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Riverhead IDA formally accepts joint application for EPCAL development

The Riverhead Industrial Development Agenda on Wednesday voted to officially accept the joint application of the Riverhead Community Development Agency and Calverton Aviation & Technology, setting off a review process for a project that started in 2018.

CAT, headed by Triple Five Group, is seeking to buy 1,644 acres of land at Enterprise Park at Calverton for $40 million. The town signed a contract with CAT in 2018 and it has yet to be finalized, in part because the town has been unable to get subdivision approval from the state.

The Town Board in November 2018 voted 3-2 to approve the sale, in a vote split along party lines. 

Earlier this year, the town and CAT agreed to file a joint application before the IDA in order to determine if CAT has the finances and ability to carry out the project set forth by CAT.

The IDA held a public meeting Wednesday to hear CAT’s presentation, about a week after the application was publicly released. The public was invited to see the presentation but could not comment. 

“This is not a public hearing, therefore there will not be a public comment session during this meeting,” said IDA chair Jim Farley. 

He said there will be opportunities for the public to speak in the future. 

CAT said it plans to spend about $245 million to acquire and develop the initial 1 million square feet at EPCAL. It claims that the construction of the first phase of the project will result in 235 full-time equivalent construction jobs, with salaries and benefits of about $21 million. 

CAT’s development team on the project is now lead by J. Petrocelli of Ronkonkoma, which is best known for building the Long Island Aquarium, the Hyatt Hotel and Sea Side Ballroom and other projects in downtown Riverhead.

Chris Robinson of R&M Engineering, which is also working for CAT, said Phase One of the development will include five buildings. These will include two logistics buildings — each 300,000 square feet — and three two-story flex buildings totaling 400,000 square feet. Flex buildings have a variety of uses. 

The total size of the buildings would be 1 million square feet, he said.

The total size for the entirety of two phases of the project would be 10.04 million square feet, according to the application.

Mr. Robinson said the logistics industry has varying components.

“The envisioning here is the aeronautic aspect for bringing packages into a logistics building, and transferred onto tractor-trailer trucks which may be brought on to other distribution facilities,” he said.  

Companies like Amazon use their “last-mile distribution” centers, where they have tractor-trailer trucks in the overnight hours, Mr. Robinson said. 

“That end of the logistics business is not handled on Long Island,” Mr. Robinson said. “This would be an incredible opportunity to bring that here.”  

The Phase One development also will call for the construction of a new road which will tie into the Burman Boulevard and run through the development and meet up with River Road, to the south, Mr. Robison said. 

CAT has said it is a privately owned company and will not make its financials public. 

CAT has provided the CDA’s attorney with a letter confirming it has the assets to undertake the redevelopment of EPCAL, said Peter Curry, the attorney for CAT, in a Sept. 8 letter to Tracy Stark-James, the IDA’s executive director.

The town acquired the EPCAL property from the Navy in 1998 “for the specific purchase of economic development,” said Dawn Thomas, the executive director of the Community Development Agency, which has the same members as the Town Board. 

The Navy, beginning in 1953, had leased the land to the Grumman Corporation, which built and tested fighter jets there, and which was the biggest employer in the town until it left, and gave the property to the town. 

The town sold the 500-acre industrial core of EPCAL to a group led by builder Jan Burman in 2001 for about $17 million. Mr. Burman has since made more than $30 million reselling those properties, according to town records.

Officials said the redevelopment of EPCAL was intended to replace the jobs lost when Grumman left. 

Triple Five Group, which is best known for building large shopping centers, owns 75% of CAT, while Luminati Aerospace, headed by Daniel Preston, owns the other 25%.

Justin and Nader Ghermezian, who are principals in Triple Five Group, were present Wednesday but did not speak.