Living In: Freeport, N.Y.: A Waterfront Community Rebuilds

Living In: Freeport, N.Y.: A Waterfront Community Rebuilds

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When Al Grover, 89, moved to Freeport 80 years ago, commercial fisherman and baymen — “people who made a living off the water” — lived near the canals that slice into the southern edge of this incorporated village on the south shore of Nassau County on Long Island.

“The waterfront, in those days, was not a rich man’s playground,” he said. “Now it is a place to have a big home and a boat.”

After four feet of water flooded his 1920s bayfront home during Hurricane Sandy four years ago, Mr. Grover, a retired boatbuilder, raised it 13 feet. “There are 20 homes in my area being lifted,” he said. “Going forward, there are very few derelict houses.”

The village, he said, “is recovering.”

Freeport is indeed making a comeback. Below Atlantic Avenue, on the southern side of town, nearly every block has homes in various stages of the elevation process, mitigating the chance of future flooding. Around 3,500 homes were ravaged in the storm. Some were razed or abandoned; about 435 still need repair, said Mayor Robert Kennedy.

The village “is definitely rebuilding,” Mayor Kennedy said. He added that Freeport had received a state grant of nearly $800,000 to install catch basins and pumps to prevent flooding in the future.

In warm weather, especially on weekends, the rebuilt seafood restaurants and bars with waterfront seating in the stretch of Woodcleft Avenue known as the Nautical Mile teem with tourists. Party and fishing boats head down the Woodcleft Canal toward the Great South Bay.

The waterfront has “changed for the better,” said Jason Holin, 40, the owner of Jeremy’s Ale House, a waterfront bar and restaurant on Woodcleft Avenue, where locals gather to watch football on Sunday afternoons. “There is a lot of work going on.”

49 LESTER AVENUE A three-bedroom two-and-a-half-bath 2016 house on a canal, listed at $519,000. (516) 599-5070

Credit
Kathy Kmonicek for The New York Times

Peter Rubin, a 73-year-old lawyer who moved to Freeport in 2015 with his wife, Sandy, said the village was undergoing “a metamorphosis.”

“There is a lot of gentrification going on,” he said, including nicer homes and new shops on Atlantic Avenue.

The Rubins, who previously lived in Rockville Centre, sold their house there for more than $1 million and bought a $750,000 townhouse on Hudson Canal in Ocean Watch, a 61-unit homeowners association development with boat slips.

They enjoy watching boats motoring back and forth, and strolling on the Nautical Mile, Mr. Rubin said: “We have water views north, west, and south, and can see the Atlantic Ocean with binoculars.”

What You’ll Find

Freeport, part of the Town of Hempstead, is bounded by Roosevelt to the north, the Great South Bay to the south and Baldwin to the west. Across the Meadowbrook State Parkway to the east is Merrick.

The village’s 43,000 residents are a diverse group; according to Mayor Kennedy, 36 percent of the population is Hispanic and 30 percent is African-American.

Homes include Victorians, split-levels, high ranches and bungalows. South of Atlantic Avenue, pleasure and fishing boats are mooredat backyard piers along three main canals, Randall Bay, Hudson and Woodcleft, as well as numerous smaller finger canals. Farther north, tall trees shade curving streets with sidewalks and roomy colonials.




Freeport

Recreational

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Co-ops and condominiums make up about 30 percent of the housing, said Donna O’Reilly-Einemann, an associate broker at Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty.

What You’ll Pay

The housing market in Freeport offers “bang for your buck,” said Carol Sparaco, the broker-owner of Sparaco-Lieberman Realty. “There are a lot of affordable houses in the $300,000 to $400,000 price range, and they move very quickly.”

As of Oct. 10, there were 153 houses on the market, with a median list price of $344,500, said Joseph Scavo, an associate broker with Douglas Elliman Real Estate, who used Multiple Listing Service of Long Island data. Sales prices are up nearly 8 percent through Oct. 10, over a year earlier, with a median price of $330,000.

There were 55 co-ops and 22 condos on the market on Oct. 10, said Ms.O’Reilly-Einemann of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s. Co-op listings ranged from $50,000 to $300,000; condos and properties in homeowners associations were $165,000 to $875,000.

A handful of rental buildings offer one-bedrooms from around $1,400 to $1,600 a month; two-bedrooms fetch around $2,000 to $2,200 a month.

The Vibe

The Freeport Water Taxi glides through the Woodcleft Canal. A steel-drum band plays during weekend happy hour and sunset cruises in the summer and early fall. Passengers request to get dropped off after the hour-plus Great South Bay tour at restaurants and bars like Rachel’s Waterside Grill,Tropix, Hudson’s and Bracco’s along the Nautical Mile, a popular Long Island hangout. A noise ordinance stops music on the strip at 11 p.m., but the partying sometimes continues — quietly — as DJs stream music to dancers’ earphones.

Half-day fishing trips on the Capt. Lou VII and Starstream VIII continue until December. A Halloween Dinner Cruise costume party is planned for Oct. 29 on the Sapphire Princess, a luxury yacht and party boat that docks at Sea Breeze Park.

55 PROSPECT STREET A five-bedroom four-bath 1934 bay-front house with a deck and a bulkhead, listed at $779,000. (516) 378-2525

Credit
Kathy Kmonicek for The New York Times

Ice hockey leagues and skating lessons are popular at the Freeport Recreation Center. The complex has a fitness center, a gym, an indoor pool, an outdoor Olympic pool, a diving tank and a children’s pool.

The Schools

Freeport Public Schools serve 7,150 students in prekindergarten through Grade 12. Elementary school students choose from four magnet schools.

At the New Visions School of Discovery and Exploration, which has 514 students in kindergarten through Grade 4, 33 percent of students who participated in 2016 state exams met standards in English language arts, versus 38 percent statewide. In math, 51 percent met standards, versus 39 percent.

For Leo F. Giblyn School, which has 660 studentsin kindergarten through Grade 4, 30 percent of students who participated met standards in English language arts; 31 percent met standards in math.

The average SAT scores for 2015-2016 at Freeport High School were 445 in reading, 438 in math and 434 in writing, compared with New York State scores of 489, 501 and 477.

The Commute

The drive of about 33 miles from Freeport to Midtown Manhattan typically takes about 50 minutes or more, depending on traffic.

The 6:57 a.m. train from the Freeport station on the Long Island Rail Road pulls into Penn Station 43 minutes later. A monthly pass is $287.

The History

In the late 19th century, commercial oystering prospered. During Prohibition, Freeport was a major center for liquor smuggling because of its proximity to offshore rum-running vessels, said Nancy Solomon, a folklorist and executive director of Long Island Traditions, a heritage preservation organization.

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