Known as the Ronkonkoma Hub since planning for it began more than a decade ago, the rechristened Station Yards housing-retail-office project has been "reimagined" by developer Tritec Real Estate to build a "community" around the Ronkonkoma train station, company officials told Newsday.  Credit: Randee Daddona; Tritec Real Estate

A $1 billion Ronkonkoma development expected to help revitalize a stagnant business district near the hamlet's Long Island Rail Road station is getting a new name, as its East Setauket-based developer announced revised plans intended to make the complex more spacious for residents and shoppers.

Known as the Ronkonkoma Hub since planning for it began more than a decade ago, the rechristened Station Yards housing-retail-office project has been "reimagined" by developer Tritec Real Estate as consumers and workers alter their post-coronavirus lifestyles and work habits, company officials told Newsday. 

Some retail space that had been planned for the project's $265 million second phase, currently under construction at Hawkins and Railroad avenues, will be shifted to later phases of the project, Tritec principal Jim Coughlan said. 

The project's new name, and the shift in strategy, is intended to signal that Station Yards is a different kind of Long Island neighborhood — one that connects homes with shopping and 21st century workplaces, Coughlan said. 

“The rebranding represents an effort to sort of articulate the sense of place that is going to be created here, the community that is being built around the Ronkonkoma train station, the revitalization effort that is finally being realized after three decades of community input to demand change of what has been historically a fairly blighted area,” Coughlan said Monday during an interview at Station Yards' Alston apartment complex.

“COVID changed retail across the globe, but it certainly had impact on our plans here at Station Yards," he added. "We addressed the sense of place around our village green, the outdoor experience, the spaces between the buildings, the public areas that invite people into the sense of place in our downtown at Station Yards. All was reimagined.” 

Revised designs for the second phase show a courtyard, or village green, that will host outdoor events such as concerts, farmers markets and food tastings, company officials said. The courtyard is intended to encourage mingling among Station Yards tenants, shoppers and office workers, said Coughlan, who runs Tritec with his brother Robert Coughlan.

Tritec plans to reallocate about 15,000 square feet of retail and office space, from three buildings now under construction, to later phases of the five-phase project, Tritec marketing director Chris Kelly said. That leaves about 90,000 square feet of office and retail under construction, a bit less than half of the 190,000 square feet expected at Station Yards when construction is completed in about a decade, he said. 

Jim Coughlan said retail businesses at Station Yards could include banks, hair salons and pharmacies.

"We are not looking to create Disneyland with national brands," Jim Coughlan said. "We’d like to have local restaurateurs, we’d like to have local providers of services and we’d like them to create, as many of them have across Long Island, truly authentic Long Island experiences for this new community." 

Tritec's strategy shift was applauded by Thomas P. LaSalvia, a senior economist with Moody’s Analytics in Manhattan. He said successful developments follow a "live-work-play" model similar to a traditional downtown that includes homes, grocery stores and entertainment. 

“These things have shown true resilience from the pandemic and e-commerce, and they’re going to be very useful in a live-work-play community," LaSalvia told Newsday. "It’s almost as if the old is becoming new again. Neighborhoods were being built like this 100 years ago, and now it’s being done in a master plan style, but the reason they're doing that is because they work.” 

Before Station Yards, Tritec helmed mixed-use residential and retail projects in Patchogue, Port Jefferson and Lindenhurst that were credited by officials in those communities with transforming underutilized areas. 

Kevin L. Hyms, president of the Ronkonkoma Chamber of Commerce, said Tritec so far appears to be striking the correct balance of sprucing up a previously downtrodden neighborhood while preserving the community's character.

“Some development is great. It’s good for the economy and jobs, but we don’t want overdevelopment. We want it to be controlled and appropriate for the area," Hyms told Newsday. "But we do want development because it’s an improvement of what was there.”

Tritec overcame Long Island's anti-development tide by working with Ronkonkoma civic and business groups when they first pitched their plans about 20 years ago, Hyms said, adding that company officials continue to speak regularly to community leaders.

”This is a welcome improvement,” he said. “We want to save the old and have the new, and have a proper balance.” 

The section of Station Yards under construction also includes 388 luxury rental apartments and two parking garages with electric vehicle charging stations and more than 1,200 parking slots. Rental prices have not been established, Kelly said, adding that 20% of units will be reduced-price "workforce" apartments to comply with local and state affordable housing laws.

The first apartments should be occupied late this year, and retail shops should start opening in April 2024, Jim Coughlan said.

The 489-unit Alston apartment building, opened in 2020 as part of the project's first phase, is 96% occupied, Kelly said. 

