Huntington residents hear about proposed development

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The ripening plans for a new retail, office and medical shopping center on part of an apple farm on Jericho Turnpike in Elwood have been unveiled by a local developer.

Kris Torkan, president of Great Neck-based Villadom Corp., discussed plans for an $80-million project last week with several civic groups at a meeting in Elwood hosted by the Greater Huntington Civic Group. Torkan said the center is slated to cover 400,000 square feet at Jericho Turnpike and Manor Road on the Dix Hills border. About 10 of 43 acres on the parcel are slated for use as green space.

The project will feature a center that is two stories in some areas, 1,610 ground-level parking spaces and 390 below-ground-level parking spaces, and an outdoor public area featuring a fountain.

"What we are designing is called a lifestyle center," said Torkan, whose company also owns and manages the Miracle Mile Shopping Center in Manhasset. "It's a new terminology in the retail world, where you have a mix of tenants that serve the community [but is] not entirely retail."

Those tenants are expected to include food, retail and service-type businesses, Torkan said. He added he is aiming for a range of tenants that are new to the area. Because details are still in early design stages, Torkan declined to identify them.

Torkan said he has signed a 99-year lease for use of the property, with an option to buy. The parcel owner, Salomon Mediavilla, declined to comment. The remainder of the 100-plus acre site will remain as is.

Gauging community support and gaining community input were important, Torkan said.

"Before we finalize our plans, we want all community input so we can address all relevant concerns and do this as a partnership with our neighbors," Torkan said.

Steven Spucces, president of the Greater Huntington Civic Group, said turnout was high for the recent presentation.

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"Right now, we are reserving our position until the people have the full opportunity to see the plan," he said.

Torkan, whose company builds high-end homes and commercial properties, said he thought the evening went well and he plans to address concerns raised at the meeting, such as construction noise and traffic.

"We are reviewing these concerns with our professionals and finding ways to mitigate them," Torkan said.

By this summer, Torkan hopes to apply to the town for a zone change for the parcel to allow commercial retail development. Huntington Town spokesman A.J. Carter said the land is zoned as one-acre residential.

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