The old UA movie theater in Coram now has the funding in place to begin its transformation into a pedestrian-friendly complex of workforce rentals and mixed-use retail, town and state officials announced Thursday.

At a news conference in front of the dilapidated theater off Route 112, officials heralded the newly dubbed Wincoram Commons' 176 units of affordable workforce rental housing, and 13,300 square feet of commercial space.

"It's a win, win, win," said Ken Adams, president and chief executive of New York State's Empire State Development. "It's reclamation of an abandoned commercial site."

The $53-million development's affordable housing will help address a void in the region, Adams said. "We're keeping young people on Long Island," he said.

Developed by Rochester-based Conifer Realty and the nonprofit Community Development Corporation of Long Island, the first phase of the project is paid for through a mix of state, county and nonprofit funding.

The project was endorsed by the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, which spurred the New York State Homes and Community Renewal to approve $2.1 million in funding for the development, which is expected to leverage nearly $20 million in private equity.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Suffolk County has allocated $1.5 million from a housing capital program. The Empire State Development granted $1 million, and the Community Development Corporation of Long Island is loaning $500,000, said Marianne Garvin, CDCLI president and CEO.

The project is part of the local land use strategy for Coram, and officials attributed the momentum to two factors: the desire to eliminate an eyesore, and community support.

"They're very anxious to see this blighted site disappear and be replaced by a vibrant, mixed-use community," said Brookhaven Councilwoman Connie Kepert.

"We're not just building a development -- we're building a community," said Brookhaven Supervisor Edward P. Romaine.The idea to redevelop the 17.65-acre theater site started in 2002, even before the cinema was officially shuttered in 2004, according to Coram Civic Association president Erma Gluck. Groundbreaking is scheduled for this fall.