John's Crazy Socks may pull up stakes in Melville for Wyandanch Rising foothold
Babylon is beginning the next phase in its Wyandanch redevelopment, which may include a nationally-known company.
LiRo Engineers Inc. in Syosset, signed by the town for a contract up to $1 million, has begun work on the second phase of the Wyandanch Rising redevelopment. The projected $500 million public-private effort started nearly two decades ago focuses on revitalizing the economically distressed hamlet.
Until now, the redevelopment has focused on the area north of the Long Island Rail Road station, where two apartment buildings have been constructed and a third is being built.
Phase II will be centered on the southeast quadrant from Long Island Avenue to Commonwealth Avenue.
The second phase is slated to include a “great lawn” between the avenues, about 90 townhomes, and four three- to five-story buildings: One building will have retail and office space on the first floor, and 100 apartments on the upper floors; two buildings will have 100 apartments each; and one building is tentatively slated for apartments and John’s Crazy Socks.
John’s Crazy Socks became a nationally recognized company after the late President George H.W. Bush became a fan of the company's inventive sock designs. He even wore a pair to his wife Barbara's funeral last year.
John’s, founded in 2016, is expected to post $4 million in sales this year and has outgrown its Melville location, said owner Mark Cronin, who runs the company with his son John, 23, who has Down syndrome. The company has 39 employees, 23 of whom have “different abilities,” Mark Cronin said.
"We're very inspired by him and what he has accomplished," said Russell Albanese, chairman of Albanese Organization Inc. of Garden City, the developer for Wyandanch Rising. Albanese said the company could help with economic development by bringing a daytime workforce to the area. The developer has struggled to find businesses willing to take a chance on the revitalization efforts in Wyandanch.
“Somebody’s got to be willing to stand up and say we can try to do something here, and we’d like to be part of it,” Cronin said.
The building in Wyandanch would hold the company’s warehouse, a retail store and incubator space for start-ups owned by people with disabilities or who work with them, Cronin said.
“We wanted to make an investment in a community that’s on the rise,” Cronin said. “We’re a startup, we like working with people who are on the rise, so we like to believe that’s true about Wyandanch.”
The building would also have apartments for those with disabilities.
The company is already a “destination location” Cronin said, with school tours and work groups from social service agencies. He said he sees the Wyandanch building as an opportunity to expand, with an art gallery and cafe.
While no contracts have been signed for the building, Cronin, Albanese and Town Deputy Supervisor Tony Martinez said discussions have been promising.
“Bringing in John’s Crazy Socks would be a real homerun for us,” Martinez said.