Yankee Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera is making a new pitch — for a Port Jefferson Station auto dealership.
Rivera, the first player unanimously elected to Cooperstown, and his business partners are planning to buy a Route 112 car store and rename it Mariano Rivera Honda, his attorney, Donald J. King of Kings Park, said in an interview. Major League Baseball's all-time saves leader already owns a Toyota dealership that bears his name in Mount Kisco, in Westchester County.
It won't be the strike zone but zoning laws that Rivera will face when he seeks approvals from the Town of Brookhaven. King said he expects Rivera to appear at Town Hall in Farmingville to help sell the project.
Rivera was known during his 19-year career as one of the most formidable relief pitchers in baseball history. Relying on a nearly unhittable cut fastball, he blew only 80 saves in 732 chances.
“His partnership came to me and they hired me to get this change of zone application to get this enhanced or enlarged building on this site,” King said. “I’m sure at the hearing, he'll be there.”
Brookhaven officials have held informal discussions with Rivera's representatives, but the plan has not been formally submitted to the town, and no hearings have been scheduled, a town spokesman said.
King said he is planning to meet with Councilwoman Valerie Cartright, who represents Port Jefferson Station on the town board. An aide to Cartright said she was aware of Rivera's proposal and planned to discuss it with town officials and Port Jefferson Station community leaders.
The property had been eyed in 2011 by developer James Tsunis, who proposed a 96-unit apartment complex. At the time, the car dealership was vacant and had been included in Brookhaven's "Blight to Light" program to redevelop abandoned properties.
Tsunis' proposal received some preliminary approvals but was not completed.
Edward Garboski, vice president of the Port Jefferson Station-Terryville Civic Association, said Rivera's plan probably would not receive significant opposition from residents, although he cautioned views might change "depending on the size of the project."
“I don't think it would be a problem," Garboski said. "They would be happy that they got a car dealership back, instead of an apartment complex.”
The 8.1-acre site, at 1435 Route 112, includes a 6,425-square-foot building, according to a site plan prepared for Rivera by Cataldo Grasso Architects of Smithtown.
Rivera wants to expand the existing building by about 33 percent, build a new 50,533-square-foot sales and service facility, and create storage space for about 353 vehicles, according to the plan.
Garboski said the proposal probably would be acceptable to civic members “as long as it would be something that was not obtrusive or disgusting-looking. Right now they have a nice-looking building there.”
Rivera, 49, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame later this year, retired in 2013 with a record 652 saves, an 82-60 win-loss record, 2.21 earned run average and five World Series titles.
Garboski, a Yankee fan, said he is rooting for Rivera to seal one more victory.
“He can close a baseball game," Garboski said. "Let’s see if he can close the deal.”