Gov. Kathy Hochul came to Kings Park Thursday morning to announce that the community was awarded Long Island’s latest $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant.
Hochul made the announcement before an assemblage of local elected officials and business and civic leaders at Kings Park High School. This is the first time in the DRI award’s eight-year history that a downtown in the Town of Smithtown has received the coveted state funding.
“This is a tremendous moment for the Kings Park community and Smithtown at large,” said Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim. “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. I want to thank Governor Hochul for recognizing our unwavering commitment in building a vibrant, sustainable downtown together.”
Kings Park beat out several other Long Island applicants from Nassau and Suffolk counties that were also vying for the 2023 DRI award. Previous DRI recipients include the Village of Westbury, which nabbed the very first DRI grant in 2016; Hicksville (Town of Oyster Bay), which received the DRI award in 2017; Central Islip (Town of Islip) in 2018; Baldwin (Town of Hempstead) in 2019; Amityville and Riverhead for 2020 and 2021; and Huntington Station for 2022.
“We are excited that the governor has provided the means for the community to realize the beautiful downtown we have all been working towards,” said Anthony Tanzi, president of the Kings Park Chamber of Commerce.
Kings Park embarked on a revitalization of its downtown in 2018 when Smithtown completed a comprehensive plan for Kings Park’s downtown following community visioning sessions led by the Kings Park Chamber of Commerce, the Kings Park Civic Association and Vision Long Island. Suffolk County’s expansion of the Kings Park sewer system, on which construction started recently, will make it possible for redevelopment of existing properties, new multifamily housing and new restaurants and businesses.
“For many years residents, business owners and multiple levels of government have been working together to create sewers for their downtown, plan for the modest growth of restaurants and housing while improving the walkability look and feel of Main Street,” said Eric Alexander, director of Vision Long Island. “Kudos to New York State for providing DRI grant funds to help this community achieve the goals that were planned locally.”
The first project pitched for Kings Park’s revitalization effort is a $20 million apartment development that would replace a long-vacant restaurant building located just steps away from the Kings Park Long Island Rail Road station. The rental complex from Farmingdale-based developer Terwilliger & Bartone Properties would bring 50 apartments to the site in the Tanzi Plaza shopping center.
Though many Long Island municipalities have embarked on projects to improve their downtowns without the state’s downtown revitalization funding, the money and planning assistance from the DRI has accelerated and amplified the process where it’s been awarded. Now that the DRI grant has been secured, Smithtown will form a local planning committee comprised of Kings Park business leaders and residents with input from state officials to determine which projects to fund.
The DRI funding has been used in a variety of ways to advance downtown revitalization initiatives, including the creation of new zoning, streetscape improvements, storefront rehab, pedestrian safety, and supporting new development projects.