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EDITORIAL: Artspace groundbreaking creates Patchogue buzz

Step by step, the Village of Patchogue is doing what others are talking about: creating an exciting downtown to keep and attract young people. The latest move was a groundbreaking last week for Artspace Patchogue Lofts, 45 affordable rental units for artists, plus retail on the ground floor.

As we've seen repeatedly in the City of New York, when artists decide a neighborhood is cool, that's what it becomes. Patchogue is already on the way, with a successful downtown theater, an affordable housing complex just a short distance from Artspace, and the prospect of a hotel-residential-retail complex at the village's main intersection. This new project will add further vitality to that growing synergy.

The groundbreaking happened the day after the Long Island Index rolled out a report saying there are 8,300 acres Islandwide suitable for downtown revitalization - including many parking lots. This one will take four acres of underused lots off that total. So the timing was perfect, even if it was five years in the making.

It began with an Artspace project in Buffalo that started a buzz in the state. Suffolk officials suggested Riverhead and Patchogue to Artspace, the nonprofit developer for the arts, which came to Long Island to take a look. Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri and his village board pursued it aggressively, got help from the state and the county, and landed the project. Lesson learned: Community leadership is the key to bringing our downtowns back to life. hN