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Project slated for Grumman site in Bethpage now in limbo

One of the biggest development projects in Nassau County is now in limbo after the developer gave a termination notice to the county, officials have confirmed.

Steel Equities filed a "notice of termination" with the county on Nov. 5, less than a month after winning rights last October to develop the 101-acre site on the former Grumman property in Bethpage, officials said.

But the county kept the proposal alive by getting a nine-month extension Thursday from the county Planning Commission to file subdivision plans for the project, which is in the hometown of County Executive Edward Mangano.

"The county is under no pressure to pursue an extension or terminate the deal with Steel Equities," Mangano spokesman Michael Martino said Friday. "However, the county executive will not allow this situation to fester much longer, and has been actively exploring other options for the property that will benefit the taxpayers."

The Grumman site and the Lighthouse Project at the Coliseum site in Uniondale are far and away the largest developments in the pipeline in Nassau, and now both are up in the air.

Former County Executive Thomas Suozzi put the Grumman proposal together and was a strong backer of the Lighthouse Project, which is still awaiting zoning and environmental approvals from the Town of Hempstead, as well as a lease between the county and the developer.

While there was no specific plan for the property, Steel Equities would have been the developer for what Suozzi had hoped would be an office park catering to biotechnology and new industries. Any zoning change would require the approval of the Town of Oyster Bay.

Minority leader Diane Yatauro of Glen Cove said she thought the county had "waited long enough on Steel Equities" and should seek another developer for the Grumman site.

Several telephone calls to Steel Equities, including President Glenn Lostritto, for comment were not returned.

Yatauro was presiding officer of the legislature last October when approval of the project was rushed through after Suozzi and Steel Equities said they had to have a deal in place because their private financing opportunity ended Nov. 6.

The legislature approved the deal on Oct. 19, and Steel Equities filed its notice of termination less than three weeks later, citing the inadequacy of state and county economic benefits but making no mention of its private financing.

The notice asked for the return of a $2.85 million down payment, and Martino said the money would be refunded if the deal was not resurrected.

While the Mangano administration has said it will act quickly on the Grumman site, Deputy County Attorney Nick Sarandis had asked the planning commission for an extension "for as long as the rules of the commission permit."

Chairman Jeffrey Greenfield suggested Oct. 14, and the commission voted in favor of that.

Sarandis did not go into details in requesting the delay, saying only that, "there have been some issues with the sale of the property."

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