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Top Stories 2017: Luminati looking to buy EPCAL land

12/23/2017 6:00 AM |

As 2017 came to an end, a split Riverhead Town Board voted to hold a “qualified and eligible sponsor” hearing on Luminati Aerospace and its new partner, Triple Five Ventures Co. LLC, on Jan. 17, 2018. The hearing is meant to demonstrate whether the company has the financial wherewithal to carry out its proposed $40 million, 1,604-acre purchase from the town, in order to do aviation manufacturing. 

In October 2015, Luminati, headed by founder and CEO Daniel Preston, purchased the former Long Island Sky Dive site at the Enterprise Park at Calverton. At that time, Mr. Preston said they planned to build “unmanned aerial vehicles” there that would beam wireless internet down to earth. The venture, he said, would be led by a “dream team” of scientists.

By 2017, the plan got bigger. Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter announced that Mr. Preston now wanted to buy all of the town’s land at EPCAL, of which about 600 acres could be developed.

Over the course of the year, stories came to light about past lawsuits and liens filed against Mr. Preston, including a 2009 lawsuit by Atair Aerospace, a company he helped create. That suit claimed Mr. Preston presented a false job offer from another company offering him a higher salary than he received at Atair, leading to his dismissal from Atair. The case was later settled, but terms were not disclosed.

And just as Luminati’s chances of gaining town approval for the $40 million deal began to seem unlikely, it was announced in July that United Refining Energy Corp., headed by billionaire John Catsimatidis, was “highly interested” in providing Luminati with “sufficient financial resources” to help them buy the town property and bring their project to fruition.

By December, that deal fell apart, too, but Triple Five Ventures Co. LLC, based in Edmonton, Canada, quickly came aboard as a new partner for Luminati, at which point a Town Board majority voted to schedule the Q&E hearing.

Triple Five is best known for developing huge shopping malls, including the Mall of America in Minnesota, but an attorney for Luminati said they also deal in commercial and industrial development.

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Photo caption: Daniel Preston, the CEO of Luminati Aerospace during a press tour. (Credit: Krysten Massa)

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