No cost for Riverside master developer?

12/15/2013 10:00 AM |

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | A boarded-up house on Flanders Road in Riverside, just east of the traffic circle.

The developers selected to be the “master developer” for Riverside says it won’t cost Southampton Town anything to have the company serve in that role.

“Renaissance Downtowns is a for-profit real estate developer. We spend our own money and incur our own risk,” said Sean McLean, the company’s vice president of planning development, at a presentation to the Southampton Town Board last Thursday.

“At no point do we expect the town to be paying for any of this,” he said. “We don’t receive a fee. We make money by potentially developing real estate in the future, if this process is successful and we move forward.”

Mr. McLean, a Flanders resident, and Renaissance Downtowns CEO Donald Monti addressed the Town Board after the company had been selected as master developer Nov. 26. Renaissance Downtowns was one of three companies that had answered a “request for qualifications” the Town Board issued earlier this year.

Renaissance Downtowns is currently involved in large-scale redevelopment projects in Huntington Station, Hempstead and the Nassau County “hub” area near the Nassau Coliseum. It doesn’t own any property in Riverside.

Mr. Monti and Mr. McLean said they try to encourage private property owners to partner with them in redevelopment projects, and they try to group together smaller, hard-to-develop properties into larger properties that will have more development potential. The company offers development experience and finances that smaller property owners might not have, they said.

“We don’t ask for eminent domain, we don’t take over people’s property and we don’t engage in a counter-intuitive bidding war against property owners,” Mr. McLean said.

“We show them how a $50,000 building could be worth millions, if they want us,” he said.

Private property owners can either sell their property to Renaissance Downtowns, partner with them or not be involved at all, Mr. Monti said. Private property owners are free to decline parterning with the company, Mr. McLean said. The town will still maintain control over the master developer process, he said.

Since they have been selected as the master developer for the Riverside redevelopment project, four area property owners have already contacted them, he said. The company will also try to lure grant money to the area to cover costs of infrastructure improvements, he said.

Renaissance Downtown plans to seek community feedback, through public meetings and social networking, on the type of development residents would like to see in their community.

Renaissance Downtowns plans to set up an office in Riverside, officials said.

Councilwoman Bridget Fleming expressed concern that certain property owners would be displaced through the redevelopment process.

Mr. Monti said his group tries to ensure that local people get jobs and that the town maintains control over the process, “so the community builds itself up from within. If a retail use has been there for 30 years, we will make sure that if they want to remain, they will. It could be in a different storefront, but our approach is non-confrontational.”

Seven new businesses were created at a Renaissance Downtowns project in Bristol, Conn., Mr. McLean said.

The next step in the process will be for the town to come up with a formal master developer contract with the company, Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said.

“It’s a community that wants this to happen,” she said. “And the state is looking for these types of projects to happen, too, so the timing is advantageous.”

tgannon@timesreview.com