A developer wants to convert a former Superfund site in Mineola into a warehouse, marking the first publicly proposed plan to redevelop the property since it closed in 1991.
Adam Mann, who owns Great Neck-based real estate firm AJM, presented the idea to Mineola trustees Wednesday and said he would turn 435 First St. "into a state-of-the-art industrial logistics warehouse-storage of some building supplies and not manufacturing." Mann told trustees he would gut the building's interior, but “keep the structure because the bones are there, but it needs a lot of care.”
“When you dust off the mess, it’s a great piece of property,” Mann said.
Now-defunct Jackson Steel operated inside the 42,000-square-foot building from 1970 to 1991, making metal components. Employees used degreasers that contained harmful chemicals, including tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethylene and 1,1,1-trichloroethane, according to documents from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Nassau County health officials noticed employees weren’t properly storing the degreasing sludge in drums during an inspection of the facility.
Workers stopped using the chemicals in March 1985, the EPA said.
The EPA placed the building on its Superfund National Priorities List in February 2000 and has since spent millions of dollars decontaminating the soil. The EPA took the building off its list in September 2015 and marked it ready for redevelopment in July 2016.
Between 1991 and now, the property accumulated about $16 million in tax liens, missed mortgage payments and other unpaid costs. Most of the $16 million is the bill EPA has issued for its cleanup efforts. There's more than $3 million in tax liens from Nassau County and a $1.73 million tax bill from Mineola, according to public records.
Jackson Steel's initial owners, John J. Beransky and Joseph Page, had filed for bankruptcy and sold the property to M.V. Barmed Realty in 1987. The new owner, Charles Flynn, told the EPA that he filed for bankruptcy in 1991 and dissolved his company in 1993.
Mann told trustees that they would have to agree to a unique deal that gives him ownership of the building in order for his plan to work.
Under Mann's proposal, the village and county would grant him ownership without him having to pay the liens. In exchange, Mann would foot the bill for any additional cleanup necessary and all the renovations needed to get the property ready for use. Mann would also agree to share revenue generated from renting the property with Mineola, thus allowing the village to collect property taxes from the building.
Trustees, who made no decision about Mann's proposal, appeared receptive to his idea.
Deputy Mayor Paul Pereira said it's "a good first step to at least start the conversation" of redeveloping the lot. Mayor Scott Strauss said the village benefits financially if the building is rehabilitated.
"It has been cleaned up," Strauss said. "It is time to see what we can do to get it back on the tax rolls."