New York awards Kings Park $10 million for downtown revitalization


The town of Smithtown has been selected as Long Island’s latest recipient of a $10 million investment from a state economic development campaign that’s aimed at bringing new life to downtowns across the state.

The award from New York State’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative focuses on Kings Park, with Governor Kathy Hochul traveling to the North Shore last month to promote ongoing efforts to build hundreds of housing units in the hamlet while creating a more walkable downtown structured around the hamlet’s Long Island Rail Road station.

“If someone had told us that if we applied and had a vision that was created by our local residents, that the state would fund it to the tune of $10 million for the DRI, I would have thought I died and went to heaven,” Hochul said during a Jan. 18 speech at Kings Park High School. 

Westbury, Hicksville, Central Islip, Baldwin, Amityville, Riverhead and Huntington Station were Long Island’s previous $10 million winners through the state initiative, which was created in 2016. In addition, Mineola and Brookhaven-Northport will receive $4.5 million each from the New York Forward Program for the Empire State’s smaller and rural communities.

Hochul touted the potentially transformative aim of the programs for housing, transportation, retail and waterfront access in downtowns across the state.

“It’s not just the physical, it’s the psychology that changes,” she said. “People that have been down on their communities, who don’t feel they have the luster that they should have… when those transformations happen, peoples’ minds start to change.”

For Smithtown-Kings Park, the hoped-for transformation of its downtown will include the creation of a strategic investment plan with up to $300,000 in planning funds from the $10 million grant. The blueprint is supposed to map out projects that align with the community’s vision for Kings Park.

The town of Smithtown has already made some moves toward overhauling the Kings Park downtown in ways that align with the state’s vision, including making zoning changes that would allow for 300 more housing units and enable future development. 

One such development is Cornerstone Kings Park, a $20 million project that will add 50 apartments — studios, plus one- and two-bedroom units — to the area across from the Kings Park LIRR station.

The town of Smithtown has applied to be designated by the state as a “Pro-Housing Community,” with Suffolk County also starting work on a sewer expansion project within the Downtown Revitalization Initiative area of Kings Park through a $20 million state grant.

In 2020, Smithtown began drafting a master plan — its first such comprehensive roadmap since 1957 — to revitalize its downtown areas, including Kings Park. In November, the town selected a firm that has worked on other Long Island transit-oriented downtown makeovers to serve as master developer for a part of Smithtown that’s now home to parking lots and small commercial spaces.

The $10 million award from the state gives a boost to those earlier efforts.

“This is a historic moment for the hamlet of Kings Park and the people of Smithtown,” said Edward Wehrheim, town supervisor for Smithtown. “It is the culmination of years of community-based planning, working together with dedicated planning and environmental experts, local businesses, civic leaders, our great school districts and our partners in government.” 

The smaller awards for North Bellport and Mineola are also designed to boost development and business districts near LIRR stations.

Paul Pereira, the mayor of Mineola, said the village has been “leading the way in downtown revitalization, smart growth and transit-oriented development” for close to two decades.

“This award not only validates the work that the village has been doing for the last 20 years, but it also prepares us for the next 20 years,” he said. “It will help the village better prepare its infrastructure for the continued growth and development of our downtown.”

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