I received a telephone call from Mr Breslin today, only hours after sending him an email version of the letter below. As I suspected, he did not recall getting my June 5th email — he is usually very responsive and insists that his staff be so as well. He confirmed that he and his partner, Fred Colin, who co-own the western portion of the Kmart parcel, did indeed allow the purchase offer from Suffolk County to expire without comment. Although he would not state the precise amount offered by the county (which is dictated by an independent appraisal process) he did acknowledge that he and his partner agreed it was absurdly low. Mr. Breslin did have some good news though, and said he would be submitting new development plans to the Town of Brookhaven soon, sometime within the next 90 to 120 days. He did not want to give any details about these plans, but acknowledged they would contain a housing component. I mentioned that they would likely need to include a substantial public amenity such as a park and sports fields. I also asked him to consider visiting Middle Island in person soon, so he could see first hand some of the high quality projects completed in our community, such as the transformed Longwood Public Library and the Renaissance Village at Sandy Hills. He agreed to keep in touch with me about this.
Suffolk County recently made a formal offer to purchase the 21-acre southwestern property. This offer was based on two independent and confidential appraisals authorized by the SC Legislature. The decision rested with the owners, Wilbur Breslin and Fred Colin, whether to accept the offer or not. Right now we’re at a stand still, waiting for owners Wilbur Breslin and Fred Colin to make their next moves. These owners allowed Suffolk County’s fair market purchase offer to expire without comment. We think they want to hear what New York State wants to offer for the large northern wooded section before committing to selling, but that appraisal has yet to happen. Meanwhile, the Town of Brookhaven is in talks with Breslin to redevelop the eastern 18 acres he owns alone — where the old Kmart building was. But we have yet to see any actual plans for that parcel, and we’ve been waiting for three years for those!
As mentioned at the March 28 civic meeting, the SC Legislature approved the motion to make a formal offer for the 21 acres owned by Wilbur Breslin and Fred Colin. This is the next in a series of steps toward making our Field of Dreams Park a reality. Many thanks to those who sent emails of support to Legislator Anker’s Office — they worked!MICA President Gail Lynch-Bailey’s remarks to the SC Legislature:“On behalf of the Middle island Civic Association and The Longwood Alliance, I am here to express support of the Procedural Motion 3. If adopted, this would allow an offer of the real property value, as determined by two appraisals and the Environmental Trust Review Board, to then be made to the property owners Wilbur Breslin and Fred Colin.
The property is the 21 acre southwestern section of the parcel commonly known as the old Kmart. That building is gone, but the blight continues. This huge empty tract is a sea of crumbling asphalt sitting on the north side of Middle Country Road. Thousands of people live opposite it at Artist Lake, and even more pass it each day along our Main Street corridor. It has been sucking the life out of our community for more than a decade.
Today you can take the next important step in ending this blight for good.
Now we have a wonderful opportunity to create a beautiful park at that site, a great green space that will last longer than a decade. Our Field of Dreams Park will serve generations to come. It will provide playing fields for our Longwood Youth Sports Association and include amenities for all ages, including walking trails, a playground and a scenic overview of Artist Lake. We are working on an amazing plan for this space, and we are eager to emulate the public/private partnership with Suffolk County and the Town of Brookhaven that has proven so successful at Mt Sinai’s Heritage Park.
The support for this type of park in Middle Island is overwhelming and widespread. I know that Legislator Anker has received many emails of support, including that of the Coram Civic Association. Families with children and senior citizens alike are all thrilled by the prospect of transforming an ugly eyesore into a mini Central Park, right in their own backyards. Please pass this motion and join me in praying the offer is accepted by the owners. While I understand the need for the confidentiality surrounding this offer, I sincerely hope it’s an offer they can’t refuse! Thank You.”
HAUPPAUGE, NY – At the General Legislature Meeting on Tuesday, March 28th, the Suffolk County Legislature approved a Procedural Motion to pursue the acquisition of the blighted old Kmart property in Middle Island. With this approval, an offer of the real property value will be made to the property owner to acquire 21 acres that sit along Middle Country Road. The real property value is determined by two simultaneous appraisals and by the Suffolk County Environmental Trust Review Board. Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker has made it her priority to move this acquisition through the county process with the hopes of turning the parcel into an active park with ballfields.
