Riverhead was the recipient of a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative Award given by New York State. The award includes the preparation of a Strategic Investment Plan which helped to identify catalytic projects to enhance downtown with improved streetscapes and public spaces, expanded arts and cultural activities, and new housing and business opportunities. Riverhead's DRI awards will knit existing and new investments together to create a safe, pedestrian-friendly community with better connectivity within the downtown area and between the downtown and the riverfront. Specific projects identified for funding can be found on the State’s website.
The Downtown Riverhead Pattern Book is intended to provide direction for policies and projects proposed within the Main Street (DC-1) Zoning Use District. The principal goal is to preserve the unique character of Riverhead while also accommodating redevelopment projects of varying scales. The document includes design parameters borne out of the outreach process, which address the proper siting and massing of buildings, the enhancement of the public realm, and the issues of resiliency and adaptability in terms of public policy.
The Peconic Estuary Partnership (PEP)’s 2020 Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) is a strategic framework for protecting and restoring the Peconic Estuary of eastern Long Island. The 250-square-mile estuary comprises Great Peconic Bay, Little Peconic Bay, Gardiners Bay, and a hundred other bays, harbors, and tributaries. Altogether, the estuary’s shoreline totals more than 450 miles. The Peconic Estuary watershed includes the Towns of Brookhaven, East Hampton, Southampton, Riverhead, Southold, and Shelter Island.
The train station parking lot and neighboring block to the east were identified as areas for redevelopment that would act as catalysts for investment in the surrounding area. The municipally-owned parking lot in particular represents an opportunity for the Town to partner with a Master Developer in the redevelopment of the property—and possibly nearby properties. The TOD Plan included a review of the existing zoning code and recommendations for amendments to encourage redevelopment and support redevelopment of the parking lot as well as to prepare materials for a Request for Expression of Interest from the development community. Subsequently, the Town adopted a new TOD Overlay District for the Railroad Avenue URA. The intent is to allow for TOD development, a pedestrian-friendly streetscape, active ground-floor uses, public spaces, and a 24-hour presence from upper-story residential at a scale similar to that allowed in the DC-1 Zoning Use District. By permitting a higher-intensity mix of uses, the Town seeks to activate this area of the Downtown (within the DC-3 Zoning Use District) that has not experienced significant investment. The ordinance allows for additional density (e.g., through parking reductions, TDR credit, increased gross floor area, or increased height) with the provision of community benefits for properties over one acre. The Town issued the Railroad Street TOD Redevelopment RFQ in March 2021.
Since development has increased in the Downtown area, there has been an increase in the number of vehicles on a regular basis. The Town of Riverhead retained Sam Schwartz Consulting, LLC (Sam Schwartz) to complete a parking plan for the Downtown area to determine parking behavior patterns; identify major concerns raised by visitors, residents, and business owners; project long-term parking demand; and develop short- and long-term solutions to address these issues.
This Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) Nomination Study, which included the Downtown area, addressed community goals and opportunities for brownfield redevelopment. Goals of the study were to overcome several obstacles preventing redevelopment/revitalization; to identify key strategic/ areas where redevelopment/preservation will act as catalysts for the revitalization of the area as a whole; and to address numerous abandoned properties as well as underutilized sites that have not achieved their highest potential. The Town aims to promote its appeal as a cultural, historic, and entertainment destination along the riverfront and its surrounding wine/agritourism industry.
This plan followed up on recommendations within the Town's 2003 Comprehensive Plan which contained planning goals and policies for the Route 25A corridor in Wading River. As a response to the development pressure, the Town of Riverhead began a planning and zoning study in 2011 to identify the remaining vacant parcels and resolve issues threatening farmland and open space preservation. The primary goal of the proposed zoning is to restrict growth to the hamlet’s existing commercial district. The study area consists of the Route 25A corridor in Wading River from the Brookhaven Town Line on the west to North Country Road on the east.
The 2003 Comprehensive Plan established a long-term framework for the Town and provided the basis for subsequent rezoning actions. The plan emphasizes on the revitalization of the downtown area as a critical focus in the overall improvement of the Town. The Downtown was to be primarily developed as an entertainment, tourism, and cultural center.