By: Nicole Fuentes
Today, the American Planning Association named downtown Patchogue Village one of 13 great places in the United States, beginning the countdown to National Community Planning Month in October. The community will celebrate downtown Patchogue Village’s new designation on Oct. 19 at 11 a.m., at the Patchogue Theatre. A plaque with the designation will also be installed outside the theatre at that time.
“It’s an outstanding honor to be considered one of America’s great places, something we all know locally, but it’s nice to let the rest of America know as well,” said David Kennedy, executive director of the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce, elated by the honor.
As part of the 12th year recognizing great neighborhoods, streets and public spaces, APA chose Patchogue for its transformation and lively Main Street. It was selected as one of four neighborhoods and 13 places across the entire United States to receive the honor this year.
“The transformation that has occurred in Patchogue is nothing short of groundbreaking when you consider how much progress has been achieved in such a short amount of time,” said county executive Steve Bellone of the honor. “This downtown revitalization was made possible by a community-driven approach from the ground up led by mayor Pontieri.”
APA chooses places with exceptional character, quality and planning that enrich communities, facilitate economic growth and inspire others around the country. This year’s neighborhoods were chosen as places that had stories of revitalization.
Downtown Patchogue Village, according to APA president Kurt Christiansen, was once considered a “ghost town,” until the village turned to planning innovations like transit-oriented development, investments in local infrastructure, and early adoption of multifamily housing. Today, downtown Patchogue Village has reinvented itself as a regional dining, shopping and entertainment destination.
“Patchogue is one of those places that the community came in and basically redeveloped and reenergized the town,” he said — also referencing the theatre’s renovation — noting why the village was chosen. “We were impressed with the fact that this community didn’t want the area to [die], but really wanted to see how they could change it while also keeping the character.”
APA member and Patchogue resident Alex Wallach, he explained, nominated Patchogue and, out of several hundred submissions, it was selected as the only honoree on Long Island.
Wallach, an executive board member of the local APA NY Metro Chapter and alternate member of the Patchogue Zoning Board of Appeals, works for the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning by day and has a love for his home town.
“In 2017, I was looking for a place to live and fell in love with Patchogue. It checked all my boxes: affordable housing, close to water, arts, culture, restaurants,” he explained of his decision to move here and nominate the village. “Then I fell in love with the sense of community. Everyone had a story to tell of what Patchogue used to be and how it came to be. What I realized was that it was really a special and great place and deserved some national recognition.”
Wallach submitted the nomination in April of this year. After the Oct. 19 announcement at Fall Fest, there will be a walking tour followed by an after-party at the Blue Point Brewery hosted by the Patchogue Young Professionals.
“We all do great things, but when it’s noticed by people outside of your realm, you know they are genuinely recognizing you,” said mayor Paul Pontieri. “For me, personally, it’s an honor because of all the hard work we’ve all done.”
For more information about APA’s Great Neighborhoods, Great Streets and Great Public Spaces for 2019 and previous years, visit www.planning.org/greatplaces.
In addition to Patchogue Village, APA has also recognized the following Great Neighborhoods in 2019:
Since launching the Great Places in America program in 2007, APA has recognized 303 neighborhoods, streets and public spaces around the country. Designees are selected annually and represent the gold standard for a true sense of place, cultural and historical interest, community involvement and a vision for the future.
