Long-vacant East Farmingdale site targeted for new housing


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Governor Kathy Hochul is issuing a request for proposals to purchase and develop new housing on a long-vacant 13-acre site in East Farmingdale.

Currently owned by the New York State Department of Transportation as part of Republic Airport, the site along Conklin Street has been the subject of several past proposals for development. 

This time, Empire State Development, in collaboration with the Town of Babylon, aims to establish “a mixed-use hub that provides critically needed residential housing and stimulates economic growth and new job opportunities within East Farmingdale and across the region,” according to a statement from the governor’s office. The development will be solicited to provide public open space, enhance pedestrian connectivity to surrounding commercial centers and deliver other community amenities. ESD anticipates that 20 percent of the housing at the project will be affordable housing units restricted to households earning 80 percent of the area median income. 

Some remediation may be needed on site for potential subsurface environmental contamination, which will be supported by an up to $4 million Department of Housing and Urban Development grant to the Town of Babylon, according to the statement. 

The narrow strip of land once owned by Fairchild Republic stretches east from Route 110 to New Highway and has gone from aviation hub to industrial ghost town. On the south side of Conklin Street is the 56-acre Airport Plaza, a 450,000-square-foot retail center near the main Fairchild Republic aircraft plant. But since Fairchild closed operations in 1987, nothing has been taking off on the abandoned site. 

In 1927, the Ranger Aircraft Engine Corp. was the first aviation firm to locate on the northern strip of the Fairchild property, where it constructed manufacturing and test facilities for aircraft engines. 

Republic Aviation Corp. purchased the property in 1955 and used the existing facilities for research and development and office space. The Farmingdale Co. owned the property from 1965 to 1972, when Fairchild Industries purchased it and used it as warehouse and office space. It closed in 1987, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. 

Save for a small right-of-way controlled by the Long Island Rail Road, which borders the site on the north, the parcel is now owned by the DOT. Over the years, ideas for redevelopment – more retail, a train station, housing – have come mostly from local politicians, businesses and the site’s largest neighbor, Republic Airport. 

In a statement, Hochul said the property, which serves no airport function, offers “a prime opportunity to transform what is currently a blighted and underutilized lot into a thriving mixed-use residential development that enhances housing options for a wide range of New Yorkers.” 

Development proposals should be submitted to Empire State Development by August 7. 

“We just secured a landmark housing deal that will make New York more affordable and livable, and now we’re getting to work to turn it into reality,” Hochul said. “Leveraging state-owned land is a significant opportunity to increase housing supply and help New Yorkers find a place to call home.” 

Matt Cohen, president and CEO of the Long Island Association applauded Hochul’s plan for the site. 

 “Our region is suffering from a dire housing shortage that is making it more unaffordable for people and businesses to thrive here which is why we are eager to partner with Governor Hochul who is sending a strong message by issuing the first state-owned land RFP right here in support of Long Island,” Cohen said via email. “This innovative public private investment with forward-thinking developers in East Farmingdale offers a promising opportunity to help reverse domestic migration and send a jolt through Long Island’s economy.”

The RFP advances Hochul’s vision for addressing the state’s housing crisis and builds on the agreement to increase the state’s housing supply as part of the Fiscal Year 2025 Enacted Budget. The budget includes: an opt-in tax incentive program for mixed-income and 100 percent affordable new construction or conversion multifamily rental projects outside of New York City; a $500 million capital fund to develop up to 15,000 new homes on state-owned land; new, strengthened protections for homeowners from deed theft; and more than $600 million in capital investments to support housing statewide, according to the statement.  

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