“I am thrilled to be leading the effort to transform this blighted property into a beautiful community park, which will provide a place for the Longwood Youth Sports Association kids to play ball, as well as create an open green space for all residents to enjoy,” said Legislator Anker. “This project is a win-win for all involved and I look forward to working with the community to create their field of dreams on this parcel.”
The county will submit the offer to the property owner. If the owner accepts, Suffolk County will obtain an Environmental Site Assessment survey which will be reviewed by the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to ensure the site is environmentally sound. Following review and pending approval by CEQ, Legislator Anker will put forth a resolution to purchase the property which will go to the full Legislature for a vote. For more information, please contact Legislator Anker’s office at 631-854-1600.
Picture Caption: Conceptual design for Middle Island’s Field of Dreams Park. This design is subject to change as project moves forward and after community visioning. In addition to sports fields and ample parking, this concept includes a playground, two raised gazebo/gathering areas offering views of Artist Lake, a walking path around the fields and many other potential amenities.
Suffolk Legislature to vote on bid to buy Middle Island property
A contractor begins the demolition of the long vacant Kmart building located at 1075 Middle Country Rd. in Middle Island, April 5, 2016. Suffolk lawmakers are set to vote on the sale of the property Tuesday, March 28, 2017. Photo Credit: Ed Betz
Plan is to convert former shopping center into park, athletic fields
County would buy 21 acres; developer would keep 26 acres
Suffolk County lawmakers plan to vote Tuesday on a bid to buy a 21-acre property in Middle Island where a shopping center was demolished last year.
The county’s bid to buy the land from Garden City-based developer Wilbur Breslin is part of a plan by Suffolk and Brookhaven Town officials to build a park at the Middle Country Road site, and develop athletic fields there for youth sports leagues, officials said.
Under the plan, the county would buy about one-third of a 75-acre parcel where an abandoned Kmart was torn down last year. Breslin paid for the demolition, which took place days after the body of a gunshot victim was found in a nearby wooded area.
Legis. Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said the park would transform “a commercial, blighted parcel into a community park that will benefit everyone — especially the children.”
Anker said she could not disclose the proposed purchase price. Breslin did not respond to a request for comment.
In addition to the county buying 21 acres, the state would purchase 28 acres of land for open space preservation, and Breslin would keep the remaining 26 acres for development, Anker said.
Middle Island Civic Association president Gail Lynch-Bailey said residents had long complained about the vacant store, which had been empty for a decade before it was demolished.
“It’s so important to have something positive on this long-blighted parcel,” she said. “To have blight there is just awful.”
The park plan is modeled on an earlier effort to build Heritage Park in Mount Sinai. In that case, the county bought the land and Brookhaven built a park managed by community leaders.
The park in Middle Island also would be built by the town, and it would be run by the Longwood Youth Sports Association, or LYSA, which organizes baseball, soccer and lacrosse leagues for more than 3,000 children in Middle Island, North Shirley, Ridge, Coram and Gordon Heights.
LYSA president Tom Bove said teams currently play on fields owned by the Longwood school district. LYSA teams can only play when the schools are not using them, he said.
“We have the largest sports youth club and no place to play other than school fields,” Bove said. “We’re trying to become totally independent of the school fields.”
Bove said the park also would have walking trails and a playground.
Lynch-Bailey said many residents would support Breslin if he decided to build new stores on the remaining 26 acres.
“There’s all sorts of wonderful possibilities for him on that parcel. We’re hoping he says this as a win-win for him and his partners,” Lynch-Bailey said. “It really could be a legacy for Wilbur Breslin in Middle Island.”
The lengthy appraisal processes are underway by both Suffolk County and NYS for acquisition of the southern and northern portions, respectively, of the 48+ acre parcel owned by Wilbur Breslin and Fred Colin. Breslin will retain the 18 acre eastern most site he independently owns and is in discussions with Councilman Loguercio and other TOB officials about a possible housing/retail project there. MICA, LYSA and other citizen groups have met with Leg Anker to discuss plans for the southern portion, which will be modeled after the very popular Heritage Park in Mount Sinai. Local landscape architect Gary Gentile and his employer, LK Mclean Associates, PC, have graciously agreed to donate a preliminary park design for use in gathering community input and support. We look forward to reviewing that professional concept plan very soon. The rough sketch below is a simple one based on early needs expressed by initial stakeholders.
