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Hotel, apartments proposed for vacant Freeport site

Freeport is close to an agreement with a

Freeport is close to an agreement with a Jericho developer to redevelop the long-vacant Plaza West Bank building, left, as a hotel and residences. The flatiron-style building on the site dates to the '20s and was once the tallest building on Long Island. Right, an artist's rendering of the proposed Plaza West Building in Freeport. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa, Rendering

A Jericho developer wants to build a hotel and apartment complex on the site of a former Freeport bank building that has been vacant since the early 1980s.

The Plaza West building, a six-story Art Deco structure on Sunrise Highway, was built in 1929 and was once the tallest structure in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Georgica Green Ventures has proposed redeveloping the property as a 120-room hotel and 180-unit mixed-income apartment complex with some commercial space, village officials said.

Freeport's board of trustees unanimously voted 5-0 Monday night to authorize a special counsel to the village to start contract negotiations with Georgica Green. The negotiations are to be completed in 30 days, according to project documents.

Village officials touted the proposal as a chance to revitalize one of its oldest eyesores and create a mass-transit-friendly development near downtown.

"It's going to be a mixed-used development, and it's going to create a lot of jobs," said G. Dewey Smalls, a member of the Freeport Community Development Agency, which owns the property jointly with the village.

Village officials and David Gallo, president of Georgica Green, declined to comment on a possible price for the property.

Georgica Green has completed several projects on Long Island, including the $25 million rehabilitation of the Spinney Hill Homes apartments in Great Neck, which was finished in 2010.

Gallo said the property's location will give residents and visitors easy access to mass transit as well as Freeport's Nautical Mile and Long Island beaches. The boarded-up bank building is south of the Freeport train station.

"This is a great opportunity to deliver much-needed mixed-income housing and commercial space," Gallo said.

Georgica Green hopes to retain the six-story Plaza West building when it redevelops the site, but has not committed to preserving it, village officials said.

The village and developer should work together to "create a design that establishes the right kind of relationship with the existing building," said Alexandra Wolfe, director of the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities.

"You don't want to steal the thunder of the existing structure," Wolfe said. "Do something exciting around it. Use it as an inspiration."

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