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The center of Wyandanch, New York is a sea of parking fronting a fading commercial strip in the middle of an economically distressed community. That scene is about to change. This area will soon be Long Island’s first major transit-oriented neighborhood— opening in 2015.
Already, 177 housing units above shops are built or under construction next to a public square by Wyandanch’s commuter rail station. “People were skeptical at first that this would ever happen, but every day something different and beautiful is happening there,” Kimberly Jean-Pierre, Director of Wyandanch Community Resource Center, told The New York Times. “This is going to be a major improvement in our quality of life.”
“The fact that Wyandanch, with all of its problems, is the first place on Long Island where you’re going to have a major transit-oriented development is amazing,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Ballone told The Wall Street Journal.
The public sector is investing big in Wyandanch, including water and sewer lines, Complete Streets, structured parking for commuters, health and youth centers, new parks and playing fields, and greenways that connect to a regional open space system. That investment is leveraging $500 million in private investment that will bring more than a thousand new housing units and 189,000 square feet of commercial space—much of which is already under construction.
Meanwhile, three new neighborhood centers—brilliantly embedded into the urban fabric—will remake a mile and a half of a commercial strip corridor called the Straight Path. The new development is expected to transform the community of 10,000 and create a model for connecting land use to transit on Long Island.
This kind of powerful and useful public space is needed all over suburban Long Island, a sprawling area of more than 2.8 million people. Shops, residences, and civic and social service buildings will surround a public plaza. Featuring fountains, ice skating in winter, and space for festivals and cultural events, the plaza will form the heart of downtown—a place where Wyandanch will live, work, and play.
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By any measure, San Francisco ranks among the world’s most beautiful cities. Yet for years, in a sector that tourists never see, 50 barracks-style buildings constructed in 1943 housed 264 families in poverty and fear.
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