Business

Photo by Elyse Sutton

Gap Inc. announced plans last week to close 230 of its namesake brand stores over the next two years as it works to restructure. Gap will close about 130 Gap stores, or more than half of the fleet slated for closure, in 2019.

Among those affected will be the Gap in Port Jefferson, located at 100 Arden Place, which will close on April 25 after 27 years in business.

The retailer will split into two publicly traded companies: Old Navy and a yet-to-be named company that will include the Gap brand, Banana Republic, Intermix and leisure labels Athleta and Hill City.

In a statement Gap said its remaining store fleet will be a “more appropriate foundation” for future growth.

Photo from Councilman LaValle's office

JUST KEEP SWIMMING

Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) joined representatives from the Middle Country Chamber of Commerce, Suffolk County Legislator Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma), Assemblyman Douglas Smith (R-Holbrook) and residents in welcoming Goldfish Swim School to Centereach on March 2.

Owners Michael, Rodney and Blake George, Branden Yono and owner/operator Jake Atchoo received a Certificate of Congratulations from the Brookhaven Town Board; a Certificate of Recognition from Muratore and a Certificate of Merit from Smith who wished them well in their new venture.

Goldfish Swim School has 90 locations across the country. The Centereach location, located at 141 Centereach Mall off Middle Country Road, is the first in Suffolk County. Open daily, the facility offers indoor, year-round swim instruction to children ages 4 months to 12 years along with weekly family swims and birthday parties.

Pictured from left, LaValle; Michael George; Blake George; Jake Atchoo; Branden Yono; Rodney George; Bob Martinez, chief of staff to Leg. Muratore; and Samantha Heise, general manager.

For more information, call 631-405-4111 or visit www.goldfishswimschool.com/centereach/.

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Union workers stand in front of Bristal facility in Mount Sinai in protest. Photo by Kyle Barr

As workers in bright orange crawled over the skeleton of two upcoming senior living facilities in Mount Sinai, several members of a local union stood in front of a large, blowup rat, saying the developer has refused to use unionized labor.

Local Union 66, which represents over 1,000 people in the building construction sector, stood outside the development March 25 as they criticized the developers The Engel Burman Group, of Garden City, for using Concrete Structures, a Ronkonkoma-based contractor. 

“They just poured all the concrete the last two weeks. A lot of work here has been done so far that we should have been doing,” said union member Darren Smith in front of the construction site. “Do you think I want to be out here? I could be in there, working.”

A representative of Concrete Structures could not be reached by press time.

Joe Cavalieri, the recording secretary of Local 66, said the union has had talks with Concrete Structures in the past about unionizing, but could not come to an agreement. 

“They’re not paying area standard wages,” Cavalieri said. “They do get IDA money, which is public money, and they charge exorbitant amounts of money for the housing, but they don’t want to pay the area standard of construction workers.”

Units in the complex will range from studio up to two bedrooms, but a spokesperson from Engel Burman has said they have not determined the prices of rent yet.

A scene of construction of the new Bristal facilities in Mount Sinai. Photo by Kyle Barr

Prevailing wage is the standard set by the New York State comptroller, which determines the wage and benefit rate paid to construction employees if they are working on public works projects or government-funded work sites. While the developer is the recipient of the Brookhaven town Industrial Development Agency payment in lieu of taxes agreement, the amount was not enough to conform to mandate prevailing wage, according to Cavalieri. 

The recording secretary said construction workers’ average wages on Long Island were closer to $70 an hour, including both wages and benefits. Based on conversations he’s had with the company, Concrete Structures workers make less than that.

“We live in a high-priced area, and we continually combat these contractors — not only local, but also out of state,” he said. “They take advantage of our economy out here, while not contributing anything to it.”

Construction is ongoing for two projects, a 120-unit Bristal Assisted Living community and a 225-unit senior rental complex for individuals 55 and over on a 24-acre parcel of land around the corner of Route 25A and Echo Avenue in Mount Sinai. The developers, The Engel Burman Group of Garden City, started construction around the beginning of the year. 

The development was also a recipient of a 13-year payment in lieu of taxes agreement with the Town of Brookhaven IDA, which would see the developer continue to pay $46,000 in property taxes for the first three years while the two projects are under construction. Then in the fourth year, the tax payments would increase to around $190,000 and would continue to rise to about $2.2 million at the end of the PILOT. From there, the developer would pay the full assessed value of the properties, which is expected to be more than the PILOT payments.  

