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Developer abandons plans for Smithtown apartment complex

Vincent J. Trimarco Sr., a Smithtown-based attorney representing

Vincent J. Trimarco Sr., a Smithtown-based attorney representing Home Properties, speaks at a Smithtown Planning Board meeting about his client's change of zone request to build a four-story, 260 unit apartment complex on Middle Country Road at the site of a Smithtown concrete manufacturing company. June 18, 2014. Credit: Newsday / Lauren R. Harrison

Plans for a proposed 260-unit, four-story apartment development to replace a Smithtown concrete-manufacturing company have been scrapped.

Home Properties Inc., headquartered in Rochester, will not move forward with its application to change the zoning on the Smithtown Concrete Products Corp. property, at 441 Middle Country Rd., from light industry to garden apartment, officials said.

Home Properties announced to investors in late July that it "is exiting the new development business and is not going forward with the Smithtown project," Don Hague, the company's senior vice president of development, said last week.

Home Properties -- among the largest owners of apartments on Long Island, with 3,586 apartment units in 14 communities, including Sayville Commons in Sayville and Devonshire Hills in Hauppauge -- did not file paperwork indicating it was pulling the proposal, town planning officials said.

David Flynn, town assistant planning director, said the zone change petition "stays active until the board makes a decision or the petitioner withdraws it."

Smithtown Concrete co-owner Neal Spevack, 62, of Village of the Branch, said he was disappointed the deal fell through, but his broker is entertaining other potential buyers. He declined to share the sale price but noted that the ultimate use of the property will require a zone change and be subject to public scrutiny.

"Even after I sign a physical contract with any prospective buyer . . . The town takes a long time to approve these things," Spevack said. "The list of things we have to do to try to get a zoning change is the same no matter who the buyer is."

Home Properties planned to build one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments with monthly rents estimated at $1,900 to $3,500, along with more than 500 parking spaces, a clubhouse, fitness room and pool.

Dozens of residents attended a public hearing on the zone change in June, with many citing concerns about traffic, the project's scale and safety.

Flynn said the site is "a fair property" to consider for apartments because the current use is "not attractive," it's on a main highway and is not near critical environmental resources. But he said the location is "not close to a downtown where people could create a synergy with the businesses, so that makes it not ideal."

Still, apartments are among the most in-demand development, Flynn said, adding that "it's hard to keep Long Island competitive without housing for young people."Spevack, whose grandfather started the business in 1940, said he feels a personal responsibility to make sure the development is acceptable to all parties involved.

"I would love to make this scenario so that it conforms in a way where the Town of Smithtown as a whole, both the governance and the residents, feel comfortable, while benefiting me," he said.

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