Islip advances Heartland project

April 28, 2014 | David Winzelberg

One of Long Island’s largest mega-projects has taken another step closer to becoming a reality after the Islip Town Board voted to accept its environmental impact statement.

On Thursday, the town unanimously accepted the final environmental impact statement for the $4 billion Heartland Town Square development, which proposes to create 9,100 apartments, 1 million square feet of retail space and more than 3 million square feet of offices on 460 acres of former Pilgrim State Hospital land in Brentwood.

The first phase of the project, which still requires a change of zone and site plan approval, would build 3,500 apartments.

According to the project’s developer, the planned mix of rental apartments, shops, restaurants and offices will eventually generate about 23,000 permanent jobs, and at least 1,500 construction jobs annually throughout its build-out, which could easily eclipse 20 years.

As it is with most large development projects on Long Island, it’s been a long slog toward approvals. Developer Gerald Wolkoff purchased the property from the state for $20.1 million in 2001 and first proposed the project in 2002. After an initial public hearing on the plan in 2004, five years of back-and-forth negotiations with the developer passed before the town held the next public hearing in 2009.

There have been many obstacles, not the least of which was concern over traffic from the addition of thousands of residents and dozens of new businesses.
The Long Island Regional Economic Development Council put Heartland Town Square on its 2012 list of regionally significant projects and qualified it for $2.5 million in state funding that will go toward infrastructure and sewers.