Transit Oriented Developments: The
Dynamic Solution to Save Long Island
Long Island is in a tough spot: land for new development and growth is running out, skilled
industries are still in the early stages of growth, lack of apartments result in few affordable and desirable housing options for the workforce, highways are congested, and water quality issues are seemingly endless.
With all of our region’s issues building upon each other, we need to look towards solutions that are similarly “interdisciplinary.”
Transit Oriented Developments (TOD) are residential and/or commercial developments located at or near mass transportation stations and major transit routes. Utilizing the infrastructure and assets that have already been built in transit/commercial corridors, new TOD developments with purposeful density can maximize our resources, help Long Island overcome our regional issues, and provide the lifestyle that Long Islanders are seeking in other regions throughout the U.S.
Here are some reasons why:
● Water Quality and Infrastructure
o Unsewered single family homes have septic tanks/cesspools that add nitrogen to
our aquifers and bodies of water. TODs are typically built in sewer districts and
do not come with massive amounts of landscaping/lawns to maintain . When new
development is built at scale, new infrastructure and water treatment efforts can
● Gainful Employment and Congestion
o Larger corporations locate themselves where employees can easily access their
place of work. Single family regions put workers far away from their workplace
and deepen the car dependency that is clogging Long Island’s streets/highways.
In addition, much of the younger workforce cannot afford, and/or do not desire
single family home living. TODs put workers right near mass transit which can
provide easy access to main employment regions.
● Transportation and Vibrant Downtowns
o Lack of ridership on mass transportation and lack of foot traffic in downtowns
cause lack of investment in transit and the inability of small businesses to stay
open. Having more residents in downtowns and on transit lines can justify
investment in improved transit and maintain a customer base for businesses in
● Lifestyle and Housing Affordability
o Single family homes are not where younger generations want to live and the lack
of apartments drives up housing prices on Long Island because single family
homes are forced upon seniors and young professionals. By providing more
housing options in places where people want to live, Long Island can make it
feasible for a full range of existing and future residents to live the lifestyle they
want to live.
● Open Space and Efficient Municipal Services
o Single family zoning forced housing to sprawl across the entire island, which
gave rise to our patchwork of governments and districts. By allowing new
development in transit/commercial regions that are already developed, Long
Island can allow grow without sacrificing open space. Also, municipal services
like education, utilities, and waste management are all better performed in
regions with density rather than regions of sprawl.
The Ronkonkoma Hub
One such Transit Oriented Development that is helping the future of Long Island can be found at the Ronkonkoma Hub. TRITEC Real Estate Co. is currently developing Station Square - a project that will eventually bring 1,450 residential units, 195,000 square feet of retail space, 360,000 square feet of office/commercial space and 60,000 square feet of flex space to the 53-acre site surrounding the Ronkonkoma LIRR Station.
Ronkonkoma is uniquely positioned .5 miles from the Long Island Expressway, 4 miles north of Sunrise Highway, 3 miles west of Nicolls Road, and sits adjacent to Long Island MacArthur
Airport - Long Island’s largest regional airport. The Ronkonkoma LIRR Station is Suffolk
County’s busiest rail station with over 17,000 weekday commuters and the MTA’s East Side
Access project is set to expand the Ronkonkoma Yard to 23 tracks because of the prominent
role this station plays in the LIRR system. Long Island MacArthur Airport is continuing to
advance it’s prominence as a regional airport with over $21 million of new infrastructure
upgrades in the last year, airlines expanding their service there, over 2 million passengers per year, and Governor Cuomo’s $100 billion plan to upgrade New York’s airports.
There is also a thriving commercial region in Ronkonkoma with over 2.79 million square feet of office space in 159 buildings and over 20.3 million square feet of industrial space in 831
buildings centered around the Veterans Memorial Highway (Route 454). This region also
includes the Town of Islip Foreign Trade Zone which offers a variety of benefits to companies
engaging in global trade to drive economic development.
With so many assets in one region, Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. is even proposing a $1 billion
mixed-use plan to transform ~86 acres of municipal property between the Ronkonkoma LIRR
station and Long Island MacArthur Airport. The proposal includes a convention center, a
300-key hotel, a 200,000 square foot medical research and STEM education complex, a 7,500
seat indoor arena, and a 6,000 seat outdoor soccer/lacrosse stadium with four to six outdoor
community practice fields. This project will give Long Island a much needed venue for
conferences, allow businesses to attract national/foreign talent, and even enable local sports
leagues to bolster their patron’s experience.
All of the information above is what drives the potential for the Ronkonkoma Hub. This region is already an economic hub of Long Island and can easily be transformed into a social/lifestyle hub of Long Island with the new developments from TRITEC and JLL. This scale of development allows innovative development practices to reduce community/environmental impact and provides the amenities that will keep our younger generations/businesses on Long Island.
Ronkonkoma is a centerpiece of Long Island. With these new Transit Oriented Developments in progress/being proposed, regional assets like the Innovation Park at Hauppauge, Stony Brook University, and Brookhaven National Laboratories can grow in tandem for the betterment of Long Island’s future.