The following was submitted to the Town of Huntington Planning Board on June 20, 2016.
My name is Richard Murdocco. I am the founder and publisher of The Foggiest Idea, and am land use columnist who writes professionally on regional real estate development issues. I am writing to share my thoughts on the proposed shopping center for the Mediavilla Orchards site.
After analyzing the proposal, I respectfully ask that the Planning Board ask if they feel that the developer is maximizing the vacant parcel’s full potential. A vacant site as large as this west of NYS Route 112 is a rare opportunity for transformative growth. It is encouraging the project may be scaled down – but a further reduction of footprint should be considered unless a more vibrant mixture of usage for the site is proposed. Why not cluster a dense multi-family development on 20% of the property, while preserving the remaining, unused 80% portion of the parcel?
The Planning Board should also consider the quality of the jobs being created by the retail-heavy project. Does the proposal take full advantage of Long Island’s educated, eager-to-work workforce, or are the positions slated to be generated low-wage retail that relies on a healthy regional and national economy to thrive?
Given the proximity of several supermarkets near the project site, as well as numerous commercial and retail vacancies, the Planning Board should also question if the additional square footage being proposed is necessary or even financially sustainable in the future decades.
In the end, civic groups in the Elwood area and the Town of Huntington need to think bigger with this property.
Our region needs to maximize the potential of what few large, vacant parcels are left in the western portion of Suffolk County.
The township and community should work with the developer to create a proposal worthy of the opportunity the site presents.