The Suffolk County Legislature approved Legislator Sarah Anker’s Resolution 1757 on Septembe r8th, 2016, which authorizes the appraisal of the 21 acre southwestern portion of the old Kmart parcel on Middle Country Road in Middle Island. This means that a professional real estate appraiser will be hired by the County to determine the parcel’s fair market value, prior to Suffolk County making an offer to property owners Fred Colin and Wilbur Breslin. The vote was 17-0 in favor with Leg Lindsay an excused absentee.
Many thanks to the dozens of supporters who were able to attend the meeting’s Public Comment portion this afternoon in Riverhead. We had great representation from MICA, LYSA, MIFD, Birchwood at Spring Lake, City on a Hill Church, Longwood Central School District and more. And thanks, too, to those who were unable to attend but emailed their comments of support previously.
In addition to remarks by LYSA President Tom Bove and MICA Prez Gail Lynch-Bailey, MICA Treasurer Margaret Malloy gave an impassioned speech, which was a big hit with the Presiding Officer Dwayne Gregory as well as the cheering audience. Here it is for you to enjoy:
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak. I have been a resident of Middle Island for 31 years. When I first moved into my house, there was a horse farm where the King Kullen strip mall now exists. I used to cross-country ski down the north end of Wading River Hollow Road where there are now houses. I recall fox hunts on the south end of Wading River Hollow Road on Sunday mornings.
Although I realize that progress is necessary and welcome improvements to the area, over the years I have become increasingly dismayed at the lack of services and the sprawl in the surrounding area. We have seen many boarded up buildings along Route 25 running from Coram through Ridge. The Renaissance plan that was put together many years ago never came into full fruition. We have suffered with a boarded up gas station for over 10 years at the center of our town. A former restaurant (Island Squire) was an eyesore for 20 years and still shows signs of a depressed area although we are grateful that the main building was finally demolished. It was with great celebration we witnessed the demolition of the K Mart building after 10 years of driving past that eyesore and we thank Supervisor Romaine. Legislator Anker, Board Member Mike Loguercio, and Gail Bailey (President of MICA) for all of their efforts in making this happen. However, there are many vacant stores in the surrounding strip malls and you would be very hard pressed to find many upscale restaurants or a ball field where our local youth teams can play.
We watched as Heritage Park took off to the north of us and Wertheim Preserve blossomed with a new science center to the south. Shoreham is moving forward with a bike trail and the Tesla museum. Patchogue is becoming revitalized. It just appears that the “Middle of the Island” is left behind. Because we are not on the shores and do not have a strong lobby group, we are left without restaurants, walkable roads, family centered parks. The recent preserve in Ridge was a wonderful surprise and I’m sure will be an asset to the community. Fairfield taking over the old Tudor Oaks revitalized an area that someone driving through would have thought he/she was in a third-world country.
We need a place where young and old can congregate to see a ball game, grab a decent, healthy meal, go for a walk, or watch children and grandchildren frolic in a playground. We, in Middle Island and the surrounding towns, have endured so much blight and frustration over the past few years while we try to improve services and draw people to our town . I implore you to move forward with our “field of dreams” and help us to continue with the work we have done with a Community Garden, a veteran’s park, a walking trail, and business improvements. This is our chance to make the entrance to the Pine Barrens a place where people will want to shop, eat, and play.
Thank you, Margaret, and everyone for your continued support. We have taken that first important step in establishing our Field of Dreams Park!
On Monday, August 29, MICA President Gail Lynch-Bailey spoke in support of Introductory Resolutions 1756 and 1757 before the Suffolk County Legislature’s Environment, Planning and Agriculture Committee in Riverhead. Sponsored by Legislator Sarah Anker, these resolutions authorize the appraisal of land commonly known as the Old Kmart parcel, with the aim of acquiring this land for use as both passive and active parkland. LYSA Officer Paul Infranco also attended this hearing. Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine spoke in favor of these resolutions as well, pledging that if Suffolk County will buy the 48+ acres, the TOB will build a wonderful park on the southern 21 acres. Attendees were thrilled to learn that NY State has submitted a letter of interest in helping to purchase the northern 27 acres to be preserved as open space that can be used for hiking and walking. Given this newly expressed interest by NYS, Reso 1756 for the northern portion was tabled. Reso 1757 was passed unanimously and will now go to the full SC Legislature for approval on Wednesday, September 7! We will need many more supporters in attendance for this meeting, which will start at 4pm in Riverhead’s Griffing Building at 300 Center Drive. Please mark your calendars. Agenda details will be shared asap.
