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OpinionEditorial

Developing the building blocks of LI's future

Apartments are proposed for the Long Island Innovation

Apartments are proposed for the Long Island Innovation Park in Hauppauge, parts of which front Motor Parkway and Old Willets Path. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

It’s easy to spotlight the big parcels of land across Long Island that we hope someday will be home to enormously important projects, from Belmont and both Hubs, to Heartland and Calverton.

But the smaller efforts to reuse, repurpose or revitalize the older, tired parcels that dot the Island are just as critical, as building blocks for the region’s future.

Officials across the Island should start looking closely at the properties in their communities that could benefit from a similar overhaul.

They can look to Long Island Innovation Park in Hauppauge as a prime example of what’s possible. The 1,650-acre area, once known as the Hauppauge Industrial Park, has long been zoned for light industrial development, with little potential for anything new. Dozens of parcels have remained vacant; hundreds more are used for storage.

Now, Smithtown has jump-started an effort to bring retail, apartments and office space to the park. Town officials are starting small, allowing an exemption for 13 parcels, each seven acres or larger, so developers can build mixed-use commercial and residential projects on those spaces. It’s an excellent first step, especially in a town like Smithtown, where nearly 90% of housing is single-family homes and where apartments and other economic development are desperately needed.

But it must be just the beginning of bringing a mix of uses to Innovation Park and other sites like it. There are lessons to be learned, for instance, for areas like the Route 110 corridor, where two years ago Babylon Town unfortunately ended plans to rezone the East Farmingdale area.

It’s not just about remaking industrial parks. Shopping malls, stand-alone department stores and strip malls are being eyed, too. The clearest example: Seritage Growth Properties’ plan to redevelop Hicksville’s Sears site into a mix of apartments, retail and more. Look, too, at the Macy’s property in Manhasset, which is ripe for a reimagining.

Also critical: the continued redevelopment of Long Island’s downtowns. Last month, Roslyn Village became the latest to approve a rezoning, allowing as much as 60 units per acre and 40-foot tall buildings. For now, that’s limited to just two properties near the train station. Village officials should look for ways to do more.

As the coronavirus pandemic hit, several other downtown projects hit snags and delays, as meetings were put off and uncertainty reigned. We’re now seeing a restart of that work, in areas like Baldwin and Bay Shore. Local officials must move them forward, so Long Island can start its march forward, too.

— The editorial board

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