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Hybrid work, LIRR, downtown living draw Long Islanders to TODs

exterior of Alston Station Yards

Sanford Bland and Bettie Thomas lived together in an apartment a 5-mile drive from the Wyandanch Long Island Rail Road stop. Then they heard about Wyandanch Village, a development going up near the station.

“I watched them build it and I thought it’d be a good idea,” Thomas, 71, said of the development they moved into in 2015. “With the way it’s set up, it’s very convenient.”

While houses are part of many Long Islanders’ American dreams, a growing number are opting for apartments in new transit-oriented developments (TODs) in downtown areas, while some opt for older buildings.

“Retirees want to be there, because they don’t have to do the upkeep of the house and the yard and they can be within walking distance of restaurants,” said Eric Alexander, director of Northport-based Vision Long Island. “There’s the electricity of being near food options, hopping on the train.”

These buildings typically provide amenities, access to communal spaces and proximity to bustling downtowns as well as a short walk to the train, without the burdens — or benefits — of ownership.

“Most downtowns have a lot of food options,” said Alexander. “And there is access to commerce in New York City, commuting and recreation. Some people are environmentally minded and use mass transit that way.”

Alexander said 40 developers have built at least one TOD project on Long Island, sometimes with units billed as “affordable” to get construction subsidies. He said those units usually range from as low as under $1,500 a month to $5,000 and more.

“Typically the train stations were built around downtowns,” said Kelley Heck, executive vice president and partner at TRITEC Real Estate, which developed TODs in Ronkonkoma, Bay Shore, Lindenhurst and Patchogue, 1,500 feet from the Patchogue train station. “You can hop on a train and go to a show or a game.”

Renting instead of owning a home

Mike Tewes, 52, and his family moved into a three-bedroom, two-bathroom unit in Alston Station Yards in Ronkonkoma as a temporary solution in June 2021. More than two years later, they’re still enjoying the lifestyle and plan to stay through September, when their lease ends.

“The apartments and the community spaces are luxurious and modern, clean, well-maintained,” Tewes said. “We like that we have access to two gyms and grill areas.”

They can entertain, using communal spaces and amenities that give them as well as visitors an added place to spend time. “We enjoy having friends over to use the pool, the fire pit lounges and the indoor lounges,” he said. “During the winter, it gets us out of the apartment.”

The chief information security officer for a financial institution, he moved from Smithtown with his family of four, including fiancee Rebecca Livingston, 47. He commutes to New York City, making the nearby train a big plus.

Read the full article in Newsday.