Spring Has Sprung: Real demo at KMart began Tuesday, April 5th, 2016, after a week of asbestos abatement AND the discovery of a dead body in the woods behind the vacant building on April 2nd. The man, identified as Alex Incorvia, age 26, was apparently shot to death sometime after Tuesday, March 29. Homicide detectives are investigating. The death and the demo are unrelated — except, perhaps, symbolically.
The Middle Island Civic Association worked with Brookhaven Town Council to get a long-closed Kmart, background, torn down. In front of sign, Gail Lynch-Bailey, president of the association, and Brookhaven Town Councilman Michael Loguercio. The group stood outside the store on March 19, 2016. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost
Former Middle Island Kmart to be demolished this spring
An abandoned Middle Island department store that has drawn complaints from neighbors and code violation citations from Brookhaven Town officials is expected to be demolished by its owner.
Crews hired by Garden City-based developer Wilbur Breslin are expected to begin tearing down the vacant Kmart store on Middle Country Road as soon as Monday, officials said. Town officials had threatened to raze the building if Breslin did not do so.
Breslin’s plans for the 75-acre site are unknown, but town officials and Middle Island residents said they’re just glad the deteriorating building finally will get torn down.
Gail Lynch-Bailey, president of the Middle Island Civic Association, called the shuttered store a “big hulking monstrosity” and “the biggest parcel of blight” in the middle-class community.
“It’s sad when you’re excited about something being demolished,” Lynch-Bailey said. “But we’re excited about something being demolished.”
Brookhaven Town Attorney Annette Eaderesto said Breslin had obtained demolition permits and agreed to tear down the store by May 31. An April 7 public hearing on the town’s demolition plans may be canceled if Breslin has begun razing the building by then, Eaderesto said.
A spokeswoman for Breslin confirmed on Friday that demolition would begin Monday. She declined to comment further.
The building has been unoccupied since the Kmart closed about a decade ago. Breslin had offered several plans to rebuild the property, but none materialized. Meanwhile, grass grew through cracks in the parking lot pavement and residents worried about squatters.
“Homeless people live in the back,” Lynch-Bailey said. “It’s covered with graffiti.”
Town officials have issued “20-some-odd” summonses for code violations, such as failure to maintain the property, Eaderesto said.
“It’s never secured,” she said. “No matter how many times it’s boarded up, it’s always broken into.”
An inspection last fall by town consultants Cashin, Spinelli and Ferretti of Hauppauge found that the store posed a health and safety hazard and recommended the building be torn down, Brookhaven officials said.
Town officials said they would charge Breslin for the costs of demolition and debris disposal if town crews tear down the building.
In a statement, Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said the Kmart property “has been a blight in Middle Island for too many years.”
“We have been working hard to rid our community of abandoned, unsafe houses and commercial properties all over the town, and removing this one will have a huge impact on the quality of life in the community,” Romaine said.
Lynch-Bailey said residents had supported Breslin’s development plans for the site, which included stores, restaurants and ball fields.
But she said Breslin had told them he could not find major retail chains interested in opening stores there.
Civic leaders even tried to convince retailers to move to the site, but to no avail, Lynch-Bailey said.
“We’re optimistic once it comes down, there’ll be someone interested in building something there,” she said.
TIMELINE OF CLOSED KMART
About 2006: Kmart store closes.
August 2010: Developer Wilbur Breslin proposes redevelopment of site as pedestrian-friendly shopping center to be called Artist’s Lake Plaza. The plaza is never constructed.
Oct. 30, 2015: Consultants hired by Brookhaven Town inspect the site. They determine the closed store is a health and safety hazard and recommend it be torn down.
Feb. 25: Brookhaven Town Board schedules April 7 public hearing on plans to demolish building.
The link above should show the original master plan for the Breslin KMart site, dated from 2009. It featured two large retail spaces in the center of the property, with ball fields to the north/rear of these big boxes and a series of smaller pad stores and restaurants to the south, along the north side of MCR Rt 25. Note, too, the crescent shaped dock at Artist Lake and the connector road leading from the east border across Woodville Rd into the King Kullen Shopping Center. Despite overwhelming support for this plan by both MICA and the TOB, Breslin was unable to secure a major tenant to make this plan a reality.
