Wincoram Commons; 176 rental units and 13,000 s/f of retail

Marianne Gavin, Community Development Corp. of Long Island
Marianne Gavin, Community Development Corp. of Long Island

Real estate development on Long Island is a challenge. But local municipalities have taken steps to let the development community know they are "open for business." For example, the town of Brookhaven created the Blight to Light program, selecting heavily blighted commercial sites to include, and said to developers: come to us with your plan for re-development and you will find a willing partner, if you adhere to certain criteria. Create mixed-use, smart growth walkable communities with affordable housing as a component, and we will listen.

Community Development Corporation of Long Island (CDCLI) and Conifer Realty jointly are developing Wincoram Commons in the hamlet of Coram, in the town of Brookhaven, because of the incentives in the Blight to Light program. Wincoram is a mixed-use development of 176 rental units of workforce housing and 13,300 s/f of retail; community building; public plaza; playground; open green space, preserved wetlands; and off-site sewer. There is a connector road from Route 112 and Route 25 that is the main street of the development, where retail consists of ground floor space with townhouses above.

Another key component of the success of this project is the active involvement of the local community, including the Coram Civic Association. Years before, local residents engaged in a visioning process for their community. The outcome was the Middle Country Land Use Plan, which mentioned our site as the perfect location for a mixed-use development with a connector road. Our conceptual site plan was very well received by the civic and they assisted us in improving it to the point where the Planning Board accepted our preliminary plan on the very night it was presented! The Coram Civic Association also named the project "Wincoram Commons" after the Indian Chief, Wincoram, that ruled in the 1600s.

Our vision for the project is now the same as the local community's: clean up the blight; create a safe and affordable place for young professionals to live so they stay on Long Island and businesses can attract and retain their employees; stimulate economic development by creating short term construction jobs and long term retail and property management jobs; finally have a hamlet center for Coram.

We are proud to be part of this effort and are so pleased with the many governmental partners that have provided the financing to make this happen: Suffolk County, New York State Homes and Community Renewal, and New York State Empire Development. Also the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council gets a special mention since they recognized this development as a Priority Project.

Development can happen on Long Island! We need it to happen in order to have vibrant, sustainable communities for our children and our grandchildren.

Marianne Garvin is the president and chief operating officer for the Community Development Corporation of Long Island, Centereach, N.Y.