An architecture firm hired by the Town of Babylon recently completed guidelines for the design of building facades in downtown Copiague, officials said.
The guidelines, which address materials, signs, windows and a host of other design considerations, are the latest step in Babylon’s yearslong campaign to spruce up the South Shore hamlet.
With its railroad station and small commercial core, Copiague could host a bustling, walkable downtown akin to those of nearby Babylon and Farmingdale villages, according to officials including Amy Pfeiffer, the director of the town’s Office of Downtown Revitalization.
But the “visual clutter” of building facades in Copiague — where jumbled signs cover monotonous surfaces — do little to achieve that goal, according to the report prepared by In. Site: Architecture, a Perry, New York-based firm.
To fix that, the firm offered pointers to help property owners establish a cohesive architectural identity in downtown Copiague and create a street environment that appeals to pedestrians. While the area lacks the large stock of charismatic prewar buildings that define other downtowns, this offers “a chance for Copiague to define its own character,” the report said.
The architects recommended paring facades back to original building materials such as brick, and avoiding vinyl and metal finishes. Parking should go behind shops to foster a lively street life, and storefronts should usually be transparent.
Pfeiffer said local business owners have expressed interest in revamping their storefronts.
“Everybody we talk to wants to redo their building,” she said.
Sharon Fattoruso, president of the Copiague Chamber of Commerce, said a more attractive downtown could draw new business to the area. The hamlet “definitely needs it,” she said of the improvements. “There’s no doubt in my mind.”
The town will likely incorporate the guidelines into Babylon’s zoning code and seek to give incentives to current property owners to redesign their facades accordingly with loans and subsidies, Pfeiffer said.
To do so, the town will draw on a $20,000 state grant and nearly $240,000 contributed by Rochester-based Conifer Realty, the co-developer of the nearby Copiague Commons housing complex. The town paid In. Site around $45,000 to develop the guidelines and renderings for businesses, and will pay the firm an additional $20,000 to develop a facade-improvement program for Copiague.
The guidelines are part of Babylon’s effort to breathe new life into downtown Copiague. The town rezoned the area in 2015 to promote denser, transit-oriented development and designated it an Urban Renewal Area in March to accelerate improvements.
Streetscape upgrades on Oak Street and Great Neck Road are also beginning this summer and fall.