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Piazza at Glen Cove project blocked by lawsuit

A lawsuit has delayed work on the Piazza

A lawsuit has delayed work on the Piazza at Glen Cove project, seen on March 2, 2016. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Almost all the stores and offices at the site of a long-planned apartment and retail complex in the heart of downtown Glen Cove have been vacant for months, creating what a manager of a neighboring cafe called an “eyesore.”

But a lawsuit continues to block demolition of one of the structures, and there’s no indication of when the chain-link fences around the site will come down and construction of the new complex will begin.

The Piazza at Glen Cove, which Great Neck-based developer Jobco Realty and Construction describes as “designed in the grand tradition of historic European piazzas,” would include 110 apartments and more than 25,000 square feet of commercial space set around a large public plaza, according to drawings filed with the city.

“This particular project really sets the stage for a real revitalization of the downtown,” Mayor Reginald Spinello said.

Piazza would replace Village Square, which comprises four buildings set amid redbrick walkways and patios.

Spinello said Jobco president Michael Puntillo has told him he plans to apply for permits to demolish part of the site in the next few weeks.

Puntillo declined in an email to offer a timeline for the project or other details of his plans, citing the litigation.

According to court documents, a Puntillo company, GCVS LLC, and All Island Real Estate Holdings LLC sued each other last year over attempts by GCVS to cut off utilities to the dermatology office operated by All Island’s principal, Dr. Joseph Onorato.

GCVS needs to shut off utilities to demolish adjacent property and wants All Island to pay for rerouting utilities, documents say. All Island believes GCVS should pay, the records show.

In December, Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Brown issued a preliminary injunction temporarily barring GCVS from shutting off the utilities and interfering with access to the dermatology office’s parking. GCVS has appealed the decision.

Onorato was at one time in negotiations to sell his property — which includes the ClayNation art studio next to his office — to GCVS, said Jon Ward, Onorato’s Uniondale attorney. But no agreement was reached.

Ronald Rosenberg, a Garden City-based attorney for Puntillo, said in a statement that Onorato’s actions over the past two years have delayed the development.

Resident Rick Smith hopes the delay becomes permanent. Smith, owner of The Piano Exchange a few blocks away, believes the “mega apartment building” is “out of character” with the rest of Glen Cove.

He criticized plans by Puntillo to seek tax breaks for the project, which would be “on the backs of the rest of taxpayers in this town.”

However, Spinello said Puntillo has long planned to seek the breaks, which Puntillo said he needs to build Piazza. Spinello said the city would reap more tax revenue in the long term.

Jennifer Lee, a manager of Coco Moka Café next to the site, said she’s eager for construction to begin. She’s expecting an uptick in business, first from construction workers and then from Piazza residents.

Francine Koehler, executive director of the Glen Cove Downtown Business Improvement District, said Piazza will help “bring a sense of vitality to downtown. We need feet on the street here.”

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