Seasons Change

I’ve always thought September should mark the beginning of the new year. Though it signals the end of summer season, it introduces us to fall, football, the new school year and—as it pertains to real estate—the second of the year’s two, big home-selling seasons.

Unfortunately, barring the high-end housing sector, the real estate market continues to suffer from the effects of the recession. On the whole, the market can best be described as being in Neutral and, at this point, it is not clear whether the economic shift lever will be pulled towards Drive or pushed to Reverse.

But that has not stopped the development community from planning to build once the economy does an about face. There are new residential real estate projects on the wing across Long Island that will greatly increase density and diversify the region’s housing stock. The cornerstone for these projects is the attached unit, which many see as the antidote to a lot of the region’s poisons. Nearly extinct are the days of the single family home subdivision. This is interesting in that, for many, Long Island is seen as the prototypical suburb, which was based on the single family home.

This brings me to a recent flight I was on coming back to Long Island from the Midwest. As with any flight approaching its destination, there was a mix of conversation between those familiar and those new to the area. I couldn’t help but overhear one brief discussion that went something like this: “What’s Long Island like?” “It’s mostly farms.” Farms?

The irony was not lost as most feel the Island is anything but bucolic. In fact, most see it as congested and quickly losing the appeal that brought many here in the first place. But planners assert that greater densities are inevitable and, more importantly, required. A number of factors, most related to cost of living, have triggered the abandonment of the once hallowed separation of uses for a hybrid, mixed-use development model, or what is often referred to as “smart growth.”

The concept is seen as the key to maintaining the economic viability of the region. The current lull in the real estate market has allowed this development model to gain traction. Village and town boards appear to be embracing the concept, so when the market does return, complexes of attached housing will be the dominant style being built.

That’s not to say there will be no single family homes built in the future—note the high-end market mentioned earlier—but it will not be the dominant form of residential development. For as the sun sets for it, it is rising for the multi-family model.

conor bly

Conor Bly has been writing about Long Island for the past 14 years covering, well, pretty much everything, from automobiles to zoning regulations. When not writing, much of his time is occupied by looking for that elusive perfect house.