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Settlement in sight for Freeport bank building lawsuit

Freeport is close to settling a 6-year-old lawsuit concerning the Plaza West building on Sunrise Highway -- a move village leaders say will allow them to sell the long-vacant property.

The six-story bank building built in 1929 -- the tallest building in Nassau and Suffolk counties in its early days -- has sat vacant since the early 1980s.

The village wants to sell the building but has been in court with developer Time Equities Inc., which at one point was slated to turn the building into apartments, Mayor Robert Kennedy said. The lawsuit stems from the village's termination of Time Equities' contract to redevelop the building, he said.

But the village and the Manhattan developer have reached a settlement, and the 17,000-square-foot property is expected to go on the market by the end of the month, Kennedy said.

Kennedy speculated that the property is worth between $3 million and $5 million. It is owned jointly by the village and the Freeport Community Development Agency, village attorney Howard Colton said.

"It's a great accomplishment by the village to get this property on the market," Kennedy said.

Village officials declined to disclose the terms of the settlement because the courts still need to sign off on the terms. Time Equities attorney Philip Brody did not return calls for comment.

The village and its CDA will split proceeds from the eventual sale, Colton said.

The Plaza West building, which is encircled by scaffolding and pockmarked by boarded-up windows, sits just south of Freeport's train station. The agency purchased the building for $690,000 in 1991, Freeport Historical Society documents state.

The village's historical society describes it as an "Art Deco flatiron-style bank." It originally housed First National Bank, and then a succession of other banks.

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