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Veterans' housing proposed at historic site if medical office plan fails

Dominick Mavellia at his Deer Park office on

Dominick Mavellia at his Deer Park office on May 13, 2015, next to an artist rendering of a building he is proposing for the corner of Route 25A and Park Avenue in Huntington. Photo Credit: Ed Betz

The developer behind a proposal to build a medical arts facility in the middle of a Huntington historic district says he is in danger of losing the leasing deal he has with North Shore-LIJ Health System and Go Health Urgent Care.

If the deal falls through, the only option for the property is to convert an existing deli into a home for veterans, Deer Park developer Dominick Mavellia said. A residential facility would be allowable under the site's current zoning, he said.

"If I lose this tenant, then my only other alternative is to turn to my charity, The Spirit of Huntington," he said. "We will house veterans with PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] and who are in need of rehabilitation caused by trauma, stress and drug and alcohol abuse. I can have housing as of right now on the site with the existing zoning."

Mavellia said he is frustrated over delays in a decision for a zone change for the site at Park Avenue and Route 25A within the Old Huntington Green Historic District.

In April 1790, George Washington stopped at Platt's Tavern, a popular eatery on the site at the time, to thank residents for supporting the war.

Mavellia has proposed a 3,000-square-foot urgent-care facility and a 7,000-square-foot office building that would be leased by North Shore-LIJ.

Preservationists concerned that the design of the building does not fit into the historic designation of the neighborhood have been in discussions with Mavellia about their desire for a historic-looking building and concerns over how it would be situated on the site.

The town board last week voted to extend to Dec. 6 the deadline for making a decision on changing the zone from a residential district to C-1 zoning, which allows only professional offices, funeral homes, art or music studios, and day care centers.

The board had set a Sept. 7 deadline to make a decision, but voted for the extension to allow Mavellia and the preservationists to continue talking.

Mavellia said he is to meet with the town Historic Preservation Commission, which is advising the town board on the matter, on Monday.

Town Supervisor Frank Petrone declined to comment on Mavellia's veterans housing alternative.

"It's a process," Petrone said. "We're trying to make the process fair to everyone because everyone has good intentions."

Mavellia said he has rejected possible tenants such as Starbucks and a gas station. He originally requested a zone change that would have allowed uses such as offices, retail and customer service shops, but backed down after pressure from nearby residents.

Mavellia said he has also changed the design of the medical arts facility several times to accommodate preservationists.

"I feel that the town board is unjustifiably withholding the vote and using that as leverage so that I acquiesce and agree with the historic commission's building, which is nothing more than an outdated barn that is not functional for my tenant," Mavellia said.

He said he has exhausted all other tenant possibilities and that the medical arts facility is "the best possible use" for the location. But if it doesn't work out, Mavellia said he is happy to help veterans through The Spirit of Huntington, which is made up of artists who support children with special needs and veterans.

"I would be glad to . . . help fill a dire need for housing for our veterans with disabilities across Long Island," he said.

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