Yet another new shopping center proposed for Route 58

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | A new shopping center is proposed for this land on Route 58 in Riverhead.

A 13-acre Route 58 property that has been the subject of numerous lawsuits over the past seven years is now the site of a proposed 118,650-square-foot  shopping center.

Westchester-based Saber-Riverhead has filed site plans for a 3,900-square-foot retail pad fronting on Route 58 — in an existing building that had been previous property owner Larry Oxman’s real estate office — along with three other attached retail spaces in a proposed 114,700-square-foot building toward the back of the property.

The land, located just east of Riverhead Raceway on the south side of Route 58, is zoned Business Center, which allows for retail use.

At last Thursday’s Zoning Board of Appeals meeting, Saber-Riverhead received permission to put a 32-square-foot temporary sign seeking tenants on the property for one year. The ZBA granted a variance for the sign, since the code only allows for nine square foot signs.

“The whole point here is that it’s difficult to show a place so the prospective developer can get clients who can come to a site and he can decide if they fit in to what he’s doing,” said Charles Cuddy, the attorney for Saber-Riverhead.

The ZBA unanimously approved the sign.

The land was previously owned by Mr. Oxman and Riverhead Park Corp. In 2004, the town accused them of illegally clearing the land, just days before the Town Board was planning to rezone it. Mr. Oxman claimed they planned to farm the land, and that clearing for agricultural use requires no permit.

The town subsequently took Mr. Oxman and Riverhead Park Corp to state Supreme Court on the alleged violations, and they then filed a $10 million federal civil rights lawsuit against the town.

A judge in Oct. 2010 dismissed the town’s lawsuit in state Supreme Court, a decision Mr. Oxman said is still being appealed. The federal lawsuit also is still ongoing.

Despite this, the property went into foreclosure in 2009 and was purchased by Saber-Riverhead LLC.

The proposed shopping center is one of several pending proposals for new shopping centers on the west end of Route 58: A new Walmart has been approved on the land in between Applebees and the state Department of Transportation yard; a Costco and other stores have been proposed as part of a 270,000-square-foot shopping center on 41 acres across the street from Saber-Riverhead; and a 64,000-square-foot shopping center was recently proposed on 12 acres owned by Irwin Garsten on the north side of Route 58, in between Hudson City Savings Bank and the town highway department yard.

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