The Town of Brookhaven issued a Request for Expression of...

The Town of Brookhaven issued a Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI) for developers to present the town with a concept plan for the Ronkonkoma Hub transit-oriented development, which is one of the most significant opportunities in the region to create a beautiful new transit-oriented downtown.

If Brookhaven Town officials have their way, the lonely landscape of the Ronkonkoma train station may one day be a livelier place filled with shops, apartments and restaurants.

The town is planning to ask developers Monday to submit creative ideas for the redevelopment of the train station and about 50 acres of the surrounding area.

"We want to be innovative," said Town Supervisor Mark Lesko. "Ronkonkoma may in fact be the most exciting transit-oriented project on the East Coast."

Citing the station's proximity to the Long Island Expressway and Long Island MacArthur Airport, Lesko said the development has potential to attract shoppers, diners and renters living in what could be hundreds of new apartments.

The goal is to build a hub where "young people would have a place to have a beer or have dinner or live, and commute to their jobs as well as a place where the empty nesters can enjoy themselves," Lesko said.

"You're really talking about a Main Street feeling for families, but also a place for young people, and walkable."

The plan includes a "Main Street" area near the train station designated for housing above commercial businesses. Also, "Neighborhood Center" areas would feature a development with a mix of housing and commercial uses.

Serving about 14,000 riders every day, the station is one of the busiest in the Long Island Rail Road system, according to the town. The ideas submitted will be pulled together and then a master developer will be selected to develop the site.

The ideas should emphasize quality of life, including walkability and good design, Lesko said. He also would like to see amenities for commuters.

"It's important to maximize the potential of the train station," he said. "That can be providing some retail businesses that would cater to the ridership, whether that be gyms or Laundromats."

George Schramm, president of the Lake Ronkonkoma Civic Organization, said the community and in particular, people who live near the station have largely supported the town's ambitious plans.

"The train station was something that was an important asset a hundred years ago, and in the 1980s the trains underwent a little improvement in the area" when LIRR electrified the rail lines, Schramm said. "There was expectation that things would improve but there was no comprehensive plan so it fell apart. Here, we have a very nice opportunity because it seems the property owners are willing to cooperate."

The submissions are due by the end of June.

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