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Farmingdale Breaks New Ground

Work is officially underway on the construction of Jefferson Plaza—a $59 million transit-oriented development project at 120 Secatogue Avenue, next to the Long Island Railroad Station in Farmingdale—after six years of planning and preparation. 


“We put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this,” said Anthony Bartone, the project developer. 


Before any construction begins, crews will first demolish the existing property, which abuts the Fairfield Courtyard residences next door. Bartone said the crews plan to handle the demolition “surgically” to minimize debris.  


For Bartone, the groundbreaking ceremony was the culmination of his six-year effort to help revitalize his hometown, with plans for constructing two similar retail/residential mixed-use apartment buildings.


With the added support of a public-private partnership, Bartone was able to entice TDI Real Estate Holdings, LLC., a Texas developer, to assist in the two-year construction of Jefferson Plaza, which will be completed in two phases. The smaller of the two buildings is expected to open before the end of 2014, while the larger facility on the west side of the property won’t open until early 2015. 


Greg Blue, vice president of TDI, said that once the construction is complete, Jefferson Plaza will offer 19,400 square feet of retail space on the ground floor and 154 luxury apartments above. He added that 231 parking spaces will be installed underground for the anticipated 200-plus tenants. 


The housing will provide amenities strictly for residents, including three courtyards with barbecues, two clubhouses, a fitness center, a business lounge, a theater/media room and on-site management. Rent is estimated at just over $2,000 per month, with 16 apartment units reserved for “workforce housing” at a significantly reduced price.


“This project is going to be the talk of Long Island,” said Eric Alexander, the director of Vision Long Island. 


According to Alexander, Jefferson Plaza—while not yet constructed—will not only provide the village with much-needed housing, but has already served as a catalyst for recent efforts to revitalize business on Main Street. Farmingdale went from 19 empty storefronts last spring, to only three vacancies this fall, he said. 


Although there are no definitive commitments for the retail space, as of yet, Bartone said the project has already attracted several national and regional businesses.


“The train station is our waterfront,” said Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand. 


For Ekstrand, who promised in a hard-fought campaign to see the $59 million project through, the construction is expected to trigger a “snowball effect,” bringing $100 million worth of development to the village over the next 18 months.


According to a study from planning consultants hired by the village, during the construction period the project will generate approximately $1.7 million in discretionary spending, thus increasing revenues for existing businesses on Main Street. In addition, the project will help create 178 new construction jobs and 55 permanent positions. 


“It will be the lynch-pin for transit-oriented development in Nassau County,” Ekstrand said. 


Following the ceremony, trucks began to excavate the site, while the crux of the demolition is scheduled for later in the week.