Tritec Real Estate’s Bob Coughlan Reimagines Downtowns on Long Island

downtowns on long island
Bob Coughlan is a leader in mixed-use development on LI.

We talked with Bob Coughlan, a principal at Tritec Real Estate Co., based in Setauket, about how the company he and his brother Jim founded 35 years ago is developing projects in Long Island’s downtowns and elsewhere.

Tell me how and why the company is rebranding. It’s to reflect what we’ve been doing as an organization for over 15 years and focusing on developing multifamily and mixed-use projects in downtown, walkable communities where we can help revitalize the community.

Can you give one example of a project you’ve done? New Village in Patchogue is one of the early if not first downtown revitalizations efforts on Long Island. We successfully built 291 residential units, 45,000 square feet of retail, and 17,000 square feet of office space.

How do you develop multiuse, since it has so many elements? It does, but it reflects the character and fabric of the areas we’re developing. Over the last decades, Long Island, being the first suburb, broke down uses into a Euclidean planning process. They separated office and industrial space. Retail was in another area. If you go back in time, communities were built up with a mix of various uses within walking distance of each other. People live, work, play within a radius they could walk to.

Can you tell me projects you’re involved with as we speak, or upcoming? We have a number of them. Lindenhurst. The Wel with just one L. We’re in the process of finishing a residential multifamily apartment project with 260 residential units that will be about two city blocks from Wellwood Avenue. It opens in early April.

How is demand for that project? Over 1,000 people expressed an interest in renting space prior to our opening in April. A good number of people will sign leases at some point in April or May. That project and the other projects we’re focused on are catalysts for economic development. Since we started construction, over 17 new restaurants signed leases on Wellwood Avenue in Lindenhurst.

What’s the status of your Ronkonkoma development? We recently completed Alston Station Square at Ronkonkoma Train Station, a 489-unit multifamily residential rental project. It’s proximate to the train station, but it’s part of a larger project, 53 acres at the Ronkonkoma Train Station. Our leasing has been going extremely well throughout Covid. Over 320 of those units have been leased. We’re starting construction in a couple of weeks in Ronkonkoma on our second phase, the core of our downtown at the train station. We’re building 388 residential units and 73,000 square feet of retail space and 15,000 square feet of office space. That will be the hub of that community.

Any breaking news with big projects to come? We’re under contract to buy Touro College’s Bay Shore campus. We’re looking to break ground in June on 418 residential units across from the train station one block from Main Street. It’s walkable from the ferries going to Fire Island, to South Shore Hospital.

How many construction jobs are these projects creating? The Ronkonkoma project overall will be over 10,000 construction jobs. Bay Shore is 900 jobs. The Wel is about 600 jobs. They are tremendous job generators and great places for people to live.

Did you shut down or were you impacted by the pandemic? During the early part of the pandemic, like everybody else, we were closed down for a couple of months before our construction teams could go back on-site. Like many others, we had to figure out what health and safety protocols to put in place. When we were allowed to go back to work, our jobs opened up. We lost some time, but were able to make up time on those projects. Many of our office workers are still working remotely from home.

Why and what are you doing in Northern Virginia? My brother Dan runs our Washington, D.C. operation. He is developing a large mixed-use project in Northern Virginia with multifamily rentals, condominiums, townhouses, retail, museums, a data center, and a school with soccer fields. We expanded to that area. It’s also one of the better real estate markets in the country.

How are your projects being impacted by people getting vaccinated? I’m not sure yet how that’s going to play out. During Covid, we had a significant number of people moving out of New York City, renting space in our projects. People moving out of the city not only rented space in our projects, they bought homes. The sellers also rented apartments in our projects.

What do you see happening next? I see more of the same. Before the pandemic, there was a tremendous need for multifamily housing on Long Island. The pandemic has heightened that need. We’re continuing to receive tremendous demand for multifamily, particularly within walkable communities near mass transportation.

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