View Full Version : Heartland Town Square, Long Island

April 29th, 2003, 10:00 AM
Taking the First Step

Developer files plans for 'mini-city' at Pilgrim site

By Alan J. Wax and Erik Holm

April 29, 2003

Four months after taking the wraps off his vision for a $4-billion mini-city around Pilgrim State Psychiatric Center, developer Jerry Wolkoff yesterday took the first formal step toward securing zoning changes that would allow construction to get started.

While short on details of Wolkoff's scheme for the 452-acre site, the filing confirms plans announced in January for 9,000 apartments, a million square feet of upscale shopping, restaurants and millions of square feet of offices - including perhaps Long Island's tallest building - on the Brentwood property.

With its combination of housing, recreation and office space in one densely packed area, the development, called Heartland Town Square, would be Long Island's first re-imagining of the concept of suburbia since Levittown rose out of the Nassau potato fields 50 years ago.

Despite the grand scale of the proposal, the application filed with the Town of Islip has a limited scope. It seeks to change the zoning of the property from single-family residential to a special district called the Pilgrim State Planned Redevelopment District that would allow the sort of construction that Wolkoff envisions on the former hospital grounds. Current zoning allows for 492 homes.

"This is the first step in the right direction in doing the type of development that Long Island has been longing for and needing," Wolkoff said.

The Edgewood developer proposes changing the zoning to enable construction of 9,000 residential units, 1 million square feet of stores and 3 million square feet of offices, including a "signature building" that would rise 250 feet above the landscape, and a 100,000-square-foot aquarium on land that he bought last year from the state for $20.1 million.

Wolkoff has described Heartland Town Square as a place where cars are superfluous, a place with an active nighttime culture for adults and a strong sense of community.

With the filing of the 85-page application, questions about Wolkoff's concept will likely begin in earnest. The filing gives those expected to take a hard look at the project - environmentalists, preservationists and local residents among them - their first chance to sink their teeth into the proposal.

Among the disclosures: Of 172 acres of forested land, only 37 will remain. Open space, including forests, community-oriented open space, recreational areas and a preserved patient cemetery would total 135 acres. The property, located next to the Long Island Expressway and the Sagtikos Parkway, would contain 316 acres of roadway, up from 44 now. Landscaped land will more than double from 98 acres to 202. The number of parking spaces will be 27,650, compared with 3,000 now, and 9,950 vehicles per hour are estimated to pass through the site at the peak afternoon rush. The project would generate 1,510 construction jobs annually and 22,500 permanent jobs when completed in an estimated 17 to 20 years.

The Town of Islip, which will have the final say over the project through its planning department and town board, confirmed that it had received Wolkoff's application. Town spokeswoman Trish Pasciutti said the town would not comment on it until all the formal plans are filed with the town.

Wolkoff's lawyer, Herb Balin of East Meadow, said the first of as many as eight public hearings on the zoning application would not be held for at least six to nine months while town officials review the project and a draft environmental impact statement is prepared.

Wolkoff and Balin agreed that some public resistance was inevitable. But, said Balin, "The face of Long Island is changing. ... It will not be as bucolic as it once was, but there is no parcel better situated than this one" for the type of project that Wolkoff imagines.

Carving it Up. A look at proposed development for Heartland Town Square, to be built around the Pilgrim State Psychiatric center site.


Retail entertainment, with hotel, office, civic and residential areas.

Size: 180 acres (33% undeveloped)

Housing Units: 2,450


With hotel, shops, restaurants, and residential areas.

Size: 88 acres (31% undeveloped)

Housing Units: 1,500.


Multi-family housing.

Size 80 acres (30% undeveloped)

Housing Units: 2,400.


Multi-family housing.

Size 87 acres (30% undeveloped)

Housing Units: 2,650.

SOURCE: Zoning application to Islip town.

Copyright 2003, Newsday, Inc.

August 13th, 2003, 10:53 AM
I didn't know it was to be affordable housing. It's also desirable from an urbanistic standpoint (i.e. to control sprawl). I hope it will materialize.

TLOZ Link5
August 13th, 2003, 05:18 PM
It definitely sounds interesting. *In a few years' time it will be nice to see the NYC Metro Area sporting multiple skylines: *Midtown, the Financial District, Downtown Brooklyn, Long Island City, Jamaica Center, Jersey City, Newark, White Plains, and now Islip. *This is exciting.