A spokesperson for Engel Burman said that the problem was between construction subcontractors, and that it did not involve the developer. 

Though protesters outside the facility had signs with Engel Burman and an X through the name, some protesters complained that the developer had hired the nonunion labor in the first place.

“The contractor is paying peanuts,” said union member George Leone. “That’s a big job, a lot of our guys could be doing it.”

The Mount Sinai Civic Association, which gave initial support to the project, criticized the decision by the IDA, saying it would mean a loss in tax revenue to the area.

According to the civic association, the development is a part of a 1999 legal stipulation which resulted from a lawsuit filed against the town by them on the 24-acre parcel of land, and the land has always been designated for that purpose of creating these senior facilities.

From left, Dan O’Brien, area director, Panera Bread, Doherty Enterprises Inc.; Jennifer Fitzgibbon, oncological dietician and coordinator for the Healthy Forks Survivorship program, Stony Brook University Hospital; and Jackie Boyd, general manager of Panera Bread at Stony Brook University Hospital. Photo from BML Public Relations

Panera Bread, makers of bread items, soups, salads, sandwiches and more, celebrated the grand opening of its new café at Stony Brook University Hospital, 101 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook on March 11. Owned and operated by franchisee Doherty Enterprises, the restaurant will employ about 60 people, according to a company statement.

Prior to its opening, the café and hospital personnel hosted a fundraiser for the Stony Brook University Cancer Center where employees donated directly to the Cancer Center, raising a total of $1,500.

The café is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and is located on the fifth floor of the hospital in a newly constructed wing named The Brook.

For further information, call 631-632-6000.

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A rendering of the proposed development in Mount Sinai. Image from Steven Losquadro

With the sounds of senior living facilities construction echoing up and down Route 25A, another developer has one more project coming down the pipeline for Mount Sinai, this time for a facility geared toward millennials.

The proposed development, Mount Sinai Meadows, will be a 30-acre mixed-use majority rental and part commercial facility geared toward creating a living space for young adults and young professionals.

“For people in the ages of 20 to 34, an increasing subset of the population here on Long Island, there is not appropriate housing or opportunities for such individuals who wish to stay here,” said Rocky Point-based attorney Steven Losquadro, who is representing the developer. 

Representatives of the site’s developer Mount Sinai Meadows LLC, headed by Woodmere-based real estate developer Basser-Kaufman, attended a Town of Brookhaven board meeting March 14 seeking a change of zoning from J-Business 2 to Planned Development District along with approval of the draft environmental impact study. No final decision was made on the property, and the board confirmed it would leave the proposal open for another 30 days to allow for additional comments.

“We felt it was very important for us to broaden our offerings of housing.”

— Ann Becker

In terms of amenities, the site plans to have bike racks, walkable grounds, communal barbecue areas, electric car charging stations, a large open lawn for the use of residents and four spaces toward the northern end of the property that will be used for large retail spaces. There will be 21.78 acres used for residential housing, while 8.3 acres will be retail. 

The project looks to include 140 housing units, including 106 two-bedroom apartments and 34 one-bedroom apartments. Losquadro said none of the apartments will be subsidized housing.

Engineer Charles Voorhis, a partner of the Melville-based firm Nelson, Pope & Voorhis LLC, said the project includes a 170-foot buffer, incorporating a 40-foot natural buffer between the site and the surrounding woods and residential communities to the south and west of the planned development.

The Mount Sinai Civic Association president Ann Becker said approximately 20 percent of the housing stock in the hamlet is for those 55 and older. She said the developer has offered assurances that the development is not expected to bring in an overwhelming number of children into the Mount Sinai School District.

“We have worked with the developers and have been provided with assurances that the number of children … will not burden our community,” Becker said. “We felt it was very important for us to broaden our offerings of housing.”

A number of residents on Mount Sinai Facebook groups were concerned about the traffic impact these new developments could have. The developer’s representatives did not rule out a potential increase in traffic.

Maureen Bond, the communications director of the Mount Sinai-Miller Place Chamber Alliance, said she also supports the project.

“In my opinion, this is the best plan so far,” she said. “There are traffic issues that need to be addressed; however, I believe having traffic is better than having no traffic.”

The civic has been supportive of the development for years, helping to shape its identity into the millennial housing proposal. One of its most recent requests for the development was to ensure the developer would not seek and would not be given any financial assistance or tax aid from the town, especially any help from the Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency. Two senior developments at the corner of Echo Avenue and Route 25A, one an assisted living facility, had recently been given a generous 13-year payment in lieu of taxes agreement, and though the civic had been supportive of that project, it was heavily against the loss of taxes from the PILOT.

