• Tritec News

Tackling Long Island’s Construction Hurdles


TRITEC Executive Vice President and Partner Kelley Coughlan-Heck joined a panel of building experts last week to discuss the challenges facing Long Island’s construction industry and the strategies in place to deal with the region’s high costs and loss of young professionals.

Speaking at the Stony Brook University Real Estate Institute’s Spring Luncheon, Coughlan-Heck said TRITEC is focused on increasing Long Island’s supply of rental housing and retaining young residents through multifamily projects like Shoregate in Bay Shore and Ronkonkoma’s Station Yards, even as unique market conditions complicate the process.

“If you look around the country, a market with the same demographics as Long Island would probably have almost every national developer there,” Coughlan-Heck said. “Long Island is a difficult market from an entitlement standpoint, so addressing the supply issue is challenging, especially when we’re dealing with a very uncertain lending market.”

With insurance and other costs higher on Long Island, and with lenders increasingly hesitant to take on risk, Coughlan-Heck said, companies are forced to work harder to get coverage for vital housing projects.

“Prices never seem to come down as fast as they go up,” said Frank Vero, principal of Aurora Contractors. “We’re still paying gas surcharges from years ago. Prices have definitely normalized, but not to pre-Covid levels.”

Panelist Jason Samuels of Polsinelli Law said project speed is another hurdle that discourages developers and lenders. “There are so many different levels of government on Long Island. It’s a very time-consuming process, and I’ve worked on projects in other parts of the country that have been done in six months as opposed to six years or longer.”

The current political climate plays a role as well, Samuels said. “Politics create instability. When there’s instability, people freeze and do not want to invest.”

The panel agreed that multifamily developments and their ability to keep younger generations on Long Island are worth the extra effort and investment by everyone in the construction and housing industries.

“It’s our collective job to figure out a way to build more rental housing and keep our children and grandchildren from leaving because it’s cheaper,” said Marvin Rosen, insurance advisor for Rampart Insurance Services.

When complete, Station Yards will add nearly 1,500 homes and a projected 2,700 permanent jobs to the local market. Shoregate will add more than 400 apartments in downtown Bay Shore and generate an estimated $13 million in annual spending from its residents. Both developments cater to young professionals with modern amenities, transit access and adjacent restaurants, bars and social components.

TRITEC is also relocating its offices to Station Yards, a move partially designed to attract the type of young professional talent that might otherwise consider moving off the Island.

“The employees that make up TRITEC are family, and the strength of a family-oriented company comes from the employees who are standing with you day in and day out,” Coughlan-Heck said, though she joked that bringing on new staff has one drawback.

“We’re fortunate that our average employee tenure is around 12 years, but it’s gone down since we’ve hired so many new people.”