Brookhaven Town officials in 2014 had approved a total of up to 1,450 residential units, 360,000 square feet of office space and 195,000 square feet of retail on 50 acres on the north side of the LIRR tracks. 

The project has received tens of millions of dollars in aid from state and local agencies, such as $50 million from Empire State Development, a $26.4 million Suffolk County grant for sewer hookups and a separate $2.3 million county grant for infrastructure upgrades. The Brookhaven Town Industrial Development Agency approved more than $24.5 million in tax breaks for the first two phases.

The name Station Yards is a nod to the Ronkonkoma train station and the area's history as a regional transportation hub, Jim Coughlan said, adding that it was chosen from among hundreds of ideas considered by company staff.

Station Yards is one of two Ronkonkoma megaprojects expected to transform an area known mainly for its huge parking lot between the train station and Long Island MacArthur Airport.

The other project, Midway Crossing, a $2.8 billion development proposed by Suffolk County and Islip Town officials with Chicago developer JLL, is expected to include a convention center, life sciences facilities, a 300-room hotel and a new northern airport terminal connected by walkway to the Ronkonkoma train station.

The project awaits numerous local and state approvals. Planning and construction are expected to take 10 to 15 years.

Jim Coughlan said he thinks the two projects will complement one another when they are completed. 

“We’re excited about the idea of a convention center, very excited about the idea of the terminal moving to the north side of the airport and connecting to the train station, creating arguably the easiest connection from air to New York City with the right kind of people mover," he said. 

Matthew Cohen, president and chief executive of the Long Island Association business group, said Station Yards and Midway Crossing should prove to be “a real, real economic engine, not just for the local area but for the entire region.”

“Our region has been thirsting for this kind of development," Cohen told Newsday.

A $1 billion Ronkonkoma development expected to help revitalize a stagnant business district near the hamlet's Long Island Rail Road station is getting a new name, as its East Setauket-based developer announced revised plans intended to make the complex more spacious for residents and shoppers.

Known as the Ronkonkoma Hub since planning for it began more than a decade ago, the rechristened Station Yards housing-retail-office project has been "reimagined" by developer Tritec Real Estate as consumers and workers alter their post-coronavirus lifestyles and work habits, company officials told Newsday. 

Some retail space that had been planned for the project's $265 million second phase, currently under construction at Hawkins and Railroad avenues, will be shifted to later phases of the project, Tritec principal Jim Coughlan said. 

The "reimagined" Station Yards housing-retail-office project, seen in a rendering, will connect homes...

The "reimagined" Station Yards housing-retail-office project, seen in a rendering, will connect homes with shopping and 21st-century workplaces, Tritec principal Jim Coughlan said. Credit: Kelley Coughlan Heck

Connecting homes, shops, workplaces

The project's new name, and the shift in strategy, is intended to signal that Station Yards is a different kind of Long Island neighborhood — one that connects homes with shopping and 21st century workplaces, Coughlan said. 

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Tritec Real Estate has renamed its Ronkonkoma Hub development “Station Yards,” a nod to the community’s Long Island Rail Road terminal.
  • The project has been “reimagined,” with some retail that had been planned for the $265 million second phase shifted to later phases of the project.
  • Tritec is aiming to create “an authentic Long Island community," with an emphasis on local brands instead of national chains.

“The rebranding represents an effort to sort of articulate the sense of place that is going to be created here, the community that is being built around the Ronkonkoma train station, the revitalization effort that is finally being realized after three decades of community input to demand change of what has been historically a fairly blighted area,” Coughlan said Monday during an interview at Station Yards' Alston apartment complex.

“COVID changed retail across the globe, but it certainly had impact on our plans here at Station Yards," he added. "We addressed the sense of place around our village green, the outdoor experience, the spaces between the buildings, the public areas that invite people into the sense of place in our downtown at Station Yards. All was reimagined.” 

Some retail space that had been planned for the project's...

Some retail space that had been planned for the project's $265 million second phase, currently under construction at Hawkins and Railroad avenues, will be shifted to later phases of the project, said Tritec principal Jim Coughlan, who runs the company with his brother Robert Coughlan. Credit: Randee Daddona

Revised designs for the second phase show a courtyard, or village green, that will host outdoor events such as concerts, farmers markets and food tastings, company officials said. The courtyard is intended to encourage mingling among Station Yards tenants, shoppers and office workers, said Coughlan, who runs Tritec with his brother Robert Coughlan.

Reallocating retail, office space

Tritec plans to reallocate about 15,000 square feet of retail and office space, from three buildings now under construction, to later phases of the five-phase project, Tritec marketing director Chris Kelly said. That leaves about 90,000 square feet of office and retail under construction, a bit less than half of the 190,000 square feet expected at Station Yards when construction is completed in about a decade, he said. 