“For people in the ages of 20 to 34, an increasing subset of the population here on Long Island, there is not appropriate housing or opportunities for such individuals who wish to stay here.”

— Steve Losquadro

The Mount Sinai Meadows project has been in the works for several years. Anthony Graves, Brookhaven town’s chief environmental analyst, said he had talked to Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) in 2012 about creating a “true town center” for each of the communities in Council District 2 along Route 25A. A prior project for the site was originally proposed by a different developer specifically for J-2 business zoning, Voorhis said. That project included 805 square feet of retail, 37,000 square feet of office and a 2,000-square-foot bank.

Representatives of the developer said there was no final decision on the expected price on the rentals, but Losqaudro said they have promised the civic it will be at market rate.

Voorhis added the developer is currently in talks with the owner of the neighboring strip mall to allow access between the two retail centers. The developer is also in talks about acquiring the neighboring music store property and incorporating it.

Graves said the town was interested in the PDD zoning because it could more accurately reflect the mixed-use nature of the proposed development.

“[We] believe this development is in the spirit of that original efforts we made in Mount Sinai,” the environmental analyst said. “We look at it as a true town center for Mount Sinai.”

Chocology Unlimited owner Linda Johnson hands out samples of fudge at last year’s Women’s EXPO at the Middle Country Public Library in Centereach. Photo by Miranda Gatewood

By Elizabeth Malafi

Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. Entrepreneurs face many challenges when starting a new business. The challenges are even greater for women entrepreneurs.

While the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the number of women-owned businesses increased by 45 percent from 2007 to 2016, a faster rate than the national average, research shows there is still a significant gap between women-owned and male-owned businesses.

Linda Johnson. Photo by Miranda Gatewood

A report by SCORE, “The Megaphone of Main Street: Women’s Entrepreneurship,” published in spring 2018, shows that women-owned businesses still fall behind in revenue and financing. However, the same report shows that mentorship increases a business’s chances of opening and staying open. Networking and connecting with other women entrepreneurs can yield the same results. These outside perspectives help refine a business’s practices and decision-making.

Connections with other business women and entrepreneurs is invaluable and can really make a difference in the success of a business venture.

Linda Johnson of Chocology Unlimited knows the value of these connections. When first starting her business, she met a kindred spirit in Maria Camassa of Lucky Lou’s Gourmet Rice Pudding. Both were starting new businesses after previous careers and quickly realized that they had very similar philosophies. “Even though we have very different directions for our businesses we still bounce ideas off of each other. Sometimes all you need is a different perspective,” says Johnson. The two became business supports for each other.

As successful women entrepreneurs, the two are often too busy to physically meet, but they do keep in touch. Both women are early birds who spend a lot of time driving so phone calls from the car are their main way of communicating. And communicate they do. Johnson says these calls are often for sharing thoughts and getting input on new business ideas. “We laugh … a lot. Mostly at ourselves.” With the laughter comes true, honest and valuable feedback. Johnson says her connection with Camassa is so important, not only for her business but for herself. It is great to not only get an outside opinion but also encouragement and understanding.

Mentors, partners and role models are beneficial to the success of women-owned small businesses but not always easy to find. Women entrepreneurs should reach out to other women entrepreneurs and professionals.

Not sure where to find them? Join your local chamber of commerce. Or visit one of the many business networking organizations on Long Island. Some even focus on the success of women. SCWBEC, the Suffolk County Women’s Business Enterprise Coalition, is an organization whose mission is to support their members through networking with other women business professionals.

Each fall, the Middle Country Public Library’s Miller Business Center hosts the Women’s EXPO, a venue for women entrepreneurs on Long Island to market their products. But more importantly, this event strives to connect its participants with other women entrepreneurs and business professionals.

Women entrepreneurs have come a long way, but there is still a ways to go toward complete equity. Partnering and mentoring between women entrepreneurs is a good way to get there.

Elizabeth Malafi is the coordinator of the Miller Business Center at the Middle Country Public Library in Centereach.

The Whole Foods in Lake Grove, above, will soon be joined by a second Suffolk County store. File photo

Suffolk County is getting a second Whole Foods Market. The new store, located at the site of the former King Kullen at 120 Veterans Memorial Highway in Commack will hold a grand opening on April 3 at 9 a.m. with complimentary coffee and breakfast pastries offered at 8 a.m. Reusable canvas shopping bags will be handed out to the first 200 customers.