From Councilman Mike Loguercio’s Office: In order to prevent any injuries, the owner of the vacant Kmart building in Middle Island (with the Town of Brookhaven’s permission) has temporarily closed the dog park, as the shared entrance will be used by construction vehicles. The park will reopen once the deconstruction and removal of debris is completed. Thank you for your patience during this long awaited process
MICA Update: In unanimously passing Resolution 2016-0172, the TOB set a Public Hearing date of April 7th to consider the demolition of the Old KMart building. On March 3, Councilman Michael Loguercio announced that Breslin Realty has applied for and received a demolition permit for the premises! This seems to indicate that the owners will be doing the demo themselves, in order to save money and any tax liens placed upon the property by the town to recoup costs if the town does the work. No word yet on whether Breslin has paid the numerous fines already levied against him. MICA will be watching for signs of demo progress, and we will certainly attend the April 7th Public Hearing if it is indeed necessary.
At the February 25th TOB Council meeting, Councilman Loguercio will sponsor Resolution 2016-0172, setting a public hearing on the demolition of premises at 1075 Middle Country Rd, Middle Island, the old KMart building!
Read the report by Cashin Associates, dated November 2, 2015, via this link; scroll to pages 88-113.
At our January 21st MICA meeting, Councilman Michael Loguercio said that this blighted property is his Number One priority in Middle Island. He explained that the TOB recently dispatched an engineering firm to study the viability of the building, with hopes that it can be condemned and demolished if found to be structurally unsound. We eagerly await the results of the engineering firm’s study.
It’s been almost a year since former TOB Supervisor and Republican John LaMura, “shepherd” of this Breslin Realty project, attended a Middle Island Civic meeting. In November 2014, LaMura told us a revised plan was definitely in the works. So far we’ve seen nothing new. The behemoth remains, with Breslin unwilling to take it down due to increased dumping fees, accumulated fines, and an unpaid mortgage on the property. Residents continue to clamor for the transformation of this parcel into something useful and beautiful, particularly as a recreational and athletic facility, given its proximity to Artist Lake.
New tags appeared on the front of the old KMart building after the July 4th weekend. MICA has forwarded photos to our elected reps and to Breslin Realty officials, who promise to have the tags painted over as soon as possible. Breslin and the TOB had just removed a large pile of debris from the rear and side corner of the building, and now this! How much longer will this building be allowed to fester as the massive “unattractive nuisance” it so clearly is? This huge parcel is still the largest instance of blight in Middle Island — it stands in ironic counterpoint to the new AVR Meadows project, which Mr Breslin recently celebrated in Yaphank. MICA has long supported the Artist Lake Plaza plans, which we were told would be updated “very soon.” That was eight months ago. The extensions for the original approvals for Artist Lake Plaza are due to expire this month. Will this deadline finally get something positive happening at the site?
Social media played an important role in alerting MICA to an unwelcome development at Breslin Realty’s old KMart parcel last week: the arrival overnight of dozens of large RVs, trucks, trailers and portable lavatories in the front parking lot.. Drivers passing by reported these trailers were clearly occupied overnight; closer inspection on Friday morning, May 8, confirmed this. Running water spilling across the lot from open garden hoses and fire hydrants was also observed. Urgent emails to Breslin Realty were sent, along with the photo below. Before noon, Leasing Agent Robert Delavale replied:
The Trailers were to be empty and stored on the property by the organization currently putting on a carnival on Long Island. This is the same organization that has previously Leased the K-mart space for a carnival at the site. It was to be strictly temporary until May 15th or so, however, based upon your observations and concerns Mr. Breslin has refused to sign the license agreement, and instructed our property management department to arrange to have them removed immediately.
Trailers were removed starting late Friday night; by Saturday, the lot was empty, save for one lav which was gone by Monday. The initial reporter of the trailers wryly and correctly observed: “Now it’s just back to the regular eyesore it’s been for too long.”
At the March 6th taping of “Coffee with the Supervisor” featuring MICA officers Tom Talbot and Gail Lynch-Bailey, TOB Supervisor Ed Romaine pledged to keep the pressure on the developer/owner of the huge KMart parcel, the most asked- about blighted property in Middle Island. Supervisor Romaine said the Town will not grant any further extensions to the project and will also not act upon any other Breslin projects within Brookhaven until the matter of Artist Lake Plaza is resolved.
Allow me to take the time to respond to your email regarding Artist Lake development in Middle Island, and any updates to the status since we last corresponded.
I believe the activity that some Local residents have reported at the site in recent weeks was our continued battle with persons dumping debris on the site, as well as out attempt to clean out the first floor of the premises which has taken its toll from vandals. We are unable to effectively secure the site because of the access required to be maintained for the Dog Park.