Jim Coughlan said retail businesses at Station Yards could include banks, hair salons and pharmacies.

"We are not looking to create Disneyland with national brands," Jim Coughlan said. "We’d like to have local restaurateurs, we’d like to have local providers of services and we’d like them to create, as many of them have across Long Island, truly authentic Long Island experiences for this new community." 

Tritec plans to reallocate about 15,000 square feet of retail...

Tritec plans to reallocate about 15,000 square feet of retail and office space from three buildings now under construction to later phases of the five-phase project, seen in a rendering, Tritec marketing director Chris Kelly said. Credit: Kelley Coughlan Heck

Tritec's strategy shift was applauded by Thomas P. LaSalvia, a senior economist with Moody’s Analytics in Manhattan. He said successful developments follow a "live-work-play" model similar to a traditional downtown that includes homes, grocery stores and entertainment. 

“These things have shown true resilience from the pandemic and e-commerce, and they’re going to be very useful in a live-work-play community," LaSalvia told Newsday. "It’s almost as if the old is becoming new again. Neighborhoods were being built like this 100 years ago, and now it’s being done in a master plan style, but the reason they're doing that is because they work.” 

Before Station Yards, Tritec helmed mixed-use residential and retail projects in Patchogue, Port Jefferson and Lindenhurst that were credited by officials in those communities with transforming underutilized areas. 

'Some development is great'

Kevin L. Hyms, president of the Ronkonkoma Chamber of Commerce, said Tritec so far appears to be striking the correct balance of sprucing up a previously downtrodden neighborhood while preserving the community's character.

“Some development is great. It’s good for the economy and jobs, but we don’t want overdevelopment. We want it to be controlled and appropriate for the area," Hyms told Newsday. "But we do want development because it’s an improvement of what was there.”

Tritec overcame Long Island's anti-development tide by working with Ronkonkoma civic and business groups when they first pitched their plans about 20 years ago, Hyms said, adding that company officials continue to speak regularly to community leaders.

”This is a welcome improvement,” he said. “We want to save the old and have the new, and have a proper balance.” 

The section of Station Yards under construction, seen on Jan. 9, also...

The section of Station Yards under construction, seen on Jan. 9, also includes 388 luxury rental apartments and two parking garages with electric vehicle charging stations and more than 1,200 parking slots.  Credit: Randee Daddona

The section of Station Yards under construction also includes 388 luxury rental apartments and two parking garages with electric vehicle charging stations and more than 1,200 parking slots. Rental prices have not been established, Kelly said, adding that 20% of units will be reduced-price "workforce" apartments to comply with local and state affordable housing laws.

The first apartments should be occupied late this year, and retail shops should start opening in April 2024, Jim Coughlan said.

The 489-unit Alston apartment building, opened in 2020 as part of the project's first phase, is 96% occupied, Kelly said. 

Brookhaven Town officials in 2014 had approved a total of up to 1,450 residential units, 360,000 square feet of office space and 195,000 square feet of retail on 50 acres on the north side of the LIRR tracks. 

The project has received tens of millions of dollars in aid from state and local agencies, such as $50 million from Empire State Development, a $26.4 million Suffolk County grant for sewer hookups and a separate $2.3 million county grant for infrastructure upgrades. The Brookhaven Town Industrial Development Agency approved more than $24.5 million in tax breaks for the first two phases.

The name Station Yards is a nod to the Ronkonkoma train station and the area's history as a regional transportation hub, Jim Coughlan said, adding that it was chosen from among hundreds of ideas considered by company staff.

Another local project awaits approvals

Station Yards is one of two Ronkonkoma megaprojects expected to transform an area known mainly for its huge parking lot between the train station and Long Island MacArthur Airport.

The other project, Midway Crossing, a $2.8 billion development proposed by Suffolk County and Islip Town officials with Chicago developer JLL, is expected to include a convention center, life sciences facilities, a 300-room hotel and a new northern airport terminal connected by walkway to the Ronkonkoma train station.

The project awaits numerous local and state approvals. Planning and construction are expected to take 10 to 15 years.

Jim Coughlan said he thinks the two projects will complement one another when they are completed. 

“We’re excited about the idea of a convention center, very excited about the idea of the terminal moving to the north side of the airport and connecting to the train station, creating arguably the easiest connection from air to New York City with the right kind of people mover," he said. 

Matthew Cohen, president and chief executive of the Long Island Association business group, said Station Yards and Midway Crossing should prove to be “a real, real economic engine, not just for the local area but for the entire region.”

“Our region has been thirsting for this kind of development," Cohen told Newsday.

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