August 22nd, 2003, 01:47 PM
I've heard that they are going to turn this city's existing power plant into an art museum. Where will it's electricity come from then?

TLOZ Link5
August 22nd, 2003, 09:50 PM
If the plant has aged out, there's not much you can do. *Power will have to come from outside the city.

December 20th, 2006, 09:32 PM
Wolkoff has described Heartland Town Square as a place where cars are superfluous, a place with an active nighttime culture for adults and a strong sense of community.
Anyone know if this was built? Photos?

January 5th, 2007, 11:25 PM
As much as I like this plan(I've gotten even more into urban planning), it has one MAJOR flaw that no one knows about. The Pilgrim Intermodal Yard. There have been plans for probably over a decade to build a rail yard where freight trains can come in and transfer their containers onto trucks. This is in an effort to reduce truck traffic over the length of LI to just short, regional jobs operating out of this yard. I'm not entirely sure if the development plan is on the exact same land as the proposed rail yard, or if they are adjacent. This is still an active plan, though talk of it has quited down.

If the yard doesn't get built first, I have a feeling it never will because the Heartland NIMBYs will fight it tooth and nail(then go and bitch and moan about being stuck behind so many trucks on the LIE).

All in all, I do hope both get built. Heartland is a good idea. The area is prime for development, and a project such as this(smart growth) is exactly what we need more of on Long Island. It's very close to the Deer Park train station, and with the density that is proposed, shuttles connecting the community and the train station will operate very successfully.

January 10th, 2007, 11:07 PM
Okay, I just found a layout map for the development and I must say, this place is screwed. First of all, G Road looks like it will remain the narrow two lane it is now. With all the development proposed for the area, as well as the impending truck traffic from the Pilgrim Intermodal Yard, this roads capacity needs to be expanded. One lane each way isn't going to cut it. Second, Jeff Wilson is relying entirely on a shuttle bus to provide residents of 9,000 residential units with transportation to the Deer Park train station. Even if only 1/3rd of those people were to be destined for Deer Park train station, it's far too many for a shuttle bus. This thing is going to have to run on some sort of rediculous headway, probably every 5 minutes, to get the people to the train station. A light rail service would work much more efficiently and cost FAR less in the long run. Also, a light rail service can be used not just for Heartland Town Square, but also for Suffolk County Community College, as well as the Hauppauge Industrial Park and the county offices nearby.

The third problem is that the "downtown" area that is supposed to be so energetic is within reasonable walking distance of the north side of the development only. The entire south side will have to rely on some sort of shuttle bus to get there.

Fourth, the section of the development east of the Sagtikos is seemingly completely disconnected from the rest of the community. Atleast have some sort of bridge on the south end of that part of the development.

This development plan works for the portion north of Pilgrim Psychiatric Hospital, but the rest of Heartland Town Square needs replanning. There should be another, smaller, "downtown" area for that side. Also, the area east of the Sagtikos shouldn't be so disconnected. And G Road needs to be expanded, even if Wilson is intending on very little personal vehicle use.

I call for leaving the Pilgrim Spur ROW open for light rail. Two stops on the south end and one east of the Sagtikos. Also, a new bridge across the parkway.

That's just my opinion. I'm drawing all the stuff up now on MSpaint. I'll post it here when I'm done

January 11th, 2007, 01:58 AM
Won't they be doing an environmental study first and won't that tell them if the roads will support the increased traffic or not?

Give them some credit.

January 11th, 2007, 03:25 PM
I give them plenty of credit for the north side. It looks very interesting and pretty well planned out.

And the EIS hopefully will tell them that they need to change the south end, unless they fudge it

Hey, we're all critics

January 17th, 2007, 12:33 AM
I know. ;)

I agree with you on the light rail btw.

Cities all across the nation have finally come to their senses and are embracing them.

It's time the New York metro area get smart and do the same.

January 17th, 2007, 03:38 PM
Just look at Jersey! Hudson Bergen Light Rail has done wonders and NJT can barely decide on where to send it to next because so many people want it. It's rediculous that the rest of the region hasn't embraced light rail as much. And what's even more rediculous. New York and Atlantic Railway is using a [poorly built] spur from the LIRR main line to reach the new Tanger site in Deer Park to help with materials removal from the site and the transpot of construction materials to the site. After the work is done, they will tear this up with no plans for LRT use. WHAT IS THAT!? Looking at the maps, it'd actually be the perfect extension for my LRT idea.

Oh well. BTW, thanks for the support