With a new year upon us signifying newness and change, we can’t help but direct our attention to revitalization efforts taking place here on Long Island. In recent years, there have been many downtown revamp projects – Huntington and Patchogue are two great examples of successful revitalization projects on Long Island. In this article we will examine the new and ongoing downtown revitalization efforts in Riverhead.
Located in Eastern Long Island, Suffolk County, downtown Riverhead is being rediscovered as a family-friendly place to live, work and play. A bustling destination filled with classic mom-and-pop shops, Riverhead was once called the “Capital” of the East End. Riverhead Town Supervisor, Sean Walter, instated the “block-by-block approach” to fixing up the suffering downtown. Downtown revitalization efforts began about four years ago and are well underway – but it is now that we are truly beginning to see the effects of the town revamp.
The “new Riverhead” is truly forming its identity comprised of smaller shops, restaurants, bars, residential apartments, hotels, and the Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center. Some of the newer developments on Main Street include: Blue Duck Bakery Cafe, Ralph’s Famous Italian Ices & Ice Cream, Twin Forks Bicycles, Goldberg’s Famous Bagels, Maximus Health & Fitness, and TheRiverheadProject, which is an upscale restaurant hosted in a renovated bank building.
In addition to these downtown efforts, the redevelopment of a 12,000 square foot commercial building located on Main Street is being transformed into a flex space of modern furnished offices for local professionals. The hope is that this new space will attract local lawyers, accountants, entrepreneurs, tech specialists, and other small business owners who now work at home but seek office space in Riverhead for short or long term leases. This office space is unique for downtown Riverhead and will generate the excitement of new businesses to the newly revamped area which strongly lacked this sort of opportunity prior to this development.
Also new to downtown Riverhead is the ParaBell Food Bar. The owners had successfully opened their first location in downtown Patchogue so they are no stranger to a downtown revitalization situation. When planning to open their second location the owners stated the they were excited to be “part of another downtown on the rebound.” Moustache Brewing Co. is yet another business opening their doors in downtown Riverhead. The microbrewery owners were attracted to Riverhead’s relaxed construction requirements and a burgeoning craft-beer scene. Both of these business pointing to a growing, exciting and lively Riverhead.
Another key to a successful revamp of a Long Island downtown is affordable housing, and Riverhead has plans for exactly that. The project, called Peconic Crossing, is a development plan for a five-story apartment building intended to be affordable apartments specifically geared for the local artist community of Riverhead. The building will contain 48 affordable rental units and prospect tenants would have to meet income guidelines and be able to document their ties to an art. Because of the new, lively establishments and growing business district, downtown Riverhead will likely become very attractive to local artists in the near future.
It is also important to mention that downtown Riverhead’s surrounding community is currently greatly thriving with the continuous developments of the Tanger Outlet Center, Bed Bath & Beyond, Michaels, Lowe’s, Target, Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Joe’s Crab Shack, Panera Bread, Moe’s Southwestern, Costco, TGI Fridays, and many more establishments. With these existing and new businesses, the local job market is certainly blossoming and expanding in a very positive way. This, of course, will greatly impact downtown Riverhead, creating a bustling and busy atmosphere. We predict that 2015 will be a strong year for Riverhead with many new and exciting opportunities to revitalize yet another Long Island downtown.