After years of planning, shovels finally hit the dirt at the Francis S. Gabreski Airport during a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Hamptons Business and Technology Park April 29.
“It’s been decades in the making to get to this point,” says Gregg Rechler, managing partner of Rechler Equity, the firm developing the site. Rechler Equity Partners LLC was founded more than 55 years ago, and is the largest owner of commercial real estate on Long Island.
“It just took a really long time for the county and the town and the community to get together,” Rechler says. “In 2006, a group of community leaders, town officials and county officials got together to come up with a plan that works for the property, and that everyone wants to see happen.” The town and community officials created an Airport Planned Development District, or APDD, and selected Rechler as the developer in 2009. “We negotiated a lease with the county, which became an 80-year ground lease, and today we’re breaking ground on the first of nine buildings.”
Francis S. Gabreski Airport was opened as the Suffolk County Army Air Field in 1943, and became the Suffolk County Air Force Base in 1951, supporting many of the military functions, including the Suffolk County Missile Program. “It served as the sister air force base of Mitchel Field, which our family had the privilege of developing in the 1980s,” Rechler says. In 1969, the property was deeded from the federal government to the county and was meant to be run as a civilian air force base, with the idea of integrating economic growth and development into the community. Gabreski Airport remains the home to the Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing.
The Hamptons Business Park will encompass 55 acres of the airport and include offices, industrial space, a showroom, flexible research and development space, medical offices, and a 145-room hotel. The park will be arranged in a state-of-the-art, campus-like layout, which will cater to each business’s needs, from an onsite daycare and gym to a restaurant and bank.
“The first building will be up and running probably by January of next year, and we think it’s going to move rather quickly,” Rechler says. “We’ll probably start the second and third buildings within the next couple months, which are going to be office buildings.” Rechler anticipates the project will be completed within the next few years. “We’ve actually sent out our first lease last week, so we’re very excited,” he says.
A key aspect of the project is its ability to boost employment and sustain growth on the East End. “The construction of 440,000 square feet will bring a lot of jobs immediately,” Rechler says. “On a long-term basis, it’s going to really bring good, permanent jobs.” Rechler expects the Hamptons Business District will create as many as 1,100 long-term jobs. “It’s big and it’s great for economic development on the East End.”