The market will be the fourth Whole Foods location on Long Island. The others are in Jericho, Manhasset and Lake Grove.

“We’re eager to open our doors to the Commack community,” said store team leader Lorraine Barker in a statement. “We look forward to providing our customers with a variety of products to meet all of their needs, while also offering the highest quality service and providing a neighborhood gathering space.”

According to a press release, the new 45,000-square-foot store will offer fresh produce, full-service butcher and seafood departments; an in-house bakery; a hot and cold prepared foods section; coffee and juice bars; beer from local producers; and 142 bins of bulk scoop items. It will also feature a fast-casual eatery that will serve wine and locally brewed beer on tap.

Owned by online retail giant Amazon, the Commack store will employ a total of 200 full- and part-time team members. Following the grand opening, store hours will be 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. For more information, visit www.wholefoodsmarket.com.

The Middle Country Public Library, 101 Eastwood Blvd., Centereach will host a Job Fair by the Suffolk County One-Stop Employment Center on Wednesday, March 20 from 1 to 4 p.m.

Representatives from over 35 companies including Amneal Pharmaceuticals, Association for Mental Health & Wellness, DiCarlo Food Service, East/West Industries, Express Employment Pros, HW Staffing, Jefferson’s Ferry, LIRR, LI State Veterans Home, Manpower, Marcum Search, Precious Lambs Childcare, Presidio, Rise Life Services, South Shore Home Health, Splish Splash, Stop & Shop, Suffolk County Civil Service, SYSCO, Titan Global, Triangle Building Products, Wa  lmart, Well Life Network and Windowrama are scheduled to attend.

All are welcome and no registration is required. Bring copies of your resume and dress to impress! For more information, call 631-585-9393.

ShopRite held a grand opening celebration for its newest store, a state-of-the-art, full-service supermarket in Port Jefferson Station, on Friday, March 8. Located at 5145 Nesconset Highway in Port Jefferson Station, the 68,000-square-foot supermarket will be operated by the Gallagher family.

During the ribbon cutting, the Gallagher family presented a check for $10,000 to Long Island Cares food bank, as well as $1,000 to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6249, Rocky Point.

The existing retail space was completely renovated to make way for a new ShopRite with a convenient shopping format. The store was outfitted with the latest energy-saving and sustainable technologies, including LED lighting and environmentally friendly, energy-efficient refrigerant systems. The parking lot was refreshed with new landscaping and lighting. The store will employ approximately 250 people, many of them local residents.

An in-store, registered dietitian will provide free nutrition and wellness counseling to customers, associates and the community, and the new store will also offer a large selection of organic, local and gluten-free foods and fresh produce. Expanded gluten-free options are available in grocery, bakery and the frozen aisle, and the store also offers a refrigerated dairy-free section.

“We are very excited to bring ShopRite to Port Jefferson with the opening of this state-of-the-art shopping destination. This new supermarket is committed to providing low prices, outstanding service and health and wellness options to the local community,” said Charles Gallagher, president of Gallagher Family Markets.

Charles and his wife, Judith, who also own and operate the ShopRites in Selden and Lake Ronkonkoma, will be joined by other members of the family in running the new store, which is now open daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. For more information, call 631-476-5717.

See more photos from the grand opening event at www.tbrnewsmedia.com/arts-lifestyles/.

All photos courtesy of BML Public Relations

Photo by Julie Diamond

RIBBON CUTTING

The Long Island Museum of Stony Brook welcomed members of the Huntington Chamber of Commerce on Feb. 28 for a reception and ribbon-cutting ceremony in the Carriage Museum. In its continuing effort to increase its reach and gain new audiences, the museum joined the chamber, which represents the interests of business, industry, financial service, not-for-profit and other professionals within the greater Huntington area. 

Its mission is the promotion of business, economic development and job creation through the coordinated effort of its membership. In addition to the customary ribbon cutting, chamber members, many of whom have never been to the Carriage Museum, received a guided tour of the galleries.

Pictured from left, LIM Deputy Director, Director of Advancement & External Affairs Sarah Abruzzi; Manager of Membership & Special Projects Alexandria D’Auria; Manager of Special Events Regina Miano; Executive Director of the Long Island Museum Neil Watson; Huntington chamber board member Brian Yudewitz; board member Bushra Dano; board member Vincent Casillo; board member Gail Lamberta; and Executive Director of the Huntington Chamber of Commerce Ellen O’Brien.

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