Science Center no longer buying West Marine site

The former West Marine building on West Main Street. (Credit: Tim Gannon)
The former West Marine building on East Main Street. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

The Long Island Science Center is no longer looking to buy the former West Marine building on East Main Street, according to board member Larry Oxman, who said the center is now looking for other space.

Mr. Oxman wouldn’t say why the Science Center is no longer interested in the West Marine building, which has been vacant since West Marine moved to Route 58 in 2011.

“We’re looking at other property now,” he said.

The Science Center announced in 2013 that it planned to move to a larger building in downtown Riverhead and had signed a contract to buy the former West Marine building.

Michelle Pelletier, hired in December of 2012, left the organization at the end of March, according to LISC’s operations facilitator Amber Setelius. The science center will be run by Ms. Setelius and program coordinator Judy Isbitiren in the meantime, she said. Ms. Setelius pointed questions about the science center’s future home to the organization’s board of trustees.

The plan was for the Science Center’s current building on West Main Street to be sold, torn down, and replaced with a five-story, 48-unit apartment complex. The Science Center, in turn, planned to use the money from that sale to buy the 10,000-square-foot West Marine building and move the Science Center there, tripling its space.

Originally, a Brooklyn group called Simshabs X planned to purchase the museum’s current site and develop it as an upscale apartment complex called Blue River Estates. That group later dropped out of the project.

The apartment complex now proposed is called Peconic Crossing. The developers are a join effort between for-profit developers Conifer Realty of Rochester and the non-profit Community Development Corporation of Long Island.

The developers recently said they will be seeking to give preference to artist housing in the apartments, with art gallery and studio space on the first floor.

Peconic Crossing, which has yet to receive site plan approval from the town Planning Board or IDA tax exemptions it applied for earlier this year, is also still moving forward, according to Allen Handelman, Conifer’s Vice President of Development.

“The project is on track,” Mr. Handelman wrote in an email. “Our agreement with LISC provides sufficient time for them to identify a suitable new location.”

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BARBARAELLEN KOCH | The Long Island Science Center would move if apartments get built.
The Long Island Science Center is looking for new space now after giving up efforts to buy the former West Marine building. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)