A deal is in the works to bring electric carmaker Tesla Motors to the Town of Smithtown.
The dealership would open at Route 347 and Hillside Avenue in Nesconset on the long-vacant former site of Sixth Avenue Electronics, according to a zoning application submitted to the town Planning Department.
Tim Ziss, a principal in Brooklyn-based Allied Properties, would develop the 5.4-acre site through a limited liability company, 1000 Nesconset, said Ziss’ attorney, Vincent Trimarco Sr.
“That property has been a bummer of a piece of property for years and years,” Trimarco said. “Finally my client stepped up to the plate and bought it. He’s going to be remodeling and doing everything necessary to make it a beautiful place.”
Tesla officials did not respond to email requests for comment.
The $700,000 project would occupy a location near residences to the east and, to the south on Jericho Turnpike, a string of dealerships and other automotive businesses. Town Councilman Tom McCarthy, a former auto dealer, called that stretch one of the busiest markets on Long Island, with more than a dozen new car dealerships over 2 miles.
“I’m ecstatic, as is Supervisor [Ed] Wehrheim, that Tesla is interested in doing business in the town,” McCarthy said. He said he expected to see “a major rebuild” in coming months of the site, which he said had been vacant for about 10 years.
1000 Nesconset officials are requesting a change of zone from central business to wholesale service industry. The Planning Board is to hold a Jan. 31 hearing on the proposed change.
Palo Alto, California-based Tesla offers four models for sale or reservation on its website, including the Model S, which sells for about $70,000, and a $200,000 Roadster with a top speed of more than 250 mph and a range of 620 miles.
Tesla also sells a more affordable Model 3 for about $35,000. While the company has taken more than 400,000 reservations from customers who want to buy the car, production of the model has been slower than anticipated.
Tesla has seven locations in New York State, including three on Long Island. A Manhasset location offers sales and service, while “galleries” in East Hampton and Huntington Station are only for viewing vehicles.
Tesla has already met its cap under state law of five sales facilities, but a bill to expand that number was introduced in the legislature this month.
A document filed with 1000 Nesconset’s application mentions that the facility would generate solid waste typically associated with “auto sales and repairs” minus motor oil, since Tesla’s electric motors don’t use it.
The Nesconset location would give Tesla a visible presence in an affluent market: Smithtown’s median household income is $114,872, above the median for Suffolk or Nassau County. Dealerships for BMW, Mercedes and Lexus operate nearby.
It also comes at a delicate time for the electric vehicle market with some federal tax credits for electric vehicles due to expire this year.
Sales of electric vehicles still comprise a small portion of overall U.S. auto sales, but are expected to reach 1.7 percent of total car sales in 2018, according to Edmunds.com. If Tesla ramps up Model 3 production to full speed by May, Edmunds analysts predict it will unseat the Toyota Prius as the best-selling “green” vehicle with 180,000 cars sold.
There were about 20,000 electric vehicles in New York State last year, with Long Island making up about a third of the market, an electric vehicle market expert told LIPA officials in 2017. There were about 1,250 Teslas registered on the Island as of March 2017, according to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.
At least 112 charging stations dot Long Island, with more planned. The state is to nearly double its network of chargers from 1,600 to 3,000 by the end of 2018 and spend $1 billion on chargers by 2025, said Brian Jones, senior vice president of MJ Bradley & Associates, a Concord, Massachusetts, consulting firm.
With David Reich-Hale