I personally have not been contacted, however I do believe Mr. Breslin has been contacted by a developer to discuss sport and recreational possibilities at the site, however, I believe it was a very preliminary conversation and with the Holiday season, many people, including Wilbur were away, and out of touch for a few weeks, but I am certain he will follow up.
I concur that Baseball Heaven in Yaphank and the newly opened All Star Arena in Coram have opened with a good deal of success, which could indicate a need for these types of businesses, and we would clearly entertain incorporating some combination of indoor/outdoor recreation into the Artist Lake Plaza final plan, assuming it could be cohesively incorporated into the overall development, while keeping with the community’s desire of retaining our plan for restaurants and pad stores closest to Middle Country Road and the Artist Lake vista.
Thank you for your continued interest in our project.
In advance of this Thursday’s MI Civic Association meeting, could we get an update on the status of Artist Lake Plaza?
Local residents have reported some type of construction-like activity at the site in recent weeks. This has left all of us wondering what the latest plans are. Any chance the building is being readied for demolition?
I believe a group of sports enthusiasts is or was due to meet with you soon to discuss expanded recreational possibilities at the site. Has this meeting occurred?
The success of Baseball Heaven in Yaphank and the newly opened All Star Arena in Coram (both places are constantly booked) indicate a growing need for these types of businesses. There is also a huge interest in curling, with the closest facility located in Nassau County. Some combination of indoor/outdoor recreation would certainly be welcome and well-used at Artist Lake Plaza.
We note the Town of Brookhaven’s recent approval of the project’s 7th and FINAL extension for filing the declaration of covenants and restrictions to July 8th, 2015.
The community is still very much in favor of retaining the plans for restaurants and pad stores closest to Middle Country Road and the Artist Lake vista. This, combined with expanded recreational use as well as small hotel and housing components, would make for a very acceptable revised plan.
Here’s hoping 2015 is indeed the year for true progress at Artist Lake Plaza.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Middle Island Civic Association
PO Box 658
Middle Island, NY 11953
At the Thursday, November 20th MICA meeting, MICA members and guests were hoping to hear some very concrete plans for the largest eyesore In Middle Island. Former TOB Supervisor John LaMura, who is the attorney shepherding the plans for Breslin’s Artist Lake Plaza, explained that they are “very close” to having an amended plan ready and promised to return with it in the “very near future.” LaMura said he is committed to retaining much of the small pad/restaurant/lake vista configuration closest to Middle Country Road. He explained that the central two big box concepts are virtually dead – and that even Wilbur Breslin finally accepts this. Some type of housing component, mixed use, multi-family, could be an alternative to the big boxes. This would still allow for the construction on the smaller pads as well as the recreational fields to the north. While we wait for this new plan, one thing is certain: Mr. Breslin and his partners should pay off the mortgage on the old Kmart building and then tear it down immediately. This will go far to rekindle the entire community’s faith in the Breslin organization, which dwindles each day that old relic is allowed to stand.
The following info appeared on the handout distributed to all at the MICA meeting and forwarded to Breslin Realty:
Contrary to what professional demographics may say, Middle Island’s MCR corridor is about to undergo a mini-Renaissance. The Longwood Public Library will reopen its renovated space in late summer 2015. Two new Day Care facilities are currently under construction. Tudor Oaks has been purchased by Fairfield MI LLC, which plans a complete revitalization of this community. Competition Toyota will be expanding into the PC Richards next door. McDonalds is moving from Ridge to the front lot at the MI King Kullen Shopping Center. Sandy Hills will soon break ground, linking Rts 25 and 21 on the northeast corner of our community crossroads. This development will then force something to happen at the dead gas station; it will also have an expandable sewage treatment plant that could be accessed by a project (as yet unknown) at the old Kogel Lumber site across from the library. And: voters recently approved a new headquarters building for the Middle Island Fire Department.
So this is the PERFECT time for action at Breslin Realty’s languishing old Kmart property, aka Artist Lake Plaza.
MICAns and others still want this parcel to become a DESTINATION. We are still in search of the permanent LYSA fields promised six years ago as part of Breslin’s plan. We welcome any enhanced recreational uses of the parcel that would not include excessive noise, light or air pollution. At MICA meetings, via email and social media, community members regularly suggest ideas for the parcel. Some of these include:
Ideas for the smaller pads: Panera, LA Fitness, Outback, Apple Store, Chipotle, Starbucks, Miller Ale House, Cheesecake Factory, Applebees, Trader Joes, Canoe Outfitters, Sports Shop…
Ideas instead of the Big Boxes: YMCA, Hotel/Catering Hall, Housing, Movie Theater, College Building, Hockey/Ice Rink, Whole Foods, Indoor Year-round Sports Fields, Mini Golf….
