The Suffolk County Legislature on Tuesday approved an agreement to work with Islip Town on a $2.3 billion Ronkonkoma redevelopment that has been in the works for more than three years, Newsday reported.
The vote on the MacArthur Airport–centered project was unanimous, with one abstention.
Several steps remain before the 3.1 million-square-foot undertaking can get started. Sign-off is needed from local, county and state agencies, as well as the FAA because of an airport component. Officials believe the work will take 15 years, according to Newsday.
The low-scale, wide-ranging plan includes a new terminal on the northern portion of MacArthur Airport and a 190,000-square-foot convention center and a 300-room hotel nearby.
It also includes a sports and entertainment center with a 5,000-seat outdoor stadium and a 4,000-seat indoor arena, in addition to an office complex with a life sciences center.
Chicago-based JLL was tapped to lead the sweeping plan in 2018. Two months ago, the firm was also named the master developer for the MacArthur Airport portion of the project, under Islip’s jurisdiction. JLL executive Derek Trulson told Newsday that Midway Crossing is “the most transformational opportunity that Suffolk County has had in 50-plus years.”
Proponents believe it will invigorate the local economy and bring thousands of jobs to the area, Newsday reported. Opponents have raised concerns about traffic and cost, as well as the relocation of an Islip composting facility.
The project has evolved and devolved many times since Suffolk County first gave its go-ahead in 2018. At that time, the price tag for the envisioned 86-acre redevelopment came in at $1 billion.
Months later, JLL began scaling back, filing plans for a 7,500-seat arena and 6,000-seat seat stadium, the former a reduction from a 17,500-seat arena proposed to lure an NHL team. Both of those proposed venues have been further reduced since, but the overall cost of the project has doubled.
The project’s financing remains up in the air, according to Newsday, as officials hope federal stimulus money can be used.
[Newsday] — Holden Walter-Warner