A multi-billion dollar project that could modernize the island’s transportation hubs and likely give its economy a huge boost has earned a key endorsement from the Long Island Regional Planning Council.
The planning body, whose board is comprised of Suffolk and Nassau business leaders and elected officials, unanimously declared the $2.8 billion Midway Crossing a project of regional significance. The designation could help attract funding for the behemoth proposal, which is being developed in a public-private partnership between the Town of Islip, Suffolk County and Chicago-based JLL (Jones Lang LaSalle).
“Today’s vote by the council is an important step toward super-charging Long Island’s already strong economy, with a state-of-the-art medical research, healthcare, hospitality, sports and entertainment development built around a transit hub ideally situated in the middle of Long Island,” said Derek Trulson, a vice chairman at JLL New York.
“JLL looks forward to continuing its partnership with the town, the county and other stakeholders throughout the development process,” he added.
Midway Crossing would sprawl across 179 acres of Suffolk County- and Town of Islip-owned property between the Long Island Rail Raod’s Ronkonkoma train station and MacArthur Airport. The development will connect the two transportation hubs for the first time, with a new 1,800-foot walkway for pedestrians. Currently, travelers must drive on Smithtown Avenue around the perimeter of the airport to travel between the destinations.
The project also proposes 2.7-million square feet for a myriad of scientific, entertainment and tourism space. According to a Long Island Regional Planning Board press releases, Midway Crossing will include facilities for medical research and healthcare, a 300-room hotel and convention center, a sports arena, and other retail and commercial components.
“Midway Crossing is a forward-thinking, public-private endeavor, which will be transformative not only in connecting the Long Island Rail Road to MacArthur Airport, but in establishing the very center of Long Island as a preferred destination for business and relaxation,” said Smithtown Supervisor Edward Wehrheim, a board member for the Long Island Regional Planning Council.
“This redevelopment builds upon the great progress already underway in energizing and reviving the Ronkonkoma hub with a housing and retail economy, Wehrheim continued, “and most significantly the project will create thousands of jobs for the people of Long Island.”
‘An economic boon’
The project, which is expected to be planned and constructed over the next 10 to 15 years, is projected to bring in billions for the local economy .
Upon full build out, the Long Island Regional Planning Commission said the project will produce $4.5 billion in total recurring annual economic impact. About $2.7 billion will come from all of the project’s elements, save for the airport, and $1.8 billion from airport improvements and associated tourism benefits and jobs.
The project will create thousands of jobs, including 4,300 positions in careers in the STEM and healthcare fields. The development partners estimate the combined phases of construction and development will yield a $1.95 billion total economic impact, while employing 14,500 individuals.
“This transformational project would benefit residents across all 10 of our towns, and bring an increase in tourism, business, and educational opportunities and advances to our region,” reads a joint letter of support to Sen. Chuck Schumer signed by eight Suffolk town supervisors. “We believe Midway Crossing’s leveraging of existing and regional assets will serve as an economic boon to all of Long Island and the state of New York.”
In addition to connecting the airport and the train station, Midway Crossing is expected to modernize the critical transportation hub in central Suffolk County. A new 300,000-square-foot air terminal will be constructed on the north side of MacArthur Airport to replace the existing terminal.
The proposal hallmarks sustainability, calling for electric vehicle charging stations and bicycle infrastructure. In conjunction with German tech company Siemens AG, JLL will develop a microgrid to generate the electricity necessary for much of the site and the airport from sustainable sources by 2030. The developer is committed to a net-zero carbon footprint by 2040, officials said.