Officials: Daniel Preston’s death won’t hurt EPCAL sale

What impact, if any, will the death of Daniel Preston have on the proposed sale of 1,644 acres of land at Riverhead Town’s Enterprise Park at Calverton?

So far, officials say, none.

Mr. Preston died last Thursday in Little Falls, N.Y., at the age of 52, reportedly of cancer. His death was first reported by Riverhead Local.

His company, Luminati Enterprises, owns 25% of Calverton Aviation & Technology, the company to which the town is trying to sell 1,644 acres of land for $40 million. CAT had stated that Mr. Preston was a nonvoting member of the company.

Prior to the formation of CAT, Luminati had been approved for a runway use agreement at EPCAL, and in 2018, then-supervisor Sean Walter announced Luminati and a silent partner would be buying 1,644 acres at EPCAL.

The silent partner dropped out, and after two other partners dropped out, a real estate development company, Triple Five, and CAT jumped in, it was reported at the time. Mr. Preston’s background also became an issue at the time as it was revealed that he faced numerous lawsuits, including one from a company that claimed Luminati defaulted on a $10 million loan.

The Town Board in November 2018 voted 3-2 to approve the sale to CAT in a vote along party lines — with Democrats Catherine Kent and then-supervisor Laura Jens-Smith voting against — but the deal has yet to be finalized, in part because the town has been unable to get subdivision approval from the state Department of Environmental Conservation as a precondition for the sale.

Asked if Mr. Preston’s death changes anything about the potential sale, Chris Kent, an attorney for CAT, said, “It doesn’t change anything. Luminati is still operating and they are still fully operational.”

Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar also said the death of Mr. Preston will bring about no change in the agreement with CAT and Riverhead Town. She said that the 25% portion of the deal that belonged to Mr. Preston will be decided by his estate and CAT.

Town Board member Tim Hubbard agreed. “It doesn’t really change anything as far as we’re concerned,” he said.

The majority ownership of CAT — 75% — is owned by Triple Five Realty, a company best known for building shopping and entertainment ventures like the Mall of America in Minnesota.

Both CAT and the town’s Community Development Agency recently agreed to file a joint application before the Riverhead Industrial Development agency in order to determine if CAT has the finances and ability to carry out the project proposed by CAT. In September, the IDA held a public meeting to hear CAT’s presentation. The public was not invited to speak at the meeting, although they could attend.

At that time, the IDA said they will have a public hearing in the future where the public can speak. No date has been set and no subsequent presentations have been made.

CAT said in September that it plans to spend about $245 million to acquire and develop an 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.