The Long Island Regional Planning Council announced the results of a first-of-its-kind economic impact study for the Village of Patchogue, finding that since its revitalization, the village has generated $693 million in total economic output, securing $37 million in grants and receiving $246 million in private construction investment, creating a new destination of arts, dining and entertainment.
The study, which began in the fall of last year, was completed by the awarded bidder, 4ward Planning, in December of this year, taking a look back at the last 20 years in Patchogue Village.
A Long island Regional Planning Council study conducted by 4ward Planning showed that the revitalization of Patchogue Village has created $693 million in total economic output.
The total cost of the project came in at just over $32,900 and was funded completely by the Suffolk County Development Corporation at no direct cost to the Patchogue taxpayers.
The council represents various interests and needs of Long Islanders, providing education, research planning, advocacy and leadership on important issues affecting the quality of life on Long Island and to express the purpose of promoting the physical, economic and social health of the region.
The downtown Patchogue redevelopment has been designated as a project of regional significance by the council and has become a model of community revitalization and redevelopment. According to the council, the study was done “to quantify Patchogue’s success, but also identify key factors that made it possible.”
A presentation of the results was revealed last Thursday, Dec. 6 at the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts during the council’s regular meeting.
“Without strong leadership, this would have never happened,” said chairman John Cameron upon introducing Patchogue mayor Paul Pontieri.
“The approach of this report was to look back at what happened in Patchogue over the past 20 years,” said Pontieri, “and what better place than where it all began, in 1996 with then-mayor Steve Keegan and his promise to bring back Main Street by starting with the theatre we are sitting in right now.
“Today is about an administration, chamber, community, school district and library working together to make this community what it is today,” he said, addressing the crowd of a few dozen. “This report tells a story of where we are and where we can be.”
Todd Poole, president and managing principal of 4ward Planning, presented the findings. According to Poole, the study conducted was done by using both quantitative and qualitative research with interviews of various members of the community to fill in the gaps data doesn’t show.
“Our charge was to go back in time, which was the first time a client asked us to look backwards rather than forwards,” he said. “It is commendable.”
The company, he said, dove into how public subsidies in grants, loans and tax exemptions created changes done by leveraging money and promoting private investment.
The history of Patchogue, he explained, comes from shipbuilding and heavy industry with downtown shops and theaters thriving through the 1960s, when vacancy rates began to increase. A natural rate is about 2 to 5 percent, he said, but by the ‘60s and ‘70s, vacancies were up by about 10 to 20 percent and in complete distress by the ‘80s and ‘90s, with a 40 to 50 percent rate.
However, through volunteerism and an overall vision, the village began to elect leaders that supported infrastructure and voted to expand the village’s wastewater treatment facility, eventually opening up Main Street to opportunity for growth.
Dialogue then opened with developers and vigorous pursuit of grant funding was made through the establishment of the Community Development Agency. Acquired grants were put to use and leveraged for more money.
The Village of Patchogue soon became an entertainment and dining destination with the creation of Alive After Five®, a number of Main Street restaurants and, ultimately, a new arts and cultural scene developed with the theatre and Artspace, as well as the creation of the Patchogue Arts Council.
Since 2001, according to the study, public subsidies brought in total over $60 million, $37 million in grants alone, which in turn created about $250 million in construction investments through private dollars with over 2,000 temporary jobs.
Patchogue’s revitalization between 2000-2017 created a reverberation of about $700 million throughout Suffolk County in economic output. During that time, a total of 54 new businesses were established and 42 stabilized, meaning they were in business for over a year and created about 400 jobs.
Also, a total of seven residential development projects were built with the capability of housing children, including Copper Beach and New Village, equaling about 714 dwelling units, or about 142 school-aged children. However, according to Poole, that number was overestimated and discussion with the school district has indicated it to be fewer.
Still, by examining the district’s budget, it is assumed that each added child cost about $4,000, with an average of about $3.5 million in total education service costs since 2006. According to tax levy data, about $6.6 million was generated by the developments during that same period of time, resulting in a surplus to the school district.
It was also examined how a potentially proposed 100-room Main Street hotel versus a 60-unit apartment complex would affect the village, both showing positive. A hotel, according to the study, would generate over $730,000, whereas an apartment building would generate about $470,000.
The real estate market value, according to Poole, has seen change, but data hasn’t been released yet beyond 2012. The study also showed that the village is operating above the town, county and state rates in number of employees since 2002 in both retail and food services.
“Congrats to the village and community. It’s so uplifting to quantify what we all felt for a while … there is something special going on here now. We knew we were the model, but the study cemented that officially this is the community to follow,” said Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce executive director David Kennedy. “For years we heard retail is struggling, but that is so much so throughout the nation and [it’s great to hear] we are outpacing the town, county and state in all percentages.”
The takeaway of the study, Poole explained, is that upfront public investment can leverage many times its value in private investment and that residential development shouldn’t be seen as a burden to the community.