With Resorts gone, developer wants to build drag strip at EPCAL

Just hours after Riverhead Town canceled its contract with Riverhead Resorts ­— the group that planned to build a $2 billion resorts complex on town-owned land in Calverton — another potential developer stepped forward.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO Neil Rosenberg of Ronkonkoma wants to build a dragstip at EPCAL.

Neil Rosenberg of Ronkonkoma, who was at Town Hall Friday as the Town Board voted to terminate its land sale contract with Riverhead Resorts, hopes the board will sell part of the land to his group, which wants to build a quarter-mile drag racing strip at the former Grumman naval plant property, known as the Enterprise Park at Calverton, or EPCAL.
“We were waiting for this to happen,” Mr. Rosenberg told the News-Review, referencing the failed resorts project.
Mr. Rosenberg said he was part of the Rexcorp group, to which the Town Board had considered selling 755 acres to three years ago. The board ultimately decided to sell the land to Riverhead Resorts instead.
Rexcorp, led by developer Scott Rechler, sought to build a large resort featuring an oval race track, equestrian facilities, hotels and conference centers and other recreational facilities.
“This is the older proposal on a smaller scale,” Mr. Rosenberg said. “Some of the players from that group are ready to immediately propose a smaller project.”
Scott Rechler is not involved in the current proposal, he noted
The proposal will not include residences, resorts or other attractions along with the drag strip, Mr. Rosenberg said.
“It’s strictly a drag strip at this time and we’d want a right of first refusal on the remainder of the 755 acres. It would be dug down into the ground, and have noise attenuation, all the things a modern drag strip would have,” he said.
There would be stands for between 5,000 and 10,000 spectators, he said.
Mr. Rosenberg said his group seeks to purchase about 250 acres at about the same price per acre Riverhead Resorts offered in its most recent proposal. That would come to about $35.7 million.
Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter, who spoke briefly with Mr. Rosenberg after Friday’s meeting, said he’s hoping to hire a planning consultant to study subdividing the land before considering new proposals.
Those processes, along with a town site plan for EPCAL, could take at least a year, he said.
Recreational zoning has to be investigated further, he said.
“We’ve spent 11 years trying to do something on the recreational zoning and we’ve had one song and dance after another; it doesn’t really work there,” Mr. Walter said. ”I’m not promoting any use at this point. Let’s study it and find out what works for the property.”
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