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Copiague’s downtown experiencing rise in multifamily projects

The Copiague Commons at 54 Railroad Ave., in

The Copiague Commons at 54 Railroad Ave., in Copiague, Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. Credit: Steve Pfost

A number of multifamily housing developments are in the works in downtown Copiague, representing what some see as the fruition of a long campaign by the Town of Babylon to create a dense, walkable neighborhood at the center of the South Shore hamlet.

Copiague Commons, a $33.5 million, 90-unit mixed income housing complex on Railroad Avenue, is complete, with tenants moving in this month, said Gwen O’Shea, the president and chief executive of Community Development Corp. of Long Island, one of the project’s developers.

And three projects conceived by local businessman Darius Mroczkowski are at various stages in the design and approval process.

The site plan for one of those projects — a 12-unit, three-floor building at 1800 Great Neck Rd. — was approved by the Babylon Town Planning Board on Aug. 21, according to Nicole Blanda, an attorney representing Mroczkowski.

The building, which is to have a Family Dollar store on the ground floor, will replace a single-floor commercial building occupied by Mroczkowski’s masonry business. Mroczkowski hopes to begin construction in the fall, Blanda said.

Two lots west on Marconi Boulevard, the foundations are in place for a pair of apartment buildings proposed by Mroczkowski, each to house 10 units, Blanda said.

And a third prospective Mroczkowski building, this one conceived for 12 units on an Oak Street site, is in the conceptual design phase, said Al Sutton, an architect working on the projects. Mroczkowski did not respond to requests for comment.

One-fifth of the units in the three projects would be designated as affordable, as required by the town’s affordable housing policy, said Amy Pfeiffer, director of Babylon Town’s Office of Downtown Revitalization.

Blanda said Mroczkowski was inspired to build rental housing in Copiague, a diverse working-class hamlet of about 23,000 residents, by the town’s effort to spur transit-oriented development there.

With its Long Island Rail Road station and compact commercial core, Copiague has the structure to support a mixed-use downtown where a car would not be necessary for residents to get among home, work and shops, town officials have said. Accordingly, the town rezoned downtown Copiague in 2015 to promote that vision.

Mroczkowski’s projects grow from that idea, providing “apartments for people who want to have easy access to the city, but who also want to enjoy a downtown suburban life,” Blanda said.

Sharon Fattoruso, president of the Copiague Chamber of Commerce, praised the housing developments, saying their residents will bring new life to the downtown and business to its shops.

“The downtown area has been fairly dormant for a long time,” Fattoruso said.

Whether more developers will follow Mroczkowski and Copiague Commons is an open question.

“This is one of the first projects of this type in this new zoning district,” Blanda said of the building planned for Great Neck Road. “It will be interesting to see how it plays out.”

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