For the past several years, Long Island has been suffering from an identity crisis when it comes to housing. This has led to intense debate among market experts who have indicated the region’s approach to housing must change in order to maintain economic viability. In essence, we need housing that best suits current—and future—demand.
In real estate, best is a matter of need and perspective. From a traditional view, one may look to values that created the desire to live on Long Island. For some, it’s a single-family home on the water. For others, it may be living in one of the Island’s more accomplished school districts. A more recent desire may be to live in an apartment or condominium in a burgeoning downtown area.
After decades of trying to separate uses here in the nation’s first suburb, we are now in the midst of pulling a complete 180 and pushing for the integration of uses. Will this be best? No one can say at the moment, but it was the standard for development before the automobile (and Robert Moses) sparked the creation of our suburban Shangri-La, which has stubbornly resisted any deviation from that original blueprint. Given the reluctance to address the underlying issues associated with suburbia (i.e. the high cost of living), most experts agree that a significant change in attitude toward new development is needed to maintain the economic health of the region. And it’s not just from a perspective of affordability. There are market-rate and luxury developments in the wings that will cater to successful entrepreneurs and professionals looking for housing options other than the proverbial McMansion. Proposals for high-end, high-density developments in West Hills, adjacent to Oheka Castle, and at the former Bulova facility in Sag Harbor are two examples of what could be best for those groups.
In the still-recovering economy, this new approach to housing appears to be the best fit to meet the needs of the region. As a result, the call for denser housing developments in or near downtown areas and transit hubs will continue to grow stronger. We, like the technology we embrace, are becoming less attached and more mobile. As a result, the suburban premise is evolving and with it our opinions toward housing and how we will be best served. The many projects planned, and several already under way, illustrate the sea change taking place. For example, this premise is being used to revitalize downtown Patchogue. Its success may result in more of these developments being built, giving both renters and buyers a chance to find what suits them best, as well as offering builders and investors a new area to grow.