The Village of Patchogue, NY, is transforming its downtown into a cultural and entertainment destination on Long Island’s South Shore, a shift supported by its growing residential population.
Patchogue is located about 55 miles east of Manhattan on the Great South Bay. The Village has a Long Island Rail Road station downtown. Patchogue has approximately 12,000 residents, and almost two-thirds of the population lives close to the downtown area.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, Patchogue was a mill town, fishing village, and shipping center. With the arrival of the Long Island Rail Road in 1869, Patchogue became a significant tourist destination with several large hotels, and soon after, a business center. Like many other downtowns on Long Island, Patchogue’s decline began in the wake of growing automobile use and development of large shopping malls and retail outlets in surrounding areas. This trend continued through the 1990s, with high storefront vacancy rates through the end of the decade.
In 1998, a turnaround began to take shape when the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts—which had originally opened in 1923 but subsequently closed—was reopened. The Village Board purchased the theater and gave it a multi-million dollar facelift, breathing fresh cultural life into the downtown. The success of the theater has created a growing restaurant industry, including a microbrewery.
Aware of the importance of maintaining a young, professional population and the boost that new residents bring to downtown, the leadership of the Village of Patchogue has spent the past several years cultivating affordable housing opportunities. In collaboration with Suffolk County, the Long Island Housing Partnership, and real estate developers, Patchogue has transformed five acres of underutilized parking lots—contiguous to downtown and just blocks from the rail station—into Copper Beech Village, a mixed-income townhouse development. The Village has collaborated with Artspace, a developer of live-work space for artists, to create housing options for artists and their families downtown. New Village at Patchogue is a mixed-use project under construction at a main intersection in downtown Patchogue, on the former Swezey’s department store site. New Village includes apartments, shops, offices, and civic space.
Recently constructed townhouses and apartments are attracting young homebuyers seeking the lifestyle afforded by a cultural center. New housing also means new patrons for the local economy, further fueling the Village of Patchogue’s revival.