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The single-family home has long reigned on Long Island. But buyers increasingly are seeking condos, co-ops and town houses, thanks to ease of upkeep, a sense of community and price options from budget to luxury. As part of the 2017 federal tax reform measure, property tax deductions were capped at $10,000. Owners of condos, co-ops and town houses may have an advantage under the measure, as their taxes typically are lower than those of single-family homes. Here’s what to know when considering purchasing one of these units. Natalie and Jerry Pearlman stand in front of their condo at the Vineyards at Blue Point in Blue Point, a 55+ gated community on Dec. 18, 2018. Photo Credit: Randee Daddona
In a condominium community, buyers own the inside of their units but not the outside or the land it’s on. They jointly own common areas such as parking and walkways. Natalie Pearlman, 72, says she thought she’d never give up her Colonial and expansive property in Setauket, but her husband, Jerry, 74, talked her into it. They’ve been happily settled into a two-bedroom condo at the Vineyards at Blue Point since May 2018. “I don’t have property, but the actual size of the condo is large, and it’s very comfortable, and the community living is really very nice,” says Pearlman, a retired teacher. In co-ops, residents have a lease or contract that allows them to live in the units and use common areas. Residents collectively hold interest or shares in the nonprofit corporation that owns the building, which gives them a voice in who can live in the building and how it’s run. Town house residents own their entire units, inside and out, including the roof and exterior walls, as well as the land. Town houses are often larger than condos or co-ops and usually share walls with their neighbors. As with condos, common areas are jointly owned. Condos and co-ops are often in buildings with several units but may also be free-standing.
Each type of unit has its own financial considerations. Co-op purchases are often the most difficult, says Warren Goldberg, president of Mortgage Wealth Advisors in Plainview. “Once the borrower is approved for their mortgage, the borrower still must undergo what is often an even more invasive ‘underwriting’ by the co-op board itself,” Goldberg says. “More applications, supporting documentation and then an interview to ensure the board feels these applicants are worthy of becoming their neighbors.” Bank financing for a condo is often easier to obtain than for a co-op because if an owner defaults, it’s easier for banks to sell the condo. As for townhouses, they are often underwritten as attached single-family homes, Goldberg says. Potential buyers of any type of unit must check monthly fees and what they cover. According to the National Association of Realtors, condo owners pay their own mortgages and property taxes, while fees usually cover interior and exterior maintenance, security such as cameras, insurance and a reserve fund for major repairs such as roofing. The fee may also cover some utilities. Co-op owners usually are on the hook for part of the cost of operating and maintaining the cooperative, often called a monthly maintenance fee. The fee can include blanket mortgage payments, property taxes, management fees, maintenance costs, insurance premiums, utilities, and contributions to reserve funds, according to the National Association of Housing Cooperatives. For example, the monthly maintenance fee of $725 for a co-op for sale in Great Neck covers heat, water and taxes. The fees for town houses often are lower, but homeowners make many of their own repairs and upgrades. Fees usually cover some maintenance as well as trash removal.
Co-ops often cost less to buy than condos. Also, residents tend to stay there longer and subletting is often not allowed. “They are most often less expensive than these alternative forms of homeownership, and they’re less expensive to maintain,” Goldberg says. “But they also typically do not realize the same appreciation that a house, town house or condo will see.” Bradley Honigman, 34, an attorney, moved with his family to a co-op in Great Neck Plaza in late summer 2018. Honigman and wife, Angeline, 33, an artist, had shared a 650-square-foot apartment in Manhattan, but quickly grew out of it when they added their son to the mix. Now the Honigmans enjoy 1,200 square feet of living space, and the Long Island Rail Road station within walking distance keeps Honigman’s Manhattan commute bearable. Honigman says he and his wife weren’t especially familiar with the distinction between a co-op and a condo. “The price tag was probably the most important thing to us,” Honigman says. “It was hard to find a house or even a condo in our price range.” Working with Fabienne Sameyah of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty, they looked at several units and settled on a three-bedroom unit for $478,000.
Buyers may wonder whether they should purchase a unit of any kind in an unfinished development. One advantage of doing so is the ability to choose floor plans and custom features. Early buyers can also snap up units with the best views and locations or grab adjoining units and combine them into a larger place. Also, early buyers are able to lock in residences at a lower price and may see increased equity on their investment sooner, says Joe Graziose, executive vice president of residential development and construction at RXR Realty. But it’s important to consider whether the risks outweigh the potential drawbacks. New construction is not an option for those who need a place to live right away. At Glen Cove’s The Beacon at Garvies Point, for example, about half of its 167 units are not scheduled to be completed until the end of this year.
