Patch recently caught up with Jim Morgo, Brookhaven's economic development coordinator, to discuss Patchogue's downtown makeover.
Morgo, who was once Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy's chief deputy, said the Village's rebirth has just begun.
"I've been involved as someone who was able to find funding and someone able to work with the different levels of governments to make this happen," Morgo said.
Morgo said he was approached by Mayor Paul Pontieri in 2004, when he was president of the Long Island Housing Partnership, to discuss a strategy to bring younger people into the area.
"Back then the Patchogue vacancy rate along Main Street and Ocean Avenue was something like 58 percent, but through a really focused direction by the Village Board, by Mayor Pontieri, and by the county and state, resources were given to this downtown, and it's flourished," Morgo said.
The first of the housing projects that was completed is the Copper Beach Village, which is a neighborhood of 80 homes on 16 acres of property. The homes were designed to give younger families affordable housing on Main Street.
"This was once blighted property, there were run down stores, dilapidated residencies, and was really causing a negative effect on the Village of Patchogue," Morgo said.
Morgo assisted the Village Board and Pontieri to secure funding to get housing into the area, and the Village contracted private developer Pulte Homes. Half of the 80 residents were designated as "affordable housing" for first-time homeowners priced at under $200,000 for a two-bedroom, three-level townhouse. The remaining 40 went for market prices.
Morgo said that the building of this Village is what spurred the construction of the upcoming Artspace housing, 43 affordable rental apartments for members of the artist community, and the New Village, a recently announced development that will place retail, apartments, and a hotel in the location of the former Sweezy's department store. Morgo said the various development projects should be completed by 2012.
"The key thing, is that when you have new homes and residencies with new jobs, you have more people paying taxes. As you expand the tax base, the property taxes for those that are already here go down. Probably as important as bringing down taxes, you bring in more sales tax," Morgo said. He said the extra revenue to the Village should go towards the development of parks and schools.
Morgo said that the Village's municipal sewer system was key in allowing the development of this much housing in the downtown area.
"If you were here four or five years ago, you saw it wasn't a very good place to be. It is now and it is going to get better," Morgo said.
Morgo also runs his own consulting firm, Morgo Private Public Strategies Inc.