Q&A With Developer Anthony Bartone
Anthony Bartone has ambitious plans for Farmingdale.
He is a third-generation Farmingdale resident, a graduate of Farmingdale High School where he played football and baseball, as well as travel soccer on a town team.
Bartone graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy Prep School, studied as a cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy, and holds a Bachelor of Science in Business, Management, and Economics.
His projects, including an 85-room hotel at the corner of Secatogue Avenue and South Front Street, and Bartone Plaza, which is a mix of retail and apartment space, have progressed through various stages of approvals and development.
Farmingdale Patch asked Bartone several questions about his projects.
Q. What is the status of the hotel and the plaza projects?
A. The hotel has been approved, and the application on the mixed use “plaza” portion of the project is under consideration by the Village Board as we speak. The strategy as far as timing goes is to obtain approvals for the mixed use and start construction late in the Summer. The hotel, although approved first, will be Phase II of the project.
Q. Do you see this projects as transformational for Farmingdale, and if so, in what way?
A. I absolutely believe this is a transformational project for the Village. Firstly, we need to capitalize on our train station. The train station is disconnected from our Main Street and the blighted warehouse building that exists on the site is not welcoming or aesthetically appealing. This project will accomplish the reconnection while providing a well lit, vibrant new development to attract people back to Farmingdale. The Farmingdale train station is a main hub seeing over 4,000 commuters each day on average and over 14 million traveling on the Ronkonkoma line each year (per statistics by the LIRR). Further, this project provides a housing option youthful professionals.
Farmingdale, much like all of Long Island, has seen a massive decline in our youthful (25 to 35 year old) population. This is the primary target audience for our residential units with a focus on those who commute via train. The spirit of the project as a whole, both the hotel and mixed use, is to return downtown Farmingdale to vibrancy by redeveloping blighted/underutilized properties and promoting walk-ability.
The hotel was specifically designed without a restaurant or bar to encourage guests to come, then go to shop and dine along Main Street. The hotel will be flagged by Hilton and will be served by their central reservation system. In addition to all of the foregoing, we are creating much needed jobs and broadening the tax base. Revitalization is infectious and Farmingdale has all of the ingredients it needs to be a vibrant destination. We have our Main Street, train station, a college, an airport, less than one hour to Manhattan, and easy access to all major roadways. Strategic redevelopment will breathe new life back into the Village and this along with other projects being contemplated in the Village will facilitate that.
Q. What other local companies or professionals are you working with?
A. We have partnered with another Long Island based developer to build this project under our new entity BWC Realty Partners LLC. All of our designers and consulting professionals are Long Island-based. Our zoning attorney, Anthony Addeo, is a lifelong Farmingdale resident and Farmingdale High School grad. Once construction starts you will have 118 workers at the Farmingdale site looking to eat, shop, buy gas, etcetera in the Village. These are the secondary economic benefits of a project such as this that are difficult to quantify.
Q.What, roughly, are you investing in Farmingdale?
A. EVERYTHING! We have been working on securing approvals for this project for over five years and the economic strain of maintaining a project such as this for that period of time coupled with the fiscal state of the country have created a tremendous burden. We hope the residents of the Village appreciate the benefit of having a small, local developer working personally with the Village board to insure a successful landmark project. I have to admit that the financial strains of this project over the last five years have been tremendous and have taxed me, our partners, and my family. But, as stated, we are steadfast in the pledge that we made to this project and our investors. We have seen experts from all over the country looking at this project in one capacity or another, from Hilton representatives to capital groups to funds, et cetera. The resounding message from all has been overwhelming enthusiasm and support for this Transit Oriented Development.
Q. What do you see as the biggest land development issue in Farmingdale or the region?
A. Time and red tape! Try to imagine, if you can, carrying sites such as ours for numerous years. Think of the property tax burdens alone. This is why you see many national developers hesitate to come to Long Island.
Q. Going forward, what kind of housing and or retail does Farmingdale need?
A. Farmingdale needs housing for our youthful professionals. As far as retail while we are targeting a specific type of retailer given our proximity to the train (banks, coffee shops, frozen yogurt shops, and the like) Farmingdale as a whole would be well served by a more broad retail base for shoppers. The loss of Waldbaums hurt, but with that loss comes opportunity. I heard at the last public hearing that Deputy Mayor Christensen and Trustee Parisi are actively working on securing a farmers market in the Village. That is right on point with what would bolster the retail uses in Farmingdale. Hopefully that concept can be expanded on to include a smaller market style grocer. We will not, nor do we want to compete with the mega stores, but smaller, specialized retailers would be a tremendous benefit to the village. I am very anxious to see a Taste of Long Island open up as their business plan sounds like it will be a draw for the Village.
Q. What are some of your other projects around Long Island or elsewhere?
A. We have done numerous projects around Long Island. A recent Farmingdale Village development we built was Lenox Hills Estates which consisted of residential single family homes that were built and sold in 2005/2006.
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