(Just some of the many) Questions: Why hasn’t Breslin paid off the mortgage on the old building? How soon after doing so will he take that eyesore down? What traffic mitigations will accompany the project? What is the value of the parcel now? How can we prevent people from leaving their cars for sale on the site? Why can’t the property be fenced and still leave access to the Dog Park? What is the NEW PLAN?
October Update: Perhaps our most frequently asked question is about the “Old K Mart” parcel. The plans for this blighted parcel are ambitious– and approved by the TOB. Just waiting, and waiting, for owner Wilbur Breslin to lock up a major tenant for the project to move forward! But how long are we all expected to wait? Below are letters sent to Breslin Realty — and Mr. Breslin’s prompt reply:
October 30, 2014
Breslin Realty Development Corp
500 Old Country Road
Garden City, New York 11530
Ladies and Gentlemen:
For eight years, we have lived with an enormous eyesore in our community: the old KMart property on Middle Country Road in Middle Island, owned by Breslin Realty.
We greeted the promise of Artist Lake Plaza in November 2008 with open arms and much support. We met with architect Dana Hepler in 2010. We attended every lengthy Pine Barrens Commission hearing regarding this “development of regional significance,” testifying in its favor and celebrating when it was approved in July 2011. We applauded the project’s premiere status in the Town of Brookhaven’s Blight to Light initiative by Supervisor Lesko and its continuation under Supervisor Romaine.
Then we waited. And waited. And waited… all to no avail.
I emailed the Breslin rep associated with Artist Lake Plaza, Mr. Robert Delavale, in March, and then left him a telephone message in May to make friendly inquiries, offer suggestions and get at least a rudimentary update on this project — about which we civic officers are constantly questioned. I have never received the courtesy of a reply.
Meanwhile rumors continue to fly: Breslin is bankrupt; Breslin can’t get any major big box commitment; Breslin wants to build a used car lot; Breslin is building housing there instead; Breslin is selling the property.
This can’t be good for business — particularly not for the many other vacant parcels Breslin Realty owns and manages in the Longwood area.
And it is certainly not good for our community. Thousands of people live directly opposite this vast, weed-pierced sea of asphalt and its decaying central building, and many thousands more pass it each day. It’s depressing, embarrassing, infuriating — and simply unacceptable.
The building is frequently broken into, vandalized and painted with graffiti. What’s more, people are using the empty lot as their personal used car sales area. With alarming and increasing frequency, illegally parked vehicles, their windshields marked “For Sale By Owner/Call This Number,” are seen along the areas closest to Rt 25. This is the Gateway to the Hamptons?
We believe people still want to shop, dine and recreate at Artist Lake Plaza. But we have run out of patience — and our faith in the Breslin organization is at an all time low.
We ask that you tell us, in no uncertain terms, what Breslin Realty’s true plans are to end this awful blight in Middle Island. We invite you to do so at our next regular Middle Island Civic Association Meeting on Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 7:00pm at the Middle Island Fire Department. Kindly confirm your attendance as soon as possible.
Gail Lynch-Bailey, President
Middle Island Civic Association
October 31, 2014
Dear Ms. Lynch-Baily
I am taking the time to personally respond to your email so you understand how disturbed I am by the conditions of my property in Middle Island and the status of its redevelopment and the concerns of the Civic Association and residents of the nearby communities.
I have been a property owner in the Middle Island area for over 30 years. I bought the current Kmart property from TSS (Time Square Stores) when they filed bankruptcy in the late 1980’s and I brought Kmart to Long Island and redeveloped all of the TSS store sites. I have always prided myself in my commitment and involvement with the communities and surrounding residents and in my ability to address their needs.
The fact of the matter is that we actively pursued the redevelopment of this site for years since the closing of the Kmart and we were met with challenges and obstacles at every step. We met every challenge and obstacle and worked through the towns requirements, the Pine Barrens issues and the community concerns. In the development business our greatest enemy is time and unfortunately, as most people are aware, the economic conditions for big box retailers has changed dramatically in the last several years. While we were spending many, many dollars to comply with all of the town requirements and the wish-list of the various parties in interest, the retail market disappeared and our large big box tenants walked away. We cannot redevelop the property into a retail center without the tenants willing to occupy and do business at the site.
