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Melville firm wants Riverhead to ditch EPCAL deal, accept its $50M offer for solar farm

Luminati Aerospace LLC, a Calverton startup at EPCAL's

Luminati Aerospace LLC, a Calverton startup at EPCAL's Plant 6 in Calverton, on June 16, 2017. Credit: Randee Daddona

A Melville company has asked Riverhead officials to consider its proposal to build a solar power facility at EPCAL for $50 million, instead of proceeding with a $40 million land deal that is already under contract. 

Haugland Group LLC, an infrastructure services holding company, submitted a letter to officials at Riverhead Town Hall dated June 25 that proposed building a 100-megawatt solar and storage generation facility at the Enterprise Park at Calverton. The solar facility — which the company would pay Riverhead $50 million to build on 500 acres at the property and utilize the 7,000-foot runway and an adjacent 275 acres — would replace the town's deal with the Calverton Aviation and Technology venture group.

In 2014, Haugland Group submitted a proposal to Riverhead calling for the construction of a 700-acre solar farm on the EPCAL site. Though it did not proceed because of what project representatives said was a lack of interest from former Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter, the company maintained its interest and has “continued to monitor the situation,” said Anastasia M. Song, director of Haugland Group. 

Jack O’Connor, executive managing director of the Melville branch of commercial real estate advisory firm Newmark Knight Frank — who is representing Haugland and submitted the proposal on the company's behalf — wrote in a separate letter also dated June 25 that the company decided to resubmit the proposal after learning that Luminati Aerospace LLC, a co-partner in the venture group with developer Triple Five Group of Edmonton, Canada, decided in April to relocate to Little Falls in upstate New York. Luminati had been evicted from the building it leased at the EPCAL site after failing to pay rent to Laoudis of Calverton LLC, the property landlord.

O'Connor wrote that because of questions about Luminati's current involvement in the pending contract, "it may be that the entire contract is null and void." 

In Haugland's letter, Song said the company would be able to commence work on closing the transaction by the end of 2019 if town officials considered their proposal. Song added the company could fund the facility “immediately,” as the offer does not rely on external financing.

“Under our proposal, Riverhead would retain its highly desirable land with fronting on major roadways that would allow future subdivision and development for the benefit of the town,” Song stated.

Amy Herbold, director of development for Triple Five, said in a statement Sunday that Triple Five would be meeting with town officials “very soon to discuss our plans to redevelop the site.”

“We are diligently pursuing all of our obligations under the contract and trust that the town is doing the same. At this point, any efforts to replace CAT with another purchaser would be an interference of our rights under the contract with the town,” Herbold said.

Town officials said Thursday that they still plan to move ahead with the deal from Calverton Aviation and Technology. The venture group has agreed to purchase 1,600 acres of the 2,900-acre EPCAL property to expand Luminati's operations.

The Riverhead Town Board voted 3-2 in November to go ahead with the venture group’s proposal. Local civic groups and environmental advocates have opposed the deal, citing concerns and questions about whether the venture group is financially capable of following through on its plans, and whether those plans would negatively affect the property.

Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said Thursday that Frank Isler, the attorney that Riverhead has contracted in the deal, sent out a letter to the venture group last Monday asking representatives to “come in and give us an update of what is going on and make a presentation to the town board.”

Jens-Smith said she is hopeful the venture group will respond in the next few days to set up a possible July meeting.

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