IDA: Big forward step for Huntington Station plan

Huntington dream: A new-look Huntington Station is a step closer, thanks to the Suffolk County IDA.

The Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency is a step closer to finalizing a tax-incentives package that would trigger a massive Huntington Station redevelopment effort.

At its meeting Thursday in Hauppauge, the Suffolk IDA issued preliminary approval of a deal that would encourage Renaissance Downtowns at Huntington Station LLC, a real estate development spinoff formed specifically for the Huntington Station project, to commence the first phase of a larger downtown-redevelopment effort.

Phase 1 includes construction of a 22,599-square-foot residential, retail and commercial space on town-owned property at the intersection of New York Avenue and Northridge Street, and such mixed-use efforts “are the types of projects we hope to support,” noted Suffolk IDA Executive Director Tony Catapano.

Tony Catapano: Suffolk IDA likes to mix it up.

Tony Catapano: Suffolk IDA likes to mix it up.

“They provide a great boost to the economy and community,” Catapano said. “The economic opportunities a project like this can provide a community are significant, especially when you consider its proximity to mass transit and main thoroughfares.”

Renaissance Downtowns at Huntington Station is an offshoot of Plainview-based master developer Renaissance Downtowns, which according to its website is “committed to economically, socially and environmentally responsible downtown revitalization.” The company has partnered with the Town of Huntington’s Economic Development Corp. and local property and business owners, as well as community residents, to develop its Huntington Station revitalization plans.

The development strategy, aimed at creating a transit-oriented downtown with the Long Island Rail Road’s Huntington stop at its heart, was unanimously approved by the Huntington Town Board in 2013.

While its current slate of roughly $12 billion in downtown-redevelopment work focuses mostly on New York State – with projects in Glen Cove, Hempstead and Southampton on Long Island, and in New Rochelle in Westchester County – Renaissance Downtowns, under the leadership of president Don Monti, has also been selected to redevelop properties in the Eastern Gateway section of the City of Nashua, NH.

Renaissance Downtowns is partnering on the New Rochelle effort – and others – with Uniondale-based RXR Realty under the auspices of RDRXR, a “joint venture between two of the Tri-State area’s most respected real estate firms,” according to the Renaissance Downtowns website.

RDRXR will be front-and-center in the Huntington Station project, starting with Northridge, the proposed mixed-use construction that includes 16 rental apartments and roughly 6,200 square feet of ground-floor retail and commercial space.

The idea is to transform an under-utilized municipal property that’s just a five-minute walk from the LIRR station into a tax-generating hub, noted Renaissance Downtowns Vice President of Development Ryan Porter.

“The entire Renaissance Downtowns RXR Team is excited to bring this first phase of development to fruition in partnership with the town, community and Suffolk County,” Porter said in a statement.

The Suffolk IDA’s preliminary approval “is the culmination of decades of collaborative efforts from both the public and private sectors to bring revitalization through sustainable development to Huntington Station,” Porter added.

It could also prove to be a boon for the hyper-local economy: As part of the approvals process for the Northridge project, developers signed a Community Benefit Agreement calling for at least 25 percent of contracting jobs on the project to go to Huntington Station-based contractors – with 25 percent of all construction jobs, and permanent jobs resulting from the work, “targeted to residents of Huntington Station,” according to the Suffolk IDA.

The IDA will consider final approval of the incentives package – which includes a combination of tax abatements, including a break on mortgage taxes – at a future meeting. But insiders are already touting the preliminary approval as a big forward step for the long-simmering Huntington Station plans.

“IDA assistance helps Renaissance Downtown at Huntington Station make this a viable project, while still offering the residents of Huntington Station a significant benefits package,” said Suffolk IDA Deputy Executive Director Kelly Morris. “The Northridge project will prove to be another example of how lowering costs for businesses in the short term leads to increased economic activity and a more expansive tax base in the long term.”