North Bellport residents and Brookhaven Town officials say a proposed 70-unit apartment complex could help revitalize a hamlet that lags behind its more affluent neighbors.
Levittown-based D&F Development Group is proposing to build the complex on a vacant seven-acre tract between Atlantic and Patchogue avenues, a short walk from the Bellport train station. Supporters say it would bring much needed jobs and affordable housing to the community.
The Brookhaven Town Board last month approved a zoning change to allow multifamily housing at the site. The project needs town approval of a site plan and building permits before construction can start.
Civic leaders and town officials say the project is the culmination of years of efforts to reinvigorate North Bellport by updating zoning codes and dealing with problems such as boarded-up houses. Dozens of vacant homes have been demolished or occupied, some businesses have spruced themselves up, and the town has stepped up code enforcement, officials said.
"What we’re trying to do is keep people in the community,” Brookhaven councilman Michael Loguercio said in an interview. “It’s nice to see a developer taking a chance on a community where not everybody would take a chance in.”
North Bellport is a middle-class community dotted with small businesses and industrial sites and bisected by Montauk Highway and the Long Island Rail Road tracks. Its median income of $62,201 from 2012 to 2016 was roughly two-thirds of Suffolk County's median income during the same period, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
Monthly rents at Bellport Residences would range from $900 for a one-bedroom unit to $1,700 for some three-bedroom units, said Peter Florey, a D&F Development principal. Florey, whose company has built affordable housing developments in Locust Manor, Riverhead and Hempstead, said the North Bellport project would fill a need for multifamily development.
“I think Long Island lags way behind our cousins to the north -- Westchester, Connecticut, New Jersey -- in terms of the percentage of rental housing and certainly affordable housing,” he said. “I think this is going to spur additional investment. Everywhere we’ve built development, and this includes places like Hempstead, we’ve found after we have built, there has been investment in the surrounding community.”
The project would create 150 construction jobs and two or three permanent jobs, Florey said.
Tawaun Weber, assistant director of Vision Long Island, which advocates "smart growth" development, said community leaders started a "visioning" project in 2006 to begin planning for hamlet upgrades.
John Rogers, who chairs the Greater Bellport Coalition, a civic group, said Florey later showed interest and sought the views of residents as he planned the project.
The result, Weber said, is "complete community support."
“There’s a lot of vested people in this community who deserve this type of project,” she said. “They’re literally building the community’s dream.”
Rogers said the complex would help diversify North Bellport by attracting young residents and seniors seeking modestly-priced homes.
“Especially young people, you’re coming out of high school or college or whatever, you don’t have a lot of options," Rogers said. "You don’t necessarily want a three-bedroom house.”
North Bellport rising
Facts and figures about proposed Bellport Residences project:
70,000 square feet
36 one-bedroom units
28 two-bedroom units
6 three-bedroom units
$900-$1,000 monthly rent, one-bedroom unit
$1,100 to $1,400 monthly rent, two-bedroom unit
$1,500 to $1,700 monthly rent, three-bedroom unit