Try walking along Front Street in Stapleton.
It’s not easy. The sidewalks that do exist are crumbling and many sections along the busy strip don’t even have them, forcing pedestrians into the street.
“It needs work,” says Tom McKnighty with the New York State Economic Development Council. “It does not have sidewalks, it does not have trees, it does not have lighting.”
Now, as part of the redevelopment of the Staten Island Homeport, that’s about to change.
Front Street borders the long-abandoned 36-acre site, once the home of the U.S. Navy. As part of an aggressive redevelopment plan for the long-abandoned site, infrastructure improvements have finally begun.
For the next several months, crews will be working underground on sewers and water mains. Next year, they will repave streets, add lights and plant trees.
“It’ll make a place that’s more pedestrian-friendly, it’ll be a better place for drivers and it’ll help establish a place for the new development,” McKnighty says.
The city’s Economic Development Corporation has teamed up with Ironstate Development to build 900 units of housing in phases, including 35,000 square feet of retail space and improved waterfront access.
By the end of the year, the city says it expects to begin work on the waterfront esplanade, a roughly three-acre site officials say will eventually look a little something like the recently redeveloped East River Park on Manhattan’s lower east side:
“It’s gonna be planted areas, it’s gonna be seating, it’s gonna be a walking path,” McKnighty says. “There’s gonna be opportunity for active recreation. It’s gonna be a waterfront park.”
Ironstate will begin construction of the first 450 units of housing later this year. In the meantime, the developer is already talking to potential tenants, both island-based businesses and national chains, about the retail space.
“They’re very excited about the waterfront location and about the esplanade and how it will all come together,” says Michael Darata of Ironstate Development.
While Ironstate says it hasn’t signed any tenants yet, it says it expects to very soon.