Plans Unveiled for 9,300-Unit Long Island Mixed-Use

Gerald Wolkoff, principal of Heartland Development, and his son, David, have devised a phased plan to complete a 9,300-unit project on the 462-acres of the former Pilgrim State Psychiatric Hospital in Brentwood, N.Y., on Long Island.In a recent meeting with the Long Island Regional Board, the father and son pair proposed that they intend to build the mixed-use development in a series of three phases. This phased idea is an updated version of a plan that Gerald Wolkoff initially revealed in 2003, two years after he purchased the Pilgrim site from the state for $21 million. The initial phase of the development–dubbed Heartland Town Square–will consist of 3,500 housing units, 300,000 square feet of office space and a 550,000-square-foot downtown area that will include a blend of shopping, restaurants and nightlife attractions. “The younger generations of people on Long Island, especially in Suffolk County, are bored and many of them are moving away,” said Wolkoff, who in over four decades of activity in commercial real estate has accumulated a portfolio consisting of more than 10 million square feet. “Our goal is to build a small scale New York City to keep the young people on Long Island so in 20 years we have a community large enough to maintain the local economy.” Heartland Town Square will offer its inhabitants affordable apartments and a taste of the Big Apple, explained Wolkoff. In order to create this experience, he and his son examined successful lifestyle centers in a variety of places, including Florida, California and Texas. The Wolkoffs plan on “taking the best components of these places and bringing them together on Long Island.” In the short term future, proponents of the plan believe that the close proximity between homes, jobs and mass transit will help combat the weak economy and record high oil prices. In addition to having a transportation manager to assist with organizing shuttles to the Deer Park train station, the project is anticipated to create about 20,000 jobs in the area. The duo are currently finishing up an environmental impact statement that they believe will be ready to present at a public hearing this September before the Islip Town Board. If all goes well, the digging should begin in the summer of 2009.