Suffolk OTB officials are close to selling the Medford property where they had planned to build a controversial video lottery casino before moving the project to Islandia.
In papers filed with the federal Bankruptcy Court in Brooklyn, a lawyer for Suffolk County Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. said the agency expects to sell the 32-acre property to an unidentified car dealership for more than the $10.95 million it paid for the parcel in 2014.
Suffolk OTB president Phil Nolan declined to comment on Monday.
The property’s sale would formally end a controversy that had roiled Medford since OTB officials announced plans to build a $65 million casino with 1,000 video lottery terminals at the site.
OTB had bought the vacant property — formerly the Brookhaven Multiplex on the Long Island Expressway South Service Road, east of Route 112 — with plans to build a 96,000-square-foot betting parlor and horse racing simulcast facility.
OTB and Brookhaven Town officials spent a year in 2015 wrangling over whether the town had any role in approving the casino. Many Medford residents opposed the plan, citing concerns over traffic, crime and the facility’s impact on property values.
The casino proposal was withdrawn earlier this year as OTB sought alternative locations. In August, the Village of Islandia approved an OTB casino to be built in the Islandia Marriott Long Island hotel.
The Medford property’s sale was disclosed in a Sept. 29 letter to U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Carla E. Craig from Christopher F. Graham, an attorney representing OTB in its bankruptcy proceedings.
In the letter, Graham said OTB “is close to a deal to sell the land to an unrelated auto dealership for more than it paid to purchase the parcel.” The prospective purchaser is believed to be an online car dealer, though the potential buyer’s plans are not clear.
Brookhaven Town Planning Director Tullio Bertoli said Monday that he had held preliminary meetings with representatives of the potential buyer. He could not identify the company.
He said those discussions focused on the approvals the company would need to build on the site. The site is zoned for commercial recreation; he said he was not sure whether that zoning would allow the car business.
Brett Houdek, president of the Medford Taxpayers and Civic Association, which had opposed the casino plan, said the group would support “multifamily residential or office space” at the site. The civic group probably would accept the car dealership plan, but not if the buyer plans to store automobiles on the property, he said.
“If the car place is strictly office and it’s all online, that’s one thing,” Houdek said. “If it’s a car lot, that’s a different story.”