A new 55-and-older rental apartment project has been in the works in Nesconset, and as of last week, ground has officially been broken with plans full speed ahead.
Town officials joined developers from Hauppauge-based The Northwind Group Oct. 15 to show their support for The Preserve at Smithtown. Alongside the recently cleared lot off of Smithtown Boulevard in Nesconset near Chestnut Street, several members from the We Are Smithtown civic group protested against the development.
“We saw data from the town about what people wanted in a master plan,” James Bouklas, president of the group said. “And it isn’t this project. The residents overwhelmingly want less development, not more, lower density, not higher, they want walkable communities and amenities, like a community center.”
“The town is interested in development for the sake of development,” he added. “Their mantra is, build, baby, build.”
The project is planned to cost about $47 million and should be completed within the next two years. But according to Town of Smithtown planning director, Peter Hans, there has been approval for the site since 1988, initially with another developer. That project called for 192 units, and now, under The Northwind Group development, there will be 180 units built on 20 vacant acres.
“It won’t be heavily visible from Smithtown Boulevard,” he said. “A lot of the wood will be preserved.”
And at last Thursday’s groundbreaking, the elected officials all agreed this new development, despite what the naysayers might think, will have a positive impact.
“Everything we’re doing here is to help our economy,” town Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) said at the groundbreaking. “Because of the high taxes, people are leaving. We want to keep our community thriving.”
Vincent Puleo, the town clerk and president of the Nesconset Chamber of Commerce, said residents of the project will bring $11 million in disposable income to the area. “Smithtown Boulevard will become downtown driven,” he said. “The positives outweigh the negatives 100%.”
“Smithtown Boulevard will become downtown driven. The positives outweigh the negatives 100%.”
Jim Tsunis, managing member of Northwind, said he and his team are looking forward to bringing the project to provide new housing for Smithtown seniors.
“They will move out of their houses, get an apartment here and spend their money downtown,” he said.
“Turning that property into a senior-living development opens the door for Nesconset, which is a game changer,” town spokesperson Nicole Garguilo said. “Nesconset never had that centralized business district, but now Smithtown Boulevard will have that.”
But the peaceful protesters stood their ground.
“We are not against housing for seniors,” Bouklas said. “We are against density in our already dense neighborhoods, traffic on our congested roads and, most importantly, tax breaks for developers while the rest of us pay full price.”