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Lindenhurst district to pick storage units or senior-citizen condos on school site

Two developers are competing for a contract to

Two developers are competing for a contract to redevelop the closed Edward W. Bower Elementary School on Montauk Highway in Lindenhurst. Credit: Steve Pfost

Two developers vying for a contract to redevelop a school property in Lindenhurst took jabs at each other’s proposals Wednesday night as they presented their visions for the property.

Simply Self Storage of Orlando, Florida, and Engel Burman Group of Garden City have submitted offers to redevelop the Edward W. Bower Elementary School on Montauk Highway. The school has been closed since 2011 because of its age and declining enrollment.

Both developers had previously put forth proposals that the school board, after voting to sell the building, voted down in October. Simply Self Storage offered $5 million to build a 200,000-square-foot facility with 1,400 units while Engel Burman Group offered to buy the land for $8.25 million and build 150 senior condominiums.

With the board determined to pick a buyer, the developers tweaked their offers at the Wednesday night meeting. Simply Self Storage is still offering $5 million but now for a 150,000-square-foot building with 1,000 units. The company also vowed to give to the district a soccer field and to build 50 parking spaces for the field.

Engel Burman cut its offer down to $5.5 million for 100 senior condo units, plus a clubhouse and pool. The condos would be 1,000-square-foot, one-bedroom units marketed for around $400,000 each. While the company will apply for 150 units, it only expects approval from Lindenhurst Village for 100, said Scott Burman, a partner in the firm.

An attorney for the company, Albert D’Agostino of Valley Stream, warned that storage facilities are often “place holders” until the economy gets better and are then converted into another use. He also presented a tax analysis that he said showed that the storage company would likely seek a tax abatement and generate about $2.5 million in taxes over a 15-year period, in contrast to the condos, which the analysis claims would garner almost $31 million for the same time period.

Kevin Bulger, a consultant for Simply Self Storage, called the analysis “grossly exaggerated” and “very disturbing.” He said the company consulted with the town and expects to pay between $750,000 and $850,000 in taxes each year.

Matthew McDonough, CEO of the Babylon Town Industrial Development Agency, said the agency no longer offers tax abatements to self-storage facilities, but could offer one to a senior housing developer, depending on the circumstances.

Bulger countered that Engel Burman’s estimated year-and-a-half timeline for getting all needed local and state agency approvals was unrealistic. He said the storage company would have a much quicker timeline and would cause less traffic and put less of a demand on utilities than senior housing.

After the presentations, the school board agreed to seek an independent tax analysis. The board will vote on the proposals on Dec. 16.

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