Increasing numbers of vacant commercial store fronts and office space along a two linear stretch at the William Floyd Parkway and Montauk Highway thoroughfares are going to be taking on new appearances as a new wave of revitalization emerges in the Tri-Hamlet Community.
Brookhaven Town Sixth District Councilman and Deputy Supervisor Dan Panico spoke with optimism about the host of new businesses that are making plans to set up shop in the Tri Hamlet’s business district during a recent interview. “There has been tremendous interest in redevelopment projects along the Mastic Shirley corridor,” Panico said. “Zwanger-Peseri Radiology is slated to go in across from Best Yet by the old karate studio, and a STAT Health Urgent Care is making plans for where the old Best Yet was located on the northwest corner of William Floyd Parkway and Montauk Highway,” Panico said.
Excited about the prospect of such a facility coming to Shirley, Beth Wahl, president of the Chamber of Commerce of the Mastics and Shirley said there is a significant “need” for an urgent care facility in the community: “Zwanger-Peseri and a new urgent care facility would be fabulous because this would really help the community because we don’t really have one of these,” Wahl said.
Leveling blight in the community is also in the cards. Panico explains: “The old laundromat west of McDonald’s on the north side of Montauk Highway is going to be demolished and negotiations are underway for a City MD to build a new 4,000 square foot building with landscaping which is proposed at the front of the Kohl’s Shopping Center,” Panico explained. Further down the road, owners of the popular Mama Lisa’s Italian Restaurant recently purchased a parcel of property just across Madison Street which will soon give way to a new and much-needed parking lot complete with landscaping,” Panico said. “This really fits a need because to their credit, they’ve (Mama’s Italian Restaurant) done very well.” With applications on the project already submitted to the Town of Brookhaven, Panico estimates this project will be complete by summer.
Pointing to a more recent blight, Wahl stated: “What we really need is to revitalize the Manor House which recently burned down.” Wahl said the Chamber of Commerce has a need for a venue to conduct their monthly meetings, as do other service organizations like Rotary and Kiwanis clubs. “There are very few places available for us to have our meetings,” Wahl pointed out.
Meanwhile, Panico cited a number of other properties in common ownership which businesses will be locating to. “A number of people have been interested in properties from the Mastic Post Office on Montauk Highway to Clinton Street,” Panico said. Businesses included in the strip are the cell phone store, beer distributor and automotive shop. The former Casola well-drilling is being eyed for a social gathering venue. The sewage capacity is something which will have to be addressed, Panico said. Wahl agrees. “Sewage capacity is a major issue and limits certain businesses terribly,” she said.
“The intent is to rehabilitate these buildings,” Panico said. In addition, Dairy Queen has an application for the north side of Montauk Highway between Carpet Express and Sign Design. The application has been held over following a public hearing of the town Planning Board at the request of local residents whose properties abuts the proposed Dairy Queen, Panico said “to ensure rear access the property is closed and to ensure a landscaped buffer.”
Wahl said she is “thrilled” at the prospect of merchants new to the area which will shape their businesses around already existing structures: “Any kind of growth we can have in this community is great, especially when it’s revitalizing empty buildings,” Wahl said. “That has always been a pet peeve of mine where new businesses come into the community and all they want to do is build and build new. Brookhaven Town should, as a rule, require new businesses to first look at empty stores,” Wahl explained. “And,” she continued, “the town should give these new businesses incentives like tax breaks, and this would go a long way toward getting rid of the blighted buildings. Anything we can do to get rid of the blighted buildings we have would be a huge asset,” Wahl said.
“In an area mixing development and redevelopment,” Panico said, “I sense from the activity and the interest that millions of dollars of investments are going to be made in Mastic and Shirley.”
Meanwhile, as the Village of Mastic Beach takes steps towards dissolution and prepares to revert back to town jurisdiction, Panico says officials are making plans to rehabilitate the Neighborhood Road area. Panico, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine and Town Planning Commissioner Tulio Bertoli are exploring possible redevelopment plans for Mastic Beach. “We will be meeting with the Long Island Builders’ Institute to review redevelopment in the Mastic Beach area, looking at sites for redevelopment,” Panico said, pointing out, “We’ve already done a number of site visits.” According to outgoing Mastic Beach Village Mayor Maura Speri, the 200 Neighborhood Revitalization Plan has been taken off the shelf and dusted off as officials revisit the concept of breathing new life into the local community.
The “site visits” are what outgoing Mastic Beach Village Mayor Maura Speri has coined “The Mayor’s Tour” upon which she says she has taken dozens of elected officials. “This was a great tour, and I am very optimistic because what we also have here are six miles of beautiful, accessible waterfront,” Speri said. “We received grant money for waterfront revitalization and we are going to continue to work on moving Mastic Beach forward in a positive direction,” she said. Panico agrees: “We’re exploring this now even before the transition because on Day One we want to hit the ground running because for too long the people of Mastic Beach have dealt with a downtown that has been sorely in need of revitalization,” Panico said.
Speri said sewers on Neighborhood and Mastic roads must be addressed first and foremost, followed by eco-tourism, restaurants, clubs, cafes, bike trails, kayaking and connecting the historic Mansion of St. George to the William Floyd Estate.
“We are going to try to attract the kinds of businesses like a medical facility, a bank, a coffee shop – we have to market the area for businesses to site on Neighborhood Road because this community has great potential,” Panico said.