Housing plan for Brentwood farm moves ahead

The 1891 Knoll Farm in Brentwood is in The 1891 Knoll Farm in Brentwood is in the running to be replaced by a 240-unit affordable housing development being billed as transit-oriented "smart growth." Photo Credit: Jessica Rotkiewicz

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Plans to build 240 rental units on the historic Knoll Farm in Brentwood are moving forward, and the developer intends to submit a new site plan to town and community leaders within the next week.

"We're meeting with local groups to make sure everyone is OK with the development that we're proposing," said Steven Krieger, a principal with the Engel Burman Group of Garden City, who described the firm's project as "transit-oriented development."

The 17-acre equestrian farm, established in 1891 on Suffolk Avenue, is one of the last of its kind in the area, and is conveniently positioned across the street from the Brentwood Long Island Rail Road station.

Owners Pete and Bonnie Mercier said last year that business at the stable never recovered from the recession. They approached Engel Burman about selling the property in 2011.

Officials have not disclosed the sale price, but records show the farm was assessed in 2010 at $245,000 and had a sale price of $1.5 million in 2001.

Krieger said the company has met several times with Islip Town officials and state Assemb. Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood) about the development, and the sale of the farm probably will be finalized by the end of the year.

Krieger said the developer has also consulted with Saratoga Associates, which has offices in New York City, Syracuse and Sarasota Springs, because of that group's role in a major downtown revitalization project for Brentwood, which Ramos is spearheading.

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Ramos said the potential development "provides a built-in market for the downtown businesses. Within walking distance, people can go from their apartments and patronize the various businesses in the downtown."

But, Ramos said, some constituents have expressed concerns about the size of the project and the further reduction of open space. "I think it's a positive project, and I think it would be good for the community as long as we can strike a balance between the concerns of many of our residents and the need for economic development," he said.

Krieger said the units would be one- to three-bedroom apartments, but did not specify what portion would be considered affordable housing. The development would include a community center where civic groups can meet, a large outdoor green space, and a clubhouse with an outdoor pool for residents. With Laura Mann

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