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IDA: $12M craft beer facility in Copiague falls flat

Matthew T. McDonough, chief executive of the Babylon

Matthew T. McDonough, chief executive of the Babylon Town Industrial Development Agency, inside the derelict former missile-component test facility at 1305 S. Strong Ave. in Copiague on Aug. 26, 2015. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Plans to build a $12 million craft-beer business incubator at a dilapidated former missile-component factory in Copiague are off, according to the Town of Babylon Industrial Development Agency.

The Babylon IDA planned to purchase the vacant 25,000-square-foot building at 1305 S. Strong Ave., demolish it, and build a new facility with space for 10 brewers, brewing equipment and a tasting room.

“The brewery project that we originally proposed will not be moving forward at 1305 S. Strong Ave,” Matthew T. McDonough, 27, chief executive of the IDA and the official behind the brewery plan, said in late February. McDonough said the IDA couldn’t agree on a price with the property owners, and that the project would require grants that would have taken a long time to receive.

The property is owned by Crescent Group Realty LLC, which consists of Eugene G. Smith, Dominick Mavellia and Kenneth Auerbach. The owners were approached with several alternative proposals for the site, though none was finalized. The owners said they still plan to renovate the location this year.

Smith, who also owns a landscaping service in Yaphank and a home improvement store in Smithtown, said he was open to any plans for the site as long as something was “done for the betterment of the community.”

“It’s just a matter of who wants to do what, and what’s the highest and best use,” said Smith, who holds the mortgage for the property.

But Mavellia and Auerbach said they plan to buy out Smith’s ownership in the property and invest about $1.5 million to renovate the site. Smith said that whether the other owners want “to commit to any one of these projects or buy me out is up to them.”

Mavellia and Auerbach said they want to turn the site into an “industrial flex space” for as many as 16 specialty contractors, like plumbers, carpenters and electricians. Preliminary plans also call for some office space.

“We’re trying to do something nice and bring back a building that is going to be very desirable for the community,” Mavellia said in a phone interview in late February.

The industrial building — built more than 60 years ago — has about $1 million in unpaid property taxes and penalties going back to the 1990s attached, in addition to a $750,000 New York State Department of Environmental Conservation cleanup bill for treating minor groundwater contamination resulting from aged cesspools. The DEC reported in 2013 that the site was not a danger to residents because they use public water, not wells.

The IDA’s original plan to build a brewery garnered support from the community and political officials including Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). In late 2015, the proposed project was awarded $700,000 by the Empire State Development Corp., the state’s primary business-aid agency. McDonough said the IDA will return the grant.

“The IDA still has a goal of seeing an incubator space for breweries,” said McDonough, adding that the agency could look for a suitable location in downtown Copiague.

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