingville Historical Society, and a vacant farmhouse will be transformed into a public space for educational events, said Marisa Pizza, executive director of the Farmingville Residents Association, which backs the plan.
“It’s looking pretty good,” she said. “Residents have been really excited because the developers have been very involved in working with the community.”
Town officials had announced the project about four years ago, touting its potential as an economic boon for the blue-collar community.
Plans stalled in recent years. Kelly said he had to line up new financial backers after a key member of his business team, Mike McHugh, formerly of Melville-based Continental Home Loans, died suddenly at age 60.
Kelly said developers scrapped initial plans to sell all or most of the homes. The homes will be rented, in response to growing demand from younger and older residents for affordable housing, he said.
“If you look at the marketplace and how quickly it's changed, the demographic is really driving the rental product,” Kelly said. “It’s changed considerably, and we’re really just trying to keep up with the marketplace on this.”
Brookhaven officials said the Arboretum should provide a boost for shops on nearby North Ocean Avenue.
"This is the largest investment in the Farmingville community that I can remember," Town Councilman Kevin LaValle said. "It really shows that Farmingville is growing."