Redevelopment plans for former Brunswick Hospital site to be unveiled

Brunswick Hospital Center in Amityville on Aug. 22,

Brunswick Hospital Center in Amityville on Aug. 22, 2005 before it was torn down. It is now an empty lot awaiting development. Photo Credit: Newsday / Jim Peppler

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Plans for a major new retail and rental apartment complex where Amityville's Brunswick Hospital once stood will be unveiled next month, a lawyer for the company that owns the site said.

The project, which will require multiple village approvals, will draw on a concept presented earlier this month at a village board meeting that called for more than 50,000 square feet of retail space and 273 residential units. Joseph F. Buzzell, a Melville attorney representing the owner, BH Realty, said those numbers would change before the plans are presented at a July 14 board meeting.

Trustees are to consider BH Realty's request for a rezoning that would allow for mixed use at the 7.67-acre property at Broadway and Louden Avenue. Current zoning, which Buzzell said dates back 70 years and is an impediment to redevelopment, splits the property into residential and retail zones, officials have said.

Brunswick Hospital, built in the 1880s or earlier, employed hundreds before closing in 2005. Most buildings were demolished in 2012.

Amityville officials are eager to see redevelopment, which would restore the value of a property that generated hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in village property taxes before demolition.

But they have moved slowly on rezoning, with Mayor James Wandell promising deliberations will last until mid-August.

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"Because of its size, its location, the amount of traffic that goes by, its proximity to the entranceway to our downtown, there is no property that's more important to Amityville's development than this one," trustee Nick LaLota said of the old hospital site.

The current concept is a departure from the retail-only plan BH Realty presented to the village board last year. That plan would have been anchored by a CVS drugstore and would have been built in phases.

It was dropped earlier this month after BH Realty received comments from village officials.

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"The board was looking for a comprehensive plan for the entire 8-acre site, not just what might happen on a fraction of the parcel," LaLota said.

While some potential tenants besides CVS have expressed interest in the property, Buzzell said, his client turned away fast-food restaurants and convenience store operators. More desirable tenants have been reluctant to commit to a site with unresolved zoning, he said.

One way forward, outlined by Wandell in an email to village residents last week, is to approve the zoning change with restrictions disallowing certain uses and requiring a percentage of green space and other design elements.

That approach has not assuaged all concerns of trustees and civic groups. "Adding more commercial space when we already have such a high vacancy rate is questionable," said Joan Donnison, president of the Bay Village Civic Association.

"We're watching to see what the redevelopment is going to look like," said Dina Shingleton, president of the Amityville Chamber of Commerce. "I'm sure whatever it is, the Village of Amityville and the Chamber will be working together closely."

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