Check to see what kinds of modifications can be made to units and how they can be decorated. Often, homeowners’ associations for condos and town houses restrict such changes as exterior paint color and may even regulate potted plants and Christmas lights.
At the Garvies Point development on Glen Cove’s waterfront, residents will have their own beach. People at the Ritz-Carlton Residences in North Hills get dog walkers. More common amenities at Long Island developments include pools, gyms and party rooms. Buyers must consider what’s important to them. Neera Tewari an anesthesiologist at Stony Brook University Hospital, says she is looking forward to her second home at The Beacon at Garvies Point, where units start at $700,000. The 167-unit Beacon is one of the first phases of the Garvies Point development. RXR Realty plans to build a total of 1,100 condominiums and apartments. Tewari, her husband, Vineet Gambhir, also an anesthesiologist, and their two daughters have lived in their single-family Dix Hills home for more than 15 years. They were looking for waterfront property when they landed on a two-bedroom home at The Beacon. For Tewari, the combination of recreation, shopping and living space is the main draw. “It’s going to have everything in one spot for me, for my kids,” she says. “You know, with busy lifestyles; we have to squeeze in whatever we can when we have the time.”
When Sally and Fred Burgess wanted to downsize in 2007, after their children left home, their first thought was to move to Center Moriches, a seaside hamlet in Suffolk County west of the Hamptons. “We wanted to be nearer the water,” said Ms. Burgess, 50, who had been living with her husband in nearby Manorville. Just as important to their decision were Mr. Burgess’s warm memories of growing up in Center Moriches. “It was all he talked about,” she said. After the couple bought a 1959 three-bedroom one-bath house for $349,000 and moved in, she came to see why Mr. Burgess, 53, a packaging supervisor for Newsday, was so enthusiastic. “It’s a throwback,” said Ms. Burgess, who works for a state agency in Suffolk County. “We have neighbors who look out for each other. It’s a wonderful, wonderful place.” Though there are some mansions, she said, many homes are modest — certainly compared with those in the Hamptons — and attract young families. Nearly everyone lives there full time. At first, Ms. Burgess said, she and her husband did not know their house was part of a 508-lot development, Holiday Beach, with its own neighborhood association. “We knew there was a beach, but we didn’t know much about it.” That soon changed. “When you’re mowing your lawn, everyone stops and says hello,” Ms. Burgess said. “Someone said, ‘Hey, we have a clubhouse. Come on down and meet everyone.’ They did, and six and a half years ago, she became president of the association, which has Friday-night gatherings and other activities.
The rest of the hamlet, she said, is just as friendly. Daniel J. Panico, 37, a councilman in the Town of Brookhaven, of which Center Moriches is part, said the hamlet has the “small-town feeling of what Long Island used to be.” He and his wife, Deanna, 30, a lawyer who works in Mineola, moved in 2014 to Center Moriches from Manorville with their son, Grant, now 2, paying $500,000 for a three-bedroom one-and-a-half-bath house on almost an acre bordering a creek. Center Moriches has become less rural and more residential in recent decades, said Herbert J. Strobel, 53, who runs the 28-acre Thee’s Dairy Farm, which has been in his family for nearly 100 years. He grew up milking cows on the farm, then earned three degrees in animal sciences and microbiology at Cornell University and taught at the University of Kentucky. About 10 years ago, Mr. Strobel returned to the farm, where he now grows hay and raises a few sheep; the milk business is no longer viable, he said. When he was growing up, Center Moriches “was known as a very sleepy waterfront community,” he said. It is still slow-paced, he said, “but everything is relative.” Residents include scientists who work at Brookhaven National Laboratory, he said, and, “considering how many trade trucks I see coming back from the Hamptons,” many who provide services there. Center Moriches is not the Hamptons, Mr. Strobel said, but whether it is part of the East End of Long Island “depends on who you talk to.” “If they moved out here from, say, Hicksville, they call it the East End,” he said. “If they make another hop and move to Southampton, then it’s not anymore.”
