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Hybrid work, LIRR, downtown living draw Long Islanders to TODs

A smiling senior man holding a white furry dog on a body leash next to a smiling woman wearing yellow

This article written by Claude Solnik and was originally published in Newsday

Sanford Bland and Bettie Thomas lived together in an apartment a 5-mile drive from the Wyandanch Long Island Rail Road stop. Then they heard about Wyandanch Village, a development going up near the station.

“I watched them build it and I thought it’d be a good idea,” Thomas, 71, said of the development they moved into in 2015. “With the way it’s set up, it’s very convenient.”

While houses are part of many Long Islanders’ American dreams, a growing number are opting for apartments in new transit-oriented developments (TODs) in downtown areas, while some opt for older buildings.

From millennials to the elderly, remote workers to retirees, those who aren’t ready for homeownership to those who have had enough of it, a new generation of renters is calling these hubs home, spurring a kind of railroad rental renaissance in a more walkable world.

“Retirees want to be there, because they don’t have to do the upkeep of the house and the yard and they can be within walking distance of restaurants,” said Eric Alexander, director of Northport-based Vision Long Island. “There’s the electricity of being near food options, hopping on the train.”

These buildings typically provide amenities, access to communal spaces and proximity to bustling downtowns as well as a short walk to the train, without the burdens — or benefits — of ownership.

“Most downtowns have a lot of food options,” said Alexander. “And there is access to commerce in New York City, commuting and recreation. Some people are environmentally minded and use mass transit that way.”

Alexander said 40 developers have built at least one TOD project on Long Island, sometimes with units billed as “affordable” to get construction subsidies. He said those units usually range from as low as under $1,500 a month to $5,000 and more.

“Typically the train stations were built around downtowns,” said Kelley Heck, executive vice president and partner at TRITEC Real Estate, which developed TODs in Ronkonkoma, Bay Shore, Lindenhurst and Patchogue, 1,500 feet from the Patchogue train station. “You can hop on a train and go to a show or a game.”

Remote (work) control near the LIRR

Emma Henderson, 29, a resident of The Hills at Port Jefferson Village, in Port Jefferson, moved from Manorville farther east last year. A marketing director, she’s a four-minute walk from the LIRR station (“I can see it from my balcony.”) and rides the Port Jefferson Ferry about once a month to work in Bridgeport, Connecticut.