2012 0904 main street historic
File photo: Peter Blasl

Downtown Riverhead and the Enterprise Park at Calverton are among the locations recommended by New York State for designation as “opportunity zones” by the U.S. treasury department.

The opportunity zone community development program, offered through the Tax Cuts and Job Acts of 2017, encourages private investment in low-income urban and rural communities.

Designation as an opportunity zone will allow the community access to Opportunity Funds revenue. Opportunity Funds provide investors the chance to put their money to work rebuilding low- to moderate-income communities. Investors will be able to pool their resources in opportunity zones, increasing the scale of investments going to underserved areas, according to Empire State Development, the state’s economic development agency.

“How exciting — that’s great news,” Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said today when told of the inclusion of the two census tracts in Riverhead town that encompass downtown Riverhead and EPCAL. The town board had adopted a resolution asking the governor to designate the two tracts.

“It’s going to help revitalize downtown and help move EPCAL along. I’m really glad we were selected,” Jens-Smith said.

Each governor can nominate up to 25 percent of the total eligible census tracts in the state to be designated opportunity zones. New York State has recommended 514 census tracts for designation as opportunity zones based on analyses done by Empire State Development, New York State Homes and Community Renewal, New York State Department of State and the state’s Regional Economic Development Councils. The list of recommended census tracts was published on the Empire State Development website.

The census tract immediately south of downtown Riverhead that includes Riverside in the Town of Southampton was not on the state’s list of recommendations for opportunity zone designation.

“It’s incredibly disappointing, obviously,” Southampton Town Councilwoman Christine Scalera said. “We try to tap into all kinds of funding sources.” she said.

“But it’s not going to deter us from exploring other opportunities. We will continue to push ahead. I truly believe we have everything they would be looking for.”

The Southampton Town Board on March 15 approved a memorializing resolution asking the governor to name the Riverside/Flanders census tract an opportunity zone.

Southampton has already approved the Riverside Revitalization Action Plan, which includes the potential for 3.1 million square feet of mixed-uses including 2,262 workforce housing residential units.”

We need your help.
Now more than ever, the survival of quality local journalism depends on your support. Our community faces unprecedented economic disruption, and the future of many small businesses are under threat, including our own. It takes time and resources to provide this service. We are a small family-owned operation, and we will do everything in our power to keep it going. But today more than ever before, we will depend on your support to continue. Support RiverheadLOCAL today. You rely on us to stay informed and we depend on you to make our work possible.

Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.