Nicholas Spangler, Staff Writer
Newsday / www.newsday.com
“Groundbreaking is scheduled for Thursday at the downtown Copiague site where developers plan to build a 90-unit affordable rental apartment complex, Copiague Commons.
Like other so-called transit-oriented developments in Ronkonkoma, Wyandanch and Patchogue, Copiague Commons will be within walking distance of the hamlet’s Long Island Rail Road station, a location that project backers and planners say has growing cachet with seniors, young professionals and commuters who are carless by choice.
Town officials say the $33.5 million Copiague Commons is expected to be finished next spring. It is the first and so far the only project under rezoning passed last year intended to encourage denser building and mixed commercial and residential use in the hamlet’s downtown, dominated by low-slung commercial buildings.
Ultimately, they say, redevelopment will bring jobs and services to an area where median income trails the rest of the town.
“This is going to kick-start other private investment into that downtown,” said Marianne Garvin, president and chief executive officer of the nonprofit Community Development Corporation of Long Island, one of the developers.
Copiague Commons will also alleviate a rental housing shortage so severe that many of the nonprofit’s projects have 10 times as many applicants as available apartments, she said.
“All over Long Island, there’s a severe disconnect between need and supply,” she said, with much of the new housing stock too expensive for all but the affluent.
Babylon Town officials and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, a former Babylon supervisor, said the project has already sparked interest from businesses and developers but that few want the risk of pioneering.
The Copiague Commons developers are Rochester-based Conifer Realty and the Community Development Corporation of Long Island. Plans call for two 45-unit buildings with 56 one-bedroom and 34 two-bedroom apartments, along with street and infrastructure improvements and a public plaza.
According to the nonprofit, proposed rents for one-bedrooms will range from $1,193 to $1,450; two-bedroom rents will range from $1,431 to $1,850. The project is aimed at tenants earning 60 percent to 100 percent of the area’s median income, which is $106,200 for a family of four.