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To remediate or demolish? Smithtown to consider action on long-vacant downtown building damaged by fire

Fire severely damaged the 4,540-square-foot former medical offices

Fire severely damaged the 4,540-square-foot former medical offices at 57 Main St. in Kings Park in late 2017. Credit: Town of Smithtown Planning Department

A roofless, long-vacant downtown Kings Park building faces possible demolition after a Smithtown Town Board hearing Dec. 14 — the day of a scheduled referendum on sewer expansion that could boost area property values.

Fire severely damaged the 4,540-square-foot former medical offices at 57 Main St. in late 2017, and aerial photographs taken by town planners in September show a thicket of weeds and brush growth in the middle of the building. The town issued a permit for repair and reconstruction in 2019 but the building "remains structurally unsafe and in a state of disrepair," according to an inspection notice William White, the town’s building department director, sent last month to Bravado Enterprises II, the Lindenhurst-based company that owns the property.

As the site languished, the town forged ahead with rezoning and revitalization plans for the area. A 2019 downtown revitalization master plan and the 2020 draft town comprehensive plan envision a bustling, pedestrian-friendly business district with new apartments, restaurants and medical offices — much of it contingent on the planned sewer expansion, which would be funded by a $20 million New York State commitment and user fees.

"It’s in a fairly thriving part of the Kings Park business district, so it certainly is a blight," Smithtown Supervisor Edward Wehrheim said of the fire-damaged site.

Joseph D’Antona, listed in Building Department files as the building owner, operates wellness centers providing acupuncture and massage in Lindenhurst and at another Kings Park facility. He did not respond to a message left at the Lindenhurst facility.

Tina Paris, an architect who worked on reconstruction plans early after the fire, described D’Antona as a "dedicated health provider" whose plans to rebuild after the fire had been "knocked for a loop" by COVID-19 and other complications including delays in release of insurance funds and trouble with vendors.

"Mr. D’Antona has every intent on rehabilitating this building," she wrote in a November 2020 letter to Wehrheim that anticipated speedy completion of repairs, along with a new second story in "anticipation of the sewer system." She had not been in regular contact with D’Antona in almost two years, she said in an interview. A contractor on the project told a town inspector last May that structural steel had been ordered and building would start within weeks, but later inspections found no work had been started.

Tony Tanzi, Kings Park Chamber of Commerce president and a landlord who rents space to D’Antona for the Kings Park facility, said he was not familiar with the specifics of the rebuilding effort but that COVID had complicated many construction projects. "Finding a contractor is next to impossible and construction cost has literally skyrocketed."

Wastewater restrictions on the septic systems now in use on most of the business and residential parcels in the area have for decades throttled development in downtown Kings Park, where the vacancy rate is now about 12%. The 1.5-mile sewer line planned for Main Street and two nearby roads would allow for denser development and expansion of area restaurants.

Only 175 voters who live in the area are eligible to vote in the referendum, to be held at R.J.O Intermediate School. If they approve expansion, users would pay charges estimated at $192 a year for planning and design costs not covered by the state grant and a user charge estimated at $350 in 2026.

'Structurally unsafe'

Town hearing Dec. 14 to consider entry onto 57 Main St. to remediate or remove the structure

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