Midway Crossing Project Would Offer ‘Train-to-Plane Connectivity,’ Developer Says

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Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter and Derek Trulson, JLL

Midway Crossing Project Would Offer ‘Train-to-Plane Connectivity,’ Developer Says

On Feb. 1, around 200 people gathered at Captain Bill’s Bayview House in Bay Shore for a meeting hosted by the Long Island Business Development Council. 

Derek Trulson, a vice chairman of the New York office of JLL (Jones Lang LaSalle), spoke about what he called a “transformative” project as members of various chambers of commerce, officials, and civic groups listened.

Trulson took them through a PowerPoint presentation for Midway Crossing, a proposed life sciences development that would be at the intersection of rail, road and aviation.

It’s being designed as a public-private development including the Long Island Rail Road Ronkonkoma station and Long Island MacArthur Airport on a 179-acre plot.

Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter was among those attending the meeting regarding the $2.8 billion project to include 2.7 million square feet of mixed-use development and what Trulson calls “train-to-plane connectivity.”

“We were able to have an integrated conversation,” he said. “There were more than one or two applauses. We talked about how the project could happen, why it needs to happen, and its importance.”

John Cameron, managing partner at Woodbury-based Cameron Engineering & Associates, Midway Crossing’s lead engineer, also spoke. Midway Crossing is reaching a crossroads as it advances and key elements are put in place.

“We’ve had a number of presentations,” Cameron said. “This was a big business meeting for rolling out where we are.”

The Town of Islip and Suffolk County last year designated JLL as the master developer and authorized creating a local development corporation.

“The LDC would serve as the vehicle for development of the project,” Cameron added. “It’s been voted to be created.”

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Midway Crossing project location

While JLL is based in Chicago, in the Northeast, it has a roughly $500 million business with about 1,200 employees in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, plus a Long Island office in Melville, Trulson said.

“JLL is worldwide. They’re headquartered in Chicago, but they have a major presence in the New York metro area,” Cameron said. “They’ve been able to bring national resources to move this along.”

In addition to New York operations, JLL has life sciences practices in Boston, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Trulson has worked on projects with companies such as Nordstrom, Business Insider, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, T-Mobile, and Healthfirst.

“We did a study on public sources out there,” Trulson said of funding. “This project qualifies for $350-plus million. That’s how many buttons we hit.”

A vision for a life sciences hub, Midway Crossing calls for building a north terminal at the airport to truly integrate airport and railroad, along with other infrastructure. 

“You need public infrastructure, the water lines, sewers, electric and some roadway improvement,” Cameron said.

The project is being billed as an “economic engine” that could create high-paying jobs and provide opportunities for graduates to work on Long Island. Catholic Health Services, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Stony Brook University, and the New York Institute of Technology all could have a presence.

“You have researchers, technicians, software engineers, clerical, administrative,” Cameron said.

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Midway Crossing project rendering

JLL back in 2018 through a request for proposals was named the master developer of the project by Suffolk County, where Cameron Engineering is the lead engineering firm. JLL and the county in 2018 signed a memorandum of agreement.

New York State has set aside about $500 million for a wide range of projects across the state. And Midway Crossing is angling for some of that.

 “We have an application into the Long Island Investment Fund asking for $150 million,” Trulson said.

If things go according to schedule this year or the next, environmental studies will be completed. Shovels could go in the ground by mid-2025.

Although numbers are easy to generate and difficult to realize, developers project $4.5 billion annual impact from the project, much of it from life sciences projects.

 “Life sciences is an ecosystem,” Trulson said.” A form of collaboration takes place.”

The development would include  healthcare delivery systems such as Northwell and Catholic Health Services, academic institutions such as  Stony Brook University, and research entities such as Brookhaven National and Cold Spring Harbor laboratories, along with medtech and biotech.

Trulson said that by using the booming life science market in nearby Boston, MassBio, in part led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), created one of the most important biotech and life science cultures in the world in the Boston area. 

JLL’s staff includes a former president and CEO of MassBio, who would help develop the ecosystem at Midway Crossing.

“The Mayo Clinic is about curing cancer. If you look at clusters that are successful, they all have a great academic institution, healthcare delivery and medtech, biotech,” Trulson said of what he said could become “Silicon Island.”

“It is a Silicon Valley. We would want to see that. Today’s Long Island life science market is too spread out for real daily and meaningful collaboration,” Trulson continued. “We think this becomes a hub for these institutions to be and work together. “

The developers say the airport can provide a crucial global link, while the train, including the new Grand Central Madison terminal, could provide links to New York City.

“We have over 100 train stations on long island. How many abut an airport?”  Cameron said. “One.”   

New York State and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey had proposed to spend $2.1 billion to connect the Long Island Rail Road and LaGuardia Airport, Trulson said.  This can be done, he added, at one-fifth the cost, with a new air terminal and direct connection to the LIRR.

“This is it: five minutes from three exits of the LIE, by car, train or plane —this is the best site. And what is it? It’s vacant parking lots.”

There has been progress, but at least for now, this is about a vision hoping to reach construction. Time will tell if this project truly transforms Long Island.

“All the balls are moving forward. We have great momentum with the public sector,” Trulson said. “This is a life changer for the future of Long Island. We’re not building a new airport or a new train. We’re connecting the two. This has such a potential for a major impact.”