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OLD WESTBURY, NY-Major real estate projects are on the boards, promising job growth and tax breaks for beleaguered Long Island. But revitalization is going to take more than construction cranes, and at a meeting of the Long Island Real Estate Group here this morning, a representative of the Empire State Development Corp. talked about the issues on the edge of real estate–but central to the region’s economy–that are being addressed in Albany.

EDC’s downstate chairman Patrick Foye assaulted more than 100 local brokers, developers and funding experts with a laundry list of Long Island’s problems. These include flat population, income and job growth and a lagging island GDP. Quoting Gov. Eliot Spitzer, Foye said the island is in “a perfect storm of unaffordability.”

But Foye also brought the potential for good news, recapping Spitzer’s State of the State address and bringing home the goals stated therein to the assembled business crowd. High on the list of drivers of a comeback is education, and Foye reported that Albany has proposed a “$4-billion endowment” to the state university system, explaining that the funds would come from “a partial privatization of the state lottery.”

A $200-million downstate revitalization fund is also being created, along with “the availability” of some $300 million for housing. Foye noted that a specially formed property tax commission will be investigating the situation over the next few months with an eye toward recommending caps.

Of course, brick and mortar will play a key role in the advancement of the Long Island economy, and Foye mentioned the development of a few major projects that will add to the island’s fiscal soundness. These include the $2-billion mixed-use project being proposed by the Lighthouse Development Group in Nassau County; the $1.5-billion Riverhead Resorts proposal out east; and, indirectly, Moynihan Station.

While Moynihan Station has been recognized for the shot in the arm it will provide the West Side of Manhattan, its benefits to Long Islanders have been more quietly touted. At least, until this morning. When asked to clarify the connection, Foye praised the project for its potential to reduce street traffic on the island as well as the increased ease of commute both for westbound riders and for the growing number of reverse commuters. He concluded by saying these benefits would have a direct impact on property values.

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