BRENTWOOD, Long Island (WABC) -- Eyewitness News got an exclusive tour Wednesday of what could be, when it's complete, one of the nation's largest planned communities.
Developer Jerry Wolkoff gave Eyewitness News reporter Kristin Thorne a one-on-one tour of what he envisions for 450 acres of land he owns in Brentwood around the Pilgrim State Psychiatric Center. Wolkoff's Heartland Town Square will include 9,000 apartments, restaurants, a movie theater, corporate offices, retail stores, artist studios, entertainment venues and more.
"I think it's desperately needed because we're losing our young people. And when you speak to the empty nesters they don't need their three or four-bedroom house anymore," Wolkoff said.
In November, the Brentwood School District and a local civic group sued Wolkoff and the town of Islip. The two plaintiffs said Wolkoff and the town had not fully investigated the effect the project would have on the community. Their concerns include environmental impact, traffic congestion, overburdening of municipal services and the potential for overcrowding in Brentwood schools. The town board approved the first phase of the project last July.
"The town of Islip and the developer have failed to include the concerns from the school district regarding the overcrowding that will result from this as well as the concerns from the surrounding homeowners with the traffic," said the school district's attorney Candace Gomez.
Wolkoff said the project will bring in $35 million annually to the school district and will create 20,000 jobs. The school district said because of the tax camp the $35 million figure is not accurate.
Wolkoff, meanwhile, disputes the 7,500 student figure the school district has quoted as additional students which will flood the Brentwood schools. Wolkoff said the number is closer to 2,100.
"Ninety percent of this is rentals. So the young people they come, they get married, they have a child by the time the other child is ready for school four or five years old, there's another one, so they move out and they buy a house.
Wolkoff said he plans to break ground in the next two years and said it could take up to 30 years to complete the project.
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EXCLUSIVE: Developer gives tour of large planned community on Long Island