I have millions of dollars invested in the area and every reason to want to move forward. Perhaps that is the reason for all of the rumors you allude to in your email. I can assure you my company is not bankrupt. We have no definite plan today for this property, but we are open to suggestions including building residential or selling the property if that makes the most economic sense. We continue to field inquiries and we continue to pursue both retail, residential and mixed use alternatives.
With regard to the current conditions of the building, I am glad that you wrote to me so I now have a forum to explain why we have been unable to better secure the building and the perimeter. There is currently a mortgage on the old Kmart building and, despite several attempts, the lender has refused to permit us to demolish the building. This is yet another example of a bureaucratic, corporate obstacle to a common sense solution. We thought perhaps that a more secure fence would prevent the vandalism and trespassing, (which by the way is costing us many dollars to clean up and police) but a fence around the perimeter is not possible because many years ago, at the request of the Town of Brookhaven, we granted the Town residents an easement of access in and over the parking lot to get to the new Town Dog Park. If we adequately fence the property we have to cancel the easement. We viewed the benefit of the access to the dog park as paramount to erecting the fence. If the community disagrees and can find another way to access the dog park that’s agreeable to the Town, we would certainly fence the property.
I am truly sorry that the community has lost patience with me and my organization, but I assure you that if I had a viable redevelopment solution that worked for the community and made economic sense and could get fast-tracked through the Town approval process I would be thrilled to devote the time and money to get it done.
I will have a representative present at your next meeting and I remain available should you wish to communicate with me directly.
PS – I cannot end without responding to your frustration at not receiving a response to your prior inquiry addressed to our leasing director, Robert Delavale. We have a strict corporate policy to always respond to community concerns and quite frankly, to answer every phone call or email. Mr. Delavale has assured me that he did answer when you reached out to him last spring. Attached is a copy of his email response to you.
Wilbur F. Breslin
Breslin Realty Development Corp.
500 Old Country Road
Garden City, New York 11530
Dear Mr. Breslin:
Thank you for the quick and detailed response.
I certainly believe that Mr. Delavale sent the email you attached — but I did not receive it. If I had, I would gladly have shared it with our civic and then slept with it under my pillow!
Many of the travails you relate about the property are identical to what I, in turn, have been relating to the local community at our monthly meetings, as well as via a barrage of emails and almost daily social media inquiries. The status of the “Old Kmart” is indeed our most Frequently Asked Question.
I shopped — a lot!– at both the Kmart and TSS stores, and I have older and fonder memories of visiting Fairy Town at that site as a child. I appreciate the easement afforded by your organization for access to the Town of Brookhaven’s Dog Park.
And I have been a steadfast supporter of the proposed Artist Lake Plaza. It was my sworn testimony, quite late in the day on September 15, 2010, that stood as the sole citizens’ counterpoint to the opposition of Richard Amper at the Pine Barrens Commission Hearing held at Riverhead Town Hall.
So imagine my reaction when two days ago, a resident of Lake Pointe posted this about your property on our MI Civic Facebook page: “Has anyone looked at this place at all recently? It seems that no one cares or is doing anything about this mess. If someone from the MICA lived across the street I’m betting something would have been done by now.”
After I took this person to task for never having joined or even once attended a civic meeting, I realized something: both our organizations have not done enough to communicate precisely what we have been trying to do there.
Most recently, our actions have centered on keeping the building boarded up and getting illegally parked “For Sale By Owner” cars removed from the front lot. We’ve even had someone calling the phone numbers written on the windshields and warning owners to move them before they’re ticketed and towed.
So you see, although we’ve never met, we are certainly in this together, Mr. Breslin!
Happily, the community is still brimming with ideas, suggestions and questions for the parcel. I cannot tell you how many people have told me they are so tired of having to drive to Miller Place or Farmingville to go out to dinner. Folks would love a StarBucks, Panera Bread, and LA Fitness. Demographics not good enough? Then how about a sports bar, a catering hall, a canoe outfitter and a pinball arcade? And my own proposal: Hofstra University East — the Wilbur Breslin Campus.
We stand ready to email, message, write and meet with any number of potential tenants to demonstrate our enthusiasm, interest and buying power.
I am very happy that someone from your organization will be at our November 20th meeting. At your earliest convenience, please let me know who that will be, so I can supply directions and parking instructions.