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Eyeing Patchogue's revitalization, Amityville considers space for artists

Artwork decorates a stairwell of the Artspace Development

Artwork decorates a stairwell of the Artspace Development on Terry Street in Patchogue on Feb. 20, 2014. A similar complex with affordable units for artists and their families is proposed for Amityville Village. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Amityville officials Monday are to consider funding a feasibility study on adding loftlike apartments for artists to live and work in the village.

Artspace, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit real estate developer for the arts, would conduct the study and develop the spaces if the village decides to proceed.

The company has 36 such projects around the country -- including one in Patchogue. It would charge Amityville $15,000 for the study.

Trustee Nick LaLota said the village board will consider how to proceed at its meeting, possibly spending $7,500 and paying for the rest with $500 donations from residents and business owners. Several commitments are already lined up, he said.

"The neighborhoods they've put their projects in have been revitalized," LaLota said. "These are cultural hubs. . . . Should that happen in Amityville, it could be the start of a very good snowball effect."

The Artspace feasibility study includes site visits, along with focus group meetings with bankers, municipal officials and residents, said Wendy Holmes, senior vice president for consulting and strategic partnerships. Proximity to cities, highways and transit is also considered. Amityville meets all of those needs, officials noted in interviews last week.

An Artspace project in Manhattan to open this year received 53,000 applications for 90 spots. All 45 apartments in the $18 million Artspace Patchogue Lofts are leased, and there is a waiting list. That once-troubled village is now hailed as a turnaround success by municipal officials and smart-growth advocates across Long Island, and the Patchogue Lofts was part of the transformation.

Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri "felt it was a real important piece in his downtown revitalization," said Tom Howard, co-chairman of Amityville's Downtown Revitalization Committee. "They would be a real key piece here."

The committee has identified four properties in or near the downtown Broadway corridor as suitable for redevelopment, he said.

Artspace projects typically rely on a mix of private and public funding, Holmes said. Because some of the public funding is income-limited, most projects are geared toward residents earning no more than 60 percent of the area median income.

In Amityville, where median income is $78,009, that would be $46,805.

If the village approves the study, it would probably be completed in early November, Holmes said. If its findings are favorable and the village approves a project, it would take three to five years before new residents move in.

"They're all different types of artists living there: musicians, painters, actors, sculptors," Howard said of the Patchogue project. "These artists will put feet on the street. From there we'll build. It's one step in a process, but it's a major step."

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