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Scaled-down condo plan proposed on Oheka Castle property

An artist rendering of a proposed condo development

An artist rendering of a proposed condo development on the grounds of Oheka Castle in Huntington. Credit: BHC Architects

Developers have proposed a scaled-down version of a condo project on the Oheka Castle property in Huntington.

A public hearing will be held Sept. 15 to consider revoking the covenants and restrictions previously placed on the Oheka Castle property and a neighboring parcel owned by a country club to make way for a revised proposal of 90 condominiums. 

A 190-unit senior community, in development since 2012, was previously proposed for part of the Oheka property and a parcel owned by the Cold Spring Hills Country Club, but that deal fell through. The covenants and restrictions touched on preserving the club’s golf course and on traffic signals and a sewer system.

Oheka Castle, purchased by Gary Melius in 1984, is the former Otto Kahn estate, considered the grandest of Gold Coast estates and at one time the second-largest residence in America. Melius transformed it into a catering hall and hotel.

The castle is in receivership, according to court documents, under which a neutral party is appointed to manage business operations.

Huntington-based Kahn Property Owner LLC, the entity that owns the castle, submitted the application to the town earlier this year, according to town documents. The new application includes rescinding the previous covenants and restrictions. The new plan does not include the country club.

The design of the development remains the same, with a four-story stone building and parking underneath, town officials said. But the structure will be closer to the castle. Traffic flow and sewage treatment have not yet been determined, officials said.

The first application sought to connect to the Nassau County sewer system, but an on-site sewage treatment plant may be considered based on the size of the newer proposal, town officials said. Suffolk County Department of Health Services would have to approve such a plan, officials said.

Town board member Gene Cook, who sponsored the public hearing resolution, said it’s an opportunity to move forward on a project that can stimulate the economy.

“We’re in a pandemic, a time that’s concerning for everyone especially economically,” Cook said. “The jobs this project will put together are huge.”

The covenants and restrictions were placed on the parcels in 2012 as part of the Residence-Open Space Cluster District, which was designed to preserve open space in the town while also allowing development.  

The castle is also included in the town’s historic building overlay district, which allows the town board to consider uses for historic buildings other than what's allowed under current zoning. Oheka Castle was the first building to use the new classification when it was created in 1996, town officials said.

 “This is to get the public’s input on the reordering of the application,” Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci, co-sponsor of the public hearing resolution, said.

The hearing will be held during the regular town board's virtual meeting at 7 p.m.

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