As Village Mayor Paul Pontieri described it, the soon-to-be constructed $100 million Patchogue New Village development will be the next downtown anchor to "bring young professionals to the area."
East Setauket developer TRITEC broke ground on the former Swezey's department store site Wednesday, five years after purchasing the property.
Developers and village leaders hope the project revitalizes the popular "Four Corners" district and the housing stock.
"You want your downtown to create an atmosphere where people will want to visit you," Pontieri said before the ceremony.
The mixed-use development, scheduled for completion in 25 months, includes 291 apartments, 46,100 square feet of rental space and 13,000 square feet of office space, officials said.
The project's housing and office space is designed to attract young professionals. TRITEC officials say it should create more than 260 full-time jobs, 850 construction and 450 secondary jobs.
"This is the final piece that will establish the 'Four Corners'. It's a prototype for future downtowns on Long Island, with Patchogue leading the way," said Rob Loscalzo, chief operating officer of TRITEC. "We're real excited about the renaissance of the village. I couldn't be happier. This is going to be a beautiful downtown."
The New Village, off West Main Street, will occupy a strip of land that once anchored downtown, but has been vacant for a dozen years.
It will consist of six buildings, the tallest five stories, officials said. The new apartments are expected to bring additional business to local restaurants and the downtown theater, officials said.
A previous plan included a 106-room hotel, but potential operators balked at the idea when the economy slumped, TRITEC officials have said.
Still officials say the project should enliven streets and provide civic amenities such as a new village square while promoting a pedestrian-friendly environment.
"This development and the work done here in Patchogue is a model of what we need to do across Suffolk County as we seek to build an innovative economy that will attract and retain young people," Bellone said.