A hamlet, or unincorporated area, Center Moriches stretches from Sunrise Highway on the north to Moriches Bay, where four jagged fingers of land separated by long creeks reach out toward Fire Island. Covering 5.6 square miles, it is bordered on the west by Moriches and on the east by East Moriches. Of the three communities, it has the most shops and restaurants along its Main Street, which is part of Montauk Highway. The census bureau estimated its 2014 population as 8,363. According to Mr. Panico, the Brookhaven councilman, the town is now rezoning to avoid “overdevelopment, the retail sprawl common to the west.” The town also recently refurbished the 13-acre Kaler’s Pond Park, which has a pond where people may fish, two playgrounds, and a memorial to the 230 people who died in 1996 when TWA Flight 800 exploded over the ocean near Center Moriches. (Another memorial is in Mount Pleasant Cemetery nearby.) The section of the hamlet toward Sunrise Highway on the north is filled with modest homes, a little new construction and some industrial locations. The southern area is dotted with marinas, private docks and beaches. Probably the hamlet’s most notorious spot is Lindenmere, a bayfront estate that in the 1980s belonged to the Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his wife, Imelda. Once a hotel, it is now being refurbished by a new owner, Janet Davis, as an upscale bed-and-breakfast.
The median sales price for single-family homes for the 12 months ending July 31 was $339,500, according to Vivian DeBlasi, a broker with Gateway to the Hamptons Real Estate. This was an increase of about 7 percent over the median for the previous 12 months, said Ms. DeBlasi, based on Multiple Listing Service of Long Island statistics. On Aug. 15, there were 78 homes listed for sale, she said, ranging from $119,900 (for a two-bedroom one-bath 1928 ranch on 0.12 acre) to $2.615 million (for a five-bedroom four-and-a-half-bath 1993 waterfront home on 4.23 acres with a pool and a tennis court). The median list price was $430,000. One condominium, with two bedrooms and two baths, in a 55-and-over community, was listed, at $579,000. Rentals are scarce, Ms. DeBlasi said.
Terrell River County Park has 263 wooded acres for hiking and bird watching. Webby’s Park, a town park on the bay, has the only public beach in the hamlet, a playground and picnic tables. The Terry-Ketcham Inn, a former farmhouse and tavern, is being restored by the Ketcham Inn Foundation, and guided tours are available on weekends, said Bertram E. Seides, the foundation’s president. An adjoining bookstore is a gathering spot that is open most days. Nearby, the Moriches Bay Historical Society, of which Mr. Seides is also president, maintains another house museum, the Havens Homestead, built in 1740, which hosts concerts and other outdoor events. In another area, the Masury Estate Ballroom, a national landmark built about 1898, is now owned by the Holiday Beach Property Owners Association and opens for tours on Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon. Kayaking, sailing and bike riding are popular pastimes.
Most homes are part of the Center Moriches School District, which has 1,645 students, said Russell J. Stewart, the superintendent. The district has one elementary school, one middle school, one high school and a universal prekindergarten. “An $8 million capital bond just passed, and we are upgrading many things,” Mr. Stewart said, including high school science laboratories. Average SAT scores in 2015 were 494 in reading, 502 in math and 471 in writing, versus state scores of 489, 502 and 478.
The drive to Manhattan can take two hours, even without heavy traffic, residents said. The hamlet has no Long Island Rail Road stop;residents often drive about a half-hour to the Ronkonkoma station, or about 15 minutes to the Mastic Shirley station, on a different line. A 7:04 a.m. train from Ronkonkoma is scheduled to arrive at Penn Station at 8:19 a.m; a 7:05 a.m. train from Mastic Shirley, at 8:42. From Ronkonkoma, a monthly pass is $377; from Mastic Shirley, $446.
The Terry-Ketcham Inn, on what was once called the Kings Highway (now Montauk Highway), started as a cottage in the 1600s, and grew with four additions from circa 1700 to 1790, when a tavern was added. In 1791, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison stayed there on a trip to visit Gen. William Floyd in nearby Mastic, according to a Ketcham Inn Foundation pamphlet. During the Civil War, military volunteers drilled at the inn. The site is a town, state and national landmark.