The Riverhead Town Board has postponed a key Jan. 17 hearing on the proposed $40 million EPCAL land deal because of concerns over changes involving a new partner in the proposal.
Town Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said on Thursday that she was notified Wednesday, a day before the board’s work session, that Triple Five Ventures Co. LLC, which announced it had partnered in December with Luminati Aerospace to purchase the Calverton property, was no longer involved in the deal.
A new entity, Triple Five Real Estate One LLC, would replace it.
Frank Isler, the Riverhead attorney assisting the town in the deal, told the board the actual principals in the deal who would be signing the EPCAL contract on behalf of Triple Five Real Estate One LLC are Syd and John Richard Ghermezian. They are part of the Ghermezian family that owns Edmonton, Alberta-based development firm Triple Five Worldwide Group, which owns the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.
On Jan. 17, there was originally supposed to be a qualified and eligible hearing, at which Syd and John Ghermezian were to provide the board with the enterprise’s assets as evidence that Triple Five Real Estate One can financially back the project, Isler said. Board members had said they would likely approve the deal if they were satisfied with what they were told at the hearing.
However, the change in partner companies had board members concerned.
“We’ve had no chance to even find out any information at all, and even for the town board to schedule the [hearing], there’s a certain amount of vetting the board needs to feel comfortable enough with to even go to the qualified and eligible [hearing],” Jens-Smith said at the work session.
Councilwoman Jodi Giglio echoed those concerns.
“We know the track record [of Triple Five Ventures],” Giglio said. “We know what they’re capable of building . . . the new entity could be completely inexperienced people when it comes to industrial development.”
Councilman Tim Hubbard said he was in favor of postponing the hearing to have more time to learn about the deal’s new principals. Councilwoman Catherine Kent agreed, saying there had been “a lot of concerns regarding transparency” with the EPCAL deal and “we need proper time to do our due diligence.”
Jens-Smith said no date has been determined for the next hearing, but that an announcement informing the public will be sent out in advance.
Duane Morris LLP, the Manhattan-based law firm representing Luminati Aerospace, did not respond to requests for comment.