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Company proposes $85M retail complex near Republic Airport

A retail development called Broad Hollow Commons is

A retail development called Broad Hollow Commons is proposed at the southwest corner of Route 110 and Conklin Street. Credit: Acadia Realty

Rye-based Acadia Realty Trust has proposed a $75 million to $85 million retail development in East Farmingdale in the heart of the heavily traveled Route 110 Corridor.

The project, called Broad Hollow Commons, would include 180,000 to 200,000 square feet of retail space on 19 acres at the southwest corner of the Conklin Street intersection near Republic Airport.

It is a prominent location with a tangled back story and vitally interested players, including local, state and federal governments and area civic groups.

Empty of development now, the site served as a discharge basin for aviation manufacturer Fairchild Republic until 1983 and was listed as a New York State Superfund site in 1987. Fairchild’s cleanup, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, continued for decades.

A deal between the Fairchild Corp. and Stew Leonard’s that would have put a supermarket on the site fizzled in the mid-2000s after aviation groups and the state Department of Transportation, which owns the airport, argued the design would have endangered shoppers directly underneath landing planes.

Department officials wrote at the time that much of the site was included in a “runway protection zone” outlined by the Federal Aviation Administration and put in place less to protect the planes, flying in at about 140 feet above ground level, than the people below. The department refused to allow curb cuts for the site on Route 110, effectively quashing the plan.

Stew Leonard’s and Fairchild sued the DOT. Litigation surrounding the deal is pending, according to a department spokesman. Earlier this year the supermarket was built across Route 110 in the Airport Plaza shopping center.

Enter Acadia, which in 2012 took title to the property in lieu of foreclosure after Fairchild defaulted on a loan the realty company had provided, Acadia executives said.

The purchase price was $12.4 million, according to Acadia’s 2012 annual report. The company filed a site plan with Babylon Town earlier this year.

The plan calls for a parking lot under the path planes take, and pushes buildings to the property periphery. Most of the buildings will top out at 20 feet; one will be 35 feet tall.

Curb cuts originally planned for East Carmans Road were moved to Conklin Street in response to community concerns, company executives said.

Acadia will pave, build on or otherwise cover the site under a 2014 agreement between the company and the DEC.

Approvals and comment from the town, FAA and DOT could be at least 18 months away, said Christopher Conlon, Acadia’s chief operating officer.

In the meantime, the company is mounting what executives say is an exhaustive public outreach effort.

The president of the Long Island Business Aviation Association, which once sued to stop construction at the site, says the group has no objections to the current plans.

“The community is pretty much behind the project,” said Thomas H. Joseph Jr., president of Residents of East Farmingdale Civic Association. “It’s going to improve the area and create jobs.”

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