• Tritec News

Economic Growth for Business and Our Economy

Bob Coughlan at the HIA Tradeshow

TRITEC Real Estate Company will invest over $1 billion in investment across its many Long Island projects with over $400 million invested so far, adding more than 2,500 new multi-family apartment units to a sparse housing market and generating 15,000 new jobs, according to TRITEC Co-founder and Principal Robert J. Coughlan.

All those developments, however, won’t be enough on their own to give Long Island the revitalized communities it needs to thrive, Coughlan said, urging residents to support projects to restore and build new downtown hubs across the area.

“These projects combined are a drop in the bucket of the supply that we need here on Long Island,” he said during HIA-LI’s 32nd Annual Trade Show. “Hopefully, all of you will recognize that … and come out and support efforts within your own communities to help revitalize much-needed housing and jobs and economic stimulus.”

Speaking at an online seminar “Transformational Projects: Economic Growth for Business and Our Economy” as part of the Trade Show’s Executive Program, Coughlan was joined by Mitch Pally, CEO of Long Island Builders Institute; Joe Campolo, Managing Partner of Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP and Russell Albanese, Chairman of the Albanese Organization to discuss ongoing development projects and the future of revitalization and housing on Long Island.

Coughlan said development — especially for multi-family housing units — is critical since Long Island’s demographics are rapidly shifting. Younger Long Islanders don’t want to live in the kind of separated single-family communities connected by car that have dominated Long Island since the rise of suburbia.

Instead, he said, the demand for walkable communities centered around multi-family housing units is rising. But while demand is skyrocketing due to the influx of those leaving urban areas in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Coughlan said Long Island’s housing is far short of where it needs to be, leading to high prices.

“Demographics have been changing significantly, but our housing product hasn’t,” he said. Long Island must commit to adding more affordable housing developments to support those who want to stay here, he added.

“If we don’t, prices are going to continue to go up and we’re going to chase those populations away,” Coughlan said.

Long Island-based TRITEC first recognized this issue 20 years ago, according to Coughlan, and transitioned from mainly commercial developments to more mixed-use projects, where retail space could be complemented by apartment units.

The New Village at Patchogue — started in 2006 and wrapping up construction in 2014 — was TRITEC’s first such development on Long Island and has been a huge success, Coughlan said. Apartment buildings have spurred a renaissance of new restaurants in Patchogue’s downtown district.

“That project became a catalyst for significant growth in the community,” he said, noting that the project helped generate nearly $700 million in economic benefits for the area.

Concerns about the project’s effect on schools were also unfounded, Coughlan said. Estimates show the local Patchogue school district saw a net boost of more than $5 million thanks to the development.

TRITEC’s ambitious Station Square at Ronkonkoma project has been in the works since 2012, when TRITEC was announced as the master developer for 53 acres of mostly blighted property around the LIRR train station. Coughlan said the project has been the result of a “community-driven initiative” to improve the area. The project has been zoned for 195,000 retail space and 1,450 residential units, 360,000 square feet of office space and has a new sewer system, thanks to the help of Suffolk County.

Coughlan said the project’s location —  sited next to the LIRR station, just north of Long Island MacArthur Airport and south of the Long Island Expressway — makes it an ideal location.

“We’re at the intersection of road, rail and air. This is one of the best TOD [Transit-Oriented Development] sites in the country,” Coughlan said. “We’re creating a mixed-use, transit-oriented, walkable community that Ronkonkoma and Suffolk County will be proud of.”

Phase One of the project, Alston at Station Square, has been completed, with 489 new rental units added. Coughlan said those apartments are being quickly snapped up, not just by those fleeing New York City but also those on Long Island who are downsizing after selling their homes to new residents.

TRITEC has numerous other projects, such as the Shipyard at Port Jefferson and Wel Apartments in Lindenhurst. The developers received approval last month for over 418 new units and 1,640 square feet of retail space in Bay Shore.

Coughlan said it was important to work with local communities during development.

“Every community we go into are proud of their community. They’re proud of their schools. They’re enthusiastic. They want the best for their community,” he said. Developers, he said, also want the communities they join to improve,because a vibrant healthy community improves the value of their projects..

One of the largest changes on the horizon is the redesign for the new Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge, which will revolutionize the area into a state-of-the-art industrial park featuring residences, co-working spaces and an innovation incubator, according to Campolo.

He said that thanks to the “political courage and determination” of local leaders, the new park is moving ahead with its plans. The Town of Smithtown recently updated its zoning rules to allow developers to file for an exception for mixed-use development, which could spur 1,000 new apartments at the site.

“Without their buy-in ... we’re doing nothing,” Campolo said. “This [would be] just an academic exercise.”

The zoning change alone at the Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge could create nearly 3,000 new construction jobs, $180 million in construction earnings and more than $472 million in new construction spending — a huge boost for the local economy.

Campolo also credited the support and collaboration between numerous partnerships for the site’s promising future, saying that even competition breeds efficiency, profitability and growth.

Albanese, who spoke about The Albanese Organization’s new Wyandanch Rising development, also cited partnerships of local stakeholders for their project’s success.

“This is an example of great cooperation,” he said. “Like any project that we’re all involved with, it’s very challenging but there’s also great reward being involved with community building like all this.”

The changes to Long Island in the next few years will make the area a much more enticing location, Pally said. The Long Island Builders Institute CEO was stunned by the thought that thanks to development in Ronkonkoma, Wyandanch and the new UBS Arena at Belmont Park, residents will soon be able to walk out their front doors, jump on a train and go to a New York Islanders hockey game — all without ever stepping foot in a car.

“What a transformation of Long Island that will be for people in Suffolk County to be able to get to and from the new Islander facility at Belmont by train,” Pally said.

But the region’s work isn’t done yet. All panelists said residents need to remain educated about the benefits of mixed-use development and how it can help keep family members from leaving the area for more affordable places. Coughlan also said misunderstandings about Industrial Development Agency tax abatements also can be confusing for residents.

Tax abatements through local IDAs aren’t government hand-outs, he said. The agreements merely delay when the property will pay full taxes, which makes securing capital funding from major institutions possible. Without tax incentives, many institutional lenders and investors would simply choose to invest in areas besides Long Island, he said. 

Moreover, all of TRITEC’s developments have paid more in taxes than the previous owners of the properties, even when factoring in IDA benefits.

Developers also must handle environmental concerns at the sites, and often engage in remediation efforts to clean up the areas they’re revitalizing from previous environmental harm, Pally said.

“The best way to get the site cleaned up is to redevelop the site,” he said.

Campolo said the challenges for developers can be daunting. He praised firms like TRITEC and Albanese for choosing to invest in Long Island, despite the hurdles.

“I don’t know that Long Island understands how lucky we are to have folks like Bob and like Russ here who are willing to take these risks,” he said. “These guys have taken such incredible risks. Developers go where they’re wanted and people don’t realize how difficult it is to get a project like this done, how difficult it is for all the stars to become aligned … with all of these challenges, we still have folks like this who have taken everything they have and doubled down on Long Island.”