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HIA-LI’s 34th Annual Trade Show Executive Breakfast: Long Island Projects of Regional Significance

HIA-LI 34th Annual Trade Show Executive Breakfast panelists

The HIA-LI hosted its 34th Annual Trade Show and Conference on Thursday, May 26. The conference was kicked off with an Executive Breakfast, which included a panel of Long Island leaders in development discussing projects of regional significance. The panel was moderated by Marc Herbst, Executive Director of the Long Island Contractors’ Association with four speakers: Jim Coughlan, TRITEC Principal and HIA-LI Board member, Joe Campolo, Managing Partner at Compolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP, and HIA-LI Board member, Scott Burman, Principal at Engel Burman, and Rich Zapolsky, Principal at Cameron Engineering.

The panel centered on the major development projects that are in various stages of being built on Long Island and how they will each serve as an economic driver for the region. With so many layers of government within each municipality, including restrictive zoning ordinances and a notorious lack of support from community members, Long Island’s commercial and residential landscape has remained stagnant for generations. However, with the influx of capital investments for notable projects, Long Island’s economic future looks more optimistic, especially concerning the “brain drain” of Long Island’s biggest resource: its young professionals.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone began the event with a simple observation. “We need to build,” he said. “We need to build sustainably. We need to build in a way that is addressing the real and legitimate concerns of the community. But we need to build.”

Moderator Marc Herbst quickly outlines the region’s largest obstacle: NIMBYism. “Long Island has long been known as the place of NIMBY,” he said. “We say no to everything. These four guys who are sitting with us today—their businesses, their life stories—have been trying to build a better Long Island and whatever road was there, they hit. This is an example of persistence. And now we are in a place where we now say no to NIMBYism.”

Panelist Joe Campolo spoke to the economic impact of Long Island’s only regional airport, MacArthur, on the travel and tourism industry and applauded the efforts to bring in the newest airline Breeze Airways, which he designated as a “major coup” for the region. He spoke about the importance of public/private partnerships. “It is one big ecosystem, one big partnership on Long Island that has to come together to get things done,” he said. “People in government need to exhibit courage but we as business community members have to give those elected officials support.”

TRITEC Principal Jim Coughlan spoke to the critical need for mixed-use development projects to serve as anchors to revitalize blighted communities and serve as a means to drive up property values. He credited Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri as the lynchpin in the reshaping of Long Island’s downtowns, by showing early support for the New Village at Patchogue, which became a template for other downtowns and major development projects such as Station Square and the Alston in Ronkonkoma and The Wel Apartments in Lindenhurst, which have each spurred an influx of new businesses and a spike in neighboring property values.

And although it isn’t a sexy issue, Coughlan spoke to the importance of sewer infrastructure on Long Island as the bedrock for any progress in development. “TRITEC paid for the pump station for the sewage treatment facility on our site,” he said. This is critical for not only the Ronkonkoma project but will be able to service MacArthur Airport and for the Midway Crossings project that they support.

Rich Zapowski introduced the Midway Crossings project which will house approximately 179 acres and offer applications such as life sciences, healthcare, and hospitality, as well as a conference center and retail, restaurant, and entertainment spaces. “This is about connection,” he said.

Scott Burman discussed the highly-anticipated Superblock project in Long Beach, which will transform a long-vacant area of the city into a thriving 6-acre waterfront retail and residential area. 

The $369 million development will bring 238 rental apartments in a 10-story building called The Breeze, 200 condominium residences in two nine-story buildings called Isla Blu and about 6,500 square feet of retail space. 

“These are the types of projects that will strengthen Long Island’s economy,” Burman said. “These are the types of projects that will help us grow into the future.”

“These projects are hard,” Coughlan stated. “But they are happening.”