Vintage Square concept gets final extension

A proposal to build a multiplex movie theater, parking garage, workforce housing and stores on Railroad Avenue was given the fifth six-month extension of its “qualified and eligible sponsor” status by the Town Board Tuesday night.

“This is the last six-month extension,” Supervisor Sean Walter said Tuesday. “If this doesn’t happen, this project is over.”

The qualified and eligible sponsor designation for Vintage Square is required under urban renewal laws because the developers are seeking to buy a portion of town-owned land, which is currently in use as a parking lot.

The Town Board gave them the “qualified and eligible” designation, which is meant to show that the applicant has the financial means and experience to carry out the project, in February of 2008, and the original expiration date was June 15, 2008.

The final deadline by which the company must acquire the land is Dec. 15, 2010, although Vintage Square could let its status expire and later seek another qualified and eligible sponsor designation, for which a new public hearing would be needed.

A group led by John Burke of Riverhead, Vintage Square has called the proposal a “transit-oriented development” because it calls for shuttle buses that would take people to and from the Orient ferries and because it would be adjacent to the train station and bus stop. Vintage Square also proposes to provide parking for the adjacent court buildings. In addition to the town-owned land, the group seeks to acquire private property along Railroad Avenue and its surrounding streets, demolishing structures on them.

“What we’re trying to do here will change the town forever,” Mr. Burke said in an interview. He thanked the board for granting the extension.

Mr. Burke has said that the estimated $61.3 million cost of the project would be financed by loans from Heinlein Capital Venture of Hauppauge, a group headed by developer George Heinlein, and that Marquee Cinemas of West Virginia is on board to erect the movie theater.

“The team is still intact and we’re moving forward,” Mr. Burke said.

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