Sprawling $300M project transforming long vacant CI campus

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By Dan Sears

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Two years into one of Long Island’s largest repurposing projects, an 87-acre portion of the former Central Islip campus of New York Institute of Technology is being transformed into a spacious mixed-use community by a partnership of area development firms. 

Bethpage-based Steel Equities and The Marcus Organization in Farmingdale have been hard at work on the first phase of the $300 million project called The Belmont at Eastview. Eight of the property’s existing brick buildings, many of which were constructed nearly a century ago, have already been converted into luxury apartments, with the remaining three buildings in phase one expected to be completed in the spring. 

Leasing began last summer and the 206 completed apartments, a mix of studios, one- and two-bedroom units, are 90 percent leased. The developers expect to complete the next 158 apartments, as well as the community’s new 18,000-square-foot clubhouse, by this June. 

Inside an apartment in The Belmont at Eastview community. / Photo by Judy Walker

Monthly rents range from $2,100 for a 600-square-foot studio to $4,500 for a 1,600-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment. Ten percent of the units were designated as affordable and offered at reduced rents. Most of the tenants at the gated Central Islip community are aged 25 to 45 and more than 50 percent of the residents are first responders, buoyed by a current lease promotion that offers first responders a 10 percent rent discount. 

The smallest buildings at the development have 23 apartments and the largest building has 123 apartments. Some of the residences have 12- to 13-foot ceilings and they all have in-unit washers and dryers, designer kitchens, free wi-fi and more. 

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“There are very few units that are alike because each building is so unique,” said Russell Mohr, vice president of Asset Management & Property Development for Steel Equities. “We are taking old structures and bringing them back to life.” 

A view of some of the walking paths and ample open space in The Belmont at Eastview development. / Photo by Judy Walker

About 60 percent of The Belmont at Eastview community is open space and green space, featuring walking, biking and fitness trails. The property borders the Town of Islip’s Gull Haven Golf Course and the developers are also helping to fund the restoration of an adjacent old baseball complex that the town plans to repurpose as a bandshell for community events. 

And there is much more to come. Phase two of the project will bring an additional 281 rental apartments and 81 for-sale condominiums for people aged 55 and over. The second phase will also bring the project’s commercial component, which includes about 55,000 square feet of new retail space anchored by an 18,000-square-foot grocery store to be located along Carleton Avenue and a new three-story, 40,000-square-foot medical office building. 

Besides the new construction planned for The Bemont at Eastview’s phase two, developers plan to repurpose a few other existing structures on the property, including transforming the 22,874-square-foot Robbins Hall into an entertainment venue and redeveloping a former chapel building into a 7,000-square-foot home for the NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine Family Healthcare Center. 

All in all, the massive Central Islip project, which is being assisted with incentives from the Islip Industrial Development Agency, will have created more than 1,000 construction jobs and many permanent jobs. 

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“When completed, this project will be a testament to a public-private partnership between the Town of Islip and the developers’ vision to bring a smart growth community to the Carlton Avenue corridor,” said Mohr. “It revitalizes a defunct campus that has been off the tax rolls and will now generate taxes, create construction jobs, permanent jobs, and provide the much-needed housing to the town and county to keep our workforce here on Long Island.” 

One of the smaller apartment buildings in The Belmont at Eastview complex. / Photo by Judy Walker

Steel Equities had originally proposed a 10-building industrial park for the property in 2018, but after several meetings with the community and town officials, the developer switched gears and the current plan was hatched. Mohr credited Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter and the area’s civic groups for their input and for making the project a reality. 

“The Belmont at Eastview is a shining example of how to build a development thoughtfully,” Carpenter said via email. “Not only have the beautiful decades-old buildings been repurposed, which is no small task, but the green space within the 87-acre project has been preserved, making a truly park-like setting. The developers were wise to seek community input, along with guidance from the town, which was essential to the project’s success.” 

Formerly occupied by the state’s Central Islip Psychiatric Center, NYIT bought more than 500 acres of the 750-acre hospital site in 1984 to establish a Suffolk County campus. In the 1990s, the school began selling off large chunks of the site for commercial development. 

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Since then, NYIT donated about 100 acres to the county for its Cohalan Court Complex and sold about 400 acres to various developers, creating more than 1,200 units of housing, an industrial park, a nine-hole golf course, a baseball stadium for the Long Island Ducks, two hotels and a retail center. 

The Belmont at Eastview project represents the largest adaptive reuse of buildings in the site’s sprawling development history, eventually adding another 726 residences and about 140,000 square feet of commercial space. Once phase two begins towards the end of the year, it will take about 18 months to complete. 

Nancy Manfredonia, a representative of the Central Islip Civic Council, called it an amazing project. 

“It’s the last piece of the puzzle of the Central Islip state hospital,” she said. “I believe that the master plan for the property has been an amazing success.” 

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