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Huntington Station revitalization worries after developer sues partner

The Renaissance Downtowns chief executive said the plans would not be derailed, but community leaders and a town board member say they remain concerned.

Rendering of a proposed boutique hotel and office

Rendering of a proposed boutique hotel and office space at southwest corner of Railroad Street and New York Avenue in Huntington Station, part of several revitalization projects. Photo Credit: Renaissance Downtowns

Proponents of Huntington Station's revitalization efforts worry lawsuits and disputes between development partners RXR Realty and Renaissance Downtowns will derail long-term plans for the hamlet.

Plainview-based Renaissance is in a 50/50 partnership with Uniondale-based RXR Realty in revamping Huntington Station with plans that include a hotel and the Gateway Plaza mixed-use building at 1000 New York Ave., as well as artist lofts and gallery space along New York Avenue. 

But on Sept. 5, RXR filed a lawsuit against Renaissance in Nassau Supreme Court alleging the company had misused funding in its two joint redevelopment projects in Huntington Station and Hempstead Village, where the firms have been operating as a single entity, RDRXR LLC , according to court documents.

Ryan Porter, co-chief executive and president of Renaissance Downtowns, said he could not comment on the lawsuit but vowed the Huntington Station projects would continue as planned.

"Renaissance has no plans to allow anything to delay the revitalization of Huntington Station," Porter said.

RXR Realty representatives declined to comment.

Town board member Ed Smyth said officials were in "a wait and see mode" on how the lawsuit will affect the Huntington Station plans, but he had lost faith in Renaissance. Smyth has been critical of the Renaissance land transfer plan for the Gateway Plaza development that he has said was a "giveaway" and not based on current market value.

Town officials in 2011 selected Renaissance to be the master developer for Huntington Station, with a Community Benefits Agreement outlining how fees generated from the project would be used for local initiatives such as youth programs, educational efforts and job growth opportunities.

The plans for Gateway Plaza, the project's anchor development being built by G2D Development, call for a 61,000-square-foot mixed-use building with 45 one-bedroom, 11 studio and 10 two-bedroom apartments. Developers also have proposed about 13,500 square feet of ground floor retail, restaurant and commercial office space and associated parking. 

"Our community has invested a lot of hope into getting this project done and we’re hopeful it doesn’t affect them," said Xavier Palacios, an attorney and Huntington school board member who was on the committee that drafted the community benefits agreement with Renaissance. "We’re certainly skeptical."

Palacios said the town should have Renaissance hold a public meeting to answer questions and reassure the community.

The lawsuit may ultimately have little or no effect on Huntington Station's plans because RXR is not building any of the projects there, Smyth said. “The only impact the dispute would have is if RXR was going to be the builder on those projects," he said.

But the lawsuit remains a cause for concern and "shines a light on Renaissance and whether or not their business practices are something the town wants to see themselves doing business with," Smyth added.

"The whole Renaissance and Huntington Station thing didn’t smell right and still doesn’t," he said. "I think there's a problem with the whole master planner."

Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci declined to comment.

RXR lawsuit allegations

Renaissance "incurred expenses and/or spent company funds totaling in excess of $2.1 million" as of October 2017 "without RXR's knowledge or consent," RXR alleges in the lawsuit filed Sept. 5.

Additionally, Renaissance has increased its "improper and unauthorized expenditures by more than $1 million" to date, according to court filings.

RXR is seeking at least $9 million in damages.

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