The Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency voted to seize North Fork Express to...

The Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency voted to seize North Fork Express to make way for part of a $800 million housing and business complex. Credit: James Carbone

A Brookhaven Town economic development board Wednesday approved condemnation of a Ronkonkoma bus depot to make way for the second phase of the $800 million Ronkonkoma Hub housing and commercial project. 

The Brookhaven Town Industrial Development Agency board voted 5-0 to take by eminent domain a 2.2-acre Hawkins Avenue property owned by North Fork Express, a charter and school bus company located in the middle of the development under construction by East Setauket-based Tritec Real Estate.

Acquiring the bus depot land was "critical" to completing the project's second phase, Tritec principal Jim Coughlan told Newsday in an email. Phase two calls for about 550 residential units, 74,380 square feet of retail such as shops and restaurants, 16,000 square feet of office space and a village square.

"We continue to negotiate with [other] property owners to purchase property for future phases," Coughlan said. It may take up to a decade to complete the project, Tritec officials had said previously. 

North Fork Express, which had declined to sell the property, will receive financial compensation to be decided in a separate process.

Company president Gregory Mensch told Newsday it was a "sad day" for him and the company's 100 employees.

“They’re not putting a hospital there, they’re not putting a school there, they’re not putting a road there,” Mensch said. “We’re going to take this all the way to the end. ... I’m a taxpayer. I pay my taxes. They don’t give me tax breaks.”

The hub, approved by Brookhaven officials about a decade ago, has been touted as a transformational project that would revitalize a blighted area on the north side of the Long Island Rail Road tracks near the Ronkonkoma train station. It has received backing from many Ronkonkoma civic and business leaders. 

Some IDA board members said Wednesday they supported the condemnation after agency officials had tried unsuccessfully to help North Fork Express find a new site for the business.

“I’m not a big fan or a big advocate for condemnation," board member Felix Grucci said. "But I think in this case the IDA has worked very closely with Mr. Mensch. ... I think we've exhausted all of our avenues.”

Tritec and Brookhaven officials have said the hub would create at least 10,000 jobs and inject billions of dollars in new revenue into the region. Construction of phase one, including 489 luxury apartments, was finished two years ago.

Overall, the hub is expected to have up to 1,450 residential units, 360,000 square feet of office space and 195,000 square feet of retail.

The IDA's eminent domain decision is final and cannot be appealed, officials said.

The town is expected to prepare an appraisal of the bus property and make a compensation offer to the company, said Jennifer Polovetsky, a Manhattan lawyer representing North Fork Express. Mensch could challenge the town's offer in State Supreme Court in Riverhead and seek additional compensation, she said.

Polovetsky said she hopes to negotiate a compensation deal with IDA officials in lieu of condemnation “to save everybody time and money” and avoid going to court. 

A Brookhaven Town economic development board Wednesday approved condemnation of a Ronkonkoma bus depot to make way for the second phase of the $800 million Ronkonkoma Hub housing and commercial project. 

The Brookhaven Town Industrial Development Agency board voted 5-0 to take by eminent domain a 2.2-acre Hawkins Avenue property owned by North Fork Express, a charter and school bus company located in the middle of the development under construction by East Setauket-based Tritec Real Estate.

Acquiring the bus depot land was "critical" to completing the project's second phase, Tritec principal Jim Coughlan told Newsday in an email. Phase two calls for about 550 residential units, 74,380 square feet of retail such as shops and restaurants, 16,000 square feet of office space and a village square.

"We continue to negotiate with [other] property owners to purchase property for future phases," Coughlan said. It may take up to a decade to complete the project, Tritec officials had said previously. 

North Fork Express, which had declined to sell the property, will receive financial compensation to be decided in a separate process.

Company president Gregory Mensch told Newsday it was a "sad day" for him and the company's 100 employees.

“They’re not putting a hospital there, they’re not putting a school there, they’re not putting a road there,” Mensch said. “We’re going to take this all the way to the end. ... I’m a taxpayer. I pay my taxes. They don’t give me tax breaks.”

The hub, approved by Brookhaven officials about a decade ago, has been touted as a transformational project that would revitalize a blighted area on the north side of the Long Island Rail Road tracks near the Ronkonkoma train station. It has received backing from many Ronkonkoma civic and business leaders. 

Some IDA board members said Wednesday they supported the condemnation after agency officials had tried unsuccessfully to help North Fork Express find a new site for the business.

“I’m not a big fan or a big advocate for condemnation," board member Felix Grucci said. "But I think in this case the IDA has worked very closely with Mr. Mensch. ... I think we've exhausted all of our avenues.”

Tritec and Brookhaven officials have said the hub would create at least 10,000 jobs and inject billions of dollars in new revenue into the region. Construction of phase one, including 489 luxury apartments, was finished two years ago.

Overall, the hub is expected to have up to 1,450 residential units, 360,000 square feet of office space and 195,000 square feet of retail.

The IDA's eminent domain decision is final and cannot be appealed, officials said.

The town is expected to prepare an appraisal of the bus property and make a compensation offer to the company, said Jennifer Polovetsky, a Manhattan lawyer representing North Fork Express. Mensch could challenge the town's offer in State Supreme Court in Riverhead and seek additional compensation, she said.

Polovetsky said she hopes to negotiate a compensation deal with IDA officials in lieu of condemnation “to save everybody time and money” and avoid going to court. 

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