One of Long Island’s oldest shopping centers is planning a makeover that would include hundreds of apartments in addition to a revamped retail section.
Jefferson Plaza in Port Jefferson Station would be transformed into a miniature downtown with a main street dividing homes and shops, under plans drawn up by its owner, Islandia-based Staller Associates Realty.
The plan, which has been circulated among community groups, has the support of some Brookhaven Town officials and civic leaders, who say it would spruce up a downtrodden area.
“It’s a massive project. Most people who are aware of it are on board with it,” Salvatore Pitti, president of the Port Jefferson Station-Terryville Civic Association, told Newsday. “It’s a plus for the whole neighborhood. For us, we’re looking at it as the beating heart that will bring back the neighborhood.”
Port Jefferson Station-Terryville Chamber of Commerce president Jennifer Dzvonar said the plan would “clean up the area. It’s just going to boost everything.”
The new plaza would make use of a new Brookhaven zoning code that allows the addition of housing on commercial properties. Town officials have said the code, adopted two years ago, is intended to help redevelop aging or abandoned businesses.
Staller vice president Valentin Staller said the company has applied for the zoning change but a date for a public hearing has not been set by town officials.
Jefferson Plaza, located on a 10.4-acre site at the intersection of Terryville Road and state Route 112, was built in about 1959, three years after Roosevelt Field opened.
The 112,000-square-foot shopping center includes a paint store, gym and coffee shop, but several tenants such as Rite Aid have left in recent years.
Staller said plans for the revamped plaza call for 280 apartments, including 56 units reserved for people with developmental disabilities, and a 49,400-square-foot retail section including a food court, gym and other shops. A new street in the development could be closed for community events, he said.
“We spent a lot of time studying it, and we think the community really needs a lot of investment and it really needs mixed use,” he said. “We want to make this really pedestrian-friendly with restaurants and a food hall.”
Brookhaven and Suffolk County officials are discussing a plan to boost sewage treatment capacity for the project, Staller said.
Town Councilman Jonathan Kornreich said the plaza once was “a huge draw” for shoppers with its large parking lot and a variety of retail options. But in recent years it’s become outdated, he said.
“It was innovative in its day. Now with the update, they’re trying to be innovative again,” Kornreich said. “It’s going to be a huge breath of fresh air for that community.”