Towns throw hat into the ring for Amazon
Town of Brookhaven supervisor Ed Romaine and Islip supervisor Angie Carpenter have announced that their towns would be aggressively pursuing Amazon’s HQ2 project Request for Proposal for Brookhaven Calabro Airport in Shirley and the Heartland development site in Brentwood respectively.
Brookhaven is joining the nationwide search for Amazon’s second headquarters in North America, in addition to two other sites on Long Island — Belmont Park and Heartland, the former Pilgrim State Psychiatric Center in Brentwood, announced by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone — as well as dozens of cities across the country.
According to Romaine, the town decided to compile an application for the RFP after checking off each box required to attract Amazon, including major roadways, airport access, lot size, transportation, and a highly educated workforce. Also, the site is less than five minutes from Brookhaven National Laboratory and only a short distance from Stony Brook University, and the MTA recently committed to electrifying the LIRR, which will eventually shorten the ride to New York City to just about an hour.
The project is estimated to create 50,000 jobs with $5 billion of investment. The site to be chosen, according to Amazon’s RFP, which is available online, must be within 45 minutes of an international airport, within 30 miles of a population center, have direct access to railroad, subway or bus, and be over 500,000 square feet.
“We have one of the highest-educated workforces in the entire United States, bar none,” Romaine said. “Anytime we looked at another box to check off, we were getting it, and said, ‘you know what? Let’s go for it.’ The jobs have an average salary of $100,000. This would be an economic shot in the arm for not only Brookhaven and Suffolk County, but also all of Long Island.”
Brookhaven Calabro Airport is over 500 acres and offers easy access to rail, highway networks, international airports and qualified talent, explained Romaine. Also, the old Dowling College campus to the north of the airport sits on an additional 108 acres, up for grabs, he added.
The airport, which currently houses about 225 private planes, according to the town’s department of general services, was built by the military during WWII, then given to the state. The state then gave the property to the town and the town added another runway and supported the site to relieve the larger airports of the private aircrafts.
Islip Town said that the Heartland Town Square site is by far the most suitable site for Amazon, a 452-acre, planned lifestyle community, approximately 40 miles from New York City, the financial capital of the world. It is connected to New York City by Interstate 495 on the northern border of the property, the Long Island Rail Road on the southern border, and within less than a 10-minute drive to Islip’s Long Island MacArthur Airport. Recently approved for this site on 132 acres is Phase I of a transit-oriented development including 3504 apartments, and nearly 1.2 million square feet of a commercial/retail space…a mini city.
“Islip Town and Suffolk County are an ideal match for Amazon. Our local economy is robust; we have a great history of innovation and entrepreneurialism; and our educated and talented workforce out-produce every other region in the country. Heartland Town Square is an approved, shovel-ready site, just waiting for Amazon to break ground,” said Islip supervisor Angie Carpenter.
During the press conference held at Calabro Airport on Thursday, Sept. 28, the announcement gained the support of the entire town board, other officials and industry representatives, including NYS Sen. Kenneth LaValle, Sen. Tom Croci, Assemb. Dean Murray and David Manning of the Brookhaven National Laboratory.
“This site is a prime location, pun intended,” said Croci, referencing the proximity to the railroads, airports and beaches as a nice spot for lunch. “No other site has our quality of life.”
According to Legis. Kate Browning (D-WF), who was not present at the press conference, the project would provide a huge economic benefit to the community and would hopefully not affect her plans for a sewage treatment plant at that site. If anything, she explained, the plant might be even more necessary and would take up less than 10 acres of the property.
The proposal was given to Empire State Development earlier this week for the state to review. Empire State Development will accept all proposals and submit the best one to Amazon. A decision, according to Romaine, should be made within the next six months. If selected, Calabro Airport would be turned over to the state, which would then work with Amazon.
Liz Finnegan contributed to this story.
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