The Cerro Wire water tower starting to fall down as...

The Cerro Wire water tower starting to fall down as it is demolished in 2004.  An Amazon warehouse is planned for the site. Credit: Newsday/Karen Wiles Stabile

Amazon wants to build a warehouse on the old Cerro Wire property in Syosset, creating 550 jobs and possibly ending decades of debate over the site's future.

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino said Thursday the 200,000-square-foot warehouse would be located on the south end of the 39-acre site, near the Long Island Expressway and far from homes and a school. Since 1998, opposition from residents and school officials has scuttled a luxury mall and a housing and retail complex proposed for the land. 

Saladino said Amazon is in talks with the property owner Syosset Park Development LLC, which is a partnership between mall operator Simon Property Group and Castagna Realty Co. Simon owns Roosevelt Field mall in Garden City and Castagna owns the Americana shopping center in Manhasset. The companies didn't respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

Saladino said he has seen the site plan for the multimillion-dollar warehouse but it hasn't yet been submitted to Oyster Bay Town.

“This will be a key to turning the lock to getting our economy going again,” he said in an interview. “This means a comeback of jobs at a time that we really need it.”

Of the 550 jobs, 400 will be delivery drivers and 150 will be warehouse workers, according to Saladino.

Amazon spokeswoman Emily Hawkins wouldn't discuss the online retailer's plans. “We are constantly exploring new locations and weighing a variety of factors when deciding where to develop sites to best serve customers; however, we don’t provide information on our future roadmap,” she said.

An aerial view of the former Cerro Wire plant, located...

An aerial view of the former Cerro Wire plant, located north of the Long Island Expressway in Syosset.  Credit: Kevin P Coughlin

Amazon already has two warehouses in Bethpage on Grumman Road West. It also wants to turn a former Waldbaum's supermarket in Carle Place into a "last-mile" warehouse, serving as the last leg in the delivery of goods to a customer's home. 

A fourth warehouse on Long Island would follow Amazon's February 2019 decision to cancel a second headquarters planned for Long Island City, Queens. That project, which would have created 25,000 jobs, attracted intense criticism for nearly $3 billion in New York State and New York City tax incentives, and Amazon responded by bowing out. 

Saladino said Amazon isn’t requesting zoning changes for the Syosset warehouse, which he said eases the approval process considerably. Still, the land will require further environmental cleanup, having served as a manufacturing hub from the 1920s to the 1980s.

Cerro made steel electrical conduits, hot-rolled copper rods and steel strips. Its water tower was a prominent landmark along the LIE long after the factory shut down.

Oyster Bay town supervisor Joseph Saladino said Amazon's planned warehouse will...

Oyster Bay town supervisor Joseph Saladino said Amazon's planned warehouse will help the region's economy.  Credit: Danielle Silverman

In 1998, mall developer Taubman Centers Inc. in Michigan proposed building a 960,000-square-foot luxury mall on the property, starting a nearly 20-year fight that ended with Simon Property buying the vacant land in 2014. The fight was led by Saladino's predecessor, the late John Venditto.

In 2015, Simon joined with Castagna in proposing to build 625 townhouses and condominiums, two hotels, stores, offices, restaurants and a 30-acre park on the Cerro site and the adjacent Oyster Bay Department of Public Works. The project went nowhere amid strong opposition from residents.

The Amazon warehouse "ends the saga that has been dragging on for decades,” Saladino said Thursday.

The civic association, Residents for a More Beautiful Syosset, is "open to considering the Amazon proposal" and "strongly suggests that Amazon reach out to the Syosset community through a series of public meetings to explain their proposal," said association president Laura Schultz.

Nassau County is eager to help Amazon expand with tax breaks from the county's Industrial Development Agency.

"We've made it clear, we want Amazon here in our county," said IDA chairman Richard Kessel. "It means jobs, jobs, jobs — and we will be as creative as we can be to lay out the welcome mat."

Timeline: Cerro Wire site

1920 – Predecessor of Cerro Wire starts production.

1987 - Cerro vacates the site.

1990 - Tribune Co. proposes a printing plant.

1998 - Taubman Centers Inc. proposes a luxury mall.

2001 – Town of Oyster Bay denies special-use permit for the mall, sparking litigation.

2014 – Taubman sells the property to Simon Property Group.

2018 – Syosset Park Development proposes mixed-use development; 700 people attend a public hearing to oppose the project.

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