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TRITEC

A view of the southern side of The Shipyard apartment building. File photo by Alex Petroski

Some things in life are priceless, but Port Jefferson Village has settled on what’s an appropriate cost for not providing green space when new developments are built.

The village board passed a resolution Aug. 20 reducing the fee levied on developer Tritec, who constructed The Shipyard at Port Jefferson Harbor, for not including sufficient public green space in the apartment complex. It establishes a new precedent for future developments that private parkland can be used to satisfy village’s green space requirements — at least in some small part — as determined on a case-by-case basis.

As a condition of the site plan approval granted for the 112-apartment complex on West Broadway, Port Jefferson’s Department of Building and Planning had required that Tritec be responsible for paying a parkland fee.

Alison LaPointe, special village attorney for building and planning, said a parkland fee is commonly imposed by municipalities. Town of Brookhaven utilizes a multiplier formula that requires 1,500 square feet of public green space per unit in a housing development or $1,000 fine per unit if that space can’t be provided.

The fee is intended to require real estate developers to consider preserving or creating green and recreational spaces when building large complexes. It has been imposed on other projects in the village, like The Hills at Port Jefferson, built by The Gitto Group, on Texaco Avenue. The Gitto Group, rather than paying a fee or including public parkland on its property, invested in renovations to a nearby, village-owned park on Texaco Avenue to satisfy village code requirements.

The issue has been unresolved pertaining to The Shipyard, according to LaPointe, as village attorney Brian Egan has been corresponding with Tritec Vice President Rob Kent to determine if private recreation areas provided for tenants of The Shipyard could qualify to satisfy some of its requirement. The Shipyard offers a rooftop recreational space and a ground-level plaza area for its tenants, which LaPointe and staff from the town’s building and planning department ruled could satisfy the parkland requirement for about 21 of the complex’s 112 units based on square footage.

“In the past we have utilized the Town of Brookhaven’s [formula] as they have a multiplier — either 1,500 square feet per unit or $1,000 per unit,” she said. “The square footage I don’t really have a problem with. I believe that $1,000 is a relatively antiquated number in this day and age. You can’t really buy 1,500 square feet of anything for $1,000. Our multiplier that was proposed was $1,500, so not a massive increase. And again, our calculations came down to that they provided enough green space for a portion of their 112 units, but still did not have parkland for the remaining 91, which results in a fee of about $136,500 in parkland.”

The Aug. 20 resolution effectively set a $1,500 fee per square foot of green space not provided. Trustee Bruce Miller was the lone village board member opposed to the resolution.

“I am appalled at this,” he said. “We are taking recreational space that every luxury apartment has to provide if they’re going to attract tenants and we’re dedicating that to the specific use of the tenants only and we’re calling that public space or green space. It’s not public space.”

Village Mayor Margot Garant disagreed with Miller.

“I think it’s appropriate to give a credit because you also want to encourage these [developers] to build nice places that have the amenities, that have certain areas that are green space, that are attributable to the living area,” she said.

A spokesperson for Tritec did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Port Jefferson Village Hall. File photo by Heidi Sutton

By Alex Petroski

The terms of two Port Jefferson Village board trustees and the mayor are up this year and an election awaits them June 20, but in a race devoid of actual opponents, those up for reelection have opposition in the form of difficult, long-range challenges to square off against instead.

Barring a groundswell of support for a potential write-in candidate, incumbent trustees Stanley Loucks and Larry LaPointe, as well as incumbent Mayor Margot Garant know they’ll be serving the community for another two-year term after the election.

Garant will embark on her fifth term in office, while Loucks is set to begin his second and LaPointe his fourth.

Port Jefferson Village residents will see only incumbents on the June 20 ballot, including Margot Garant, left and Stanley Loucks. Photo by Alex Petroski

With long-term issues looming, like large-scale apartment developments and an ongoing legal battle with the Long Island Power Authority, Garant said a focus of her first four terms has been to bolster the village’s sources of revenue in any way possible. Beautification projects funded in large part by state and county grants are underway in upper Port, the area surrounding the Long Island Railroad station, in an effort to get blighted and vacant properties back on the village’s tax roll and attract private investors to build in the area.

“I really wanted to make sure that we …had a beautiful new gateway on the south side of the village that made you feel like you were entering the village of Port Jefferson in upper Port,” Garant said. “I think we owe that to the upper Port community.”

Loucks, who serves as the board’s liaison to the village-owned Port Jefferson Country Club and to the village’s recreation department, said his focus has been on improving and building up each of those village assets in the hopes of attracting members and village participation — another source of village revenue. About $100,000 of tax dollars were invested to improve the golf course’s village-owned grill room, which Loucks said is now an asset for the club.

“This year alone our membership, for the first time since I’ve been involved … is up,” Loucks said during the May 25 interview. “We’ve had a decline in membership over the past 10 years. Approximately 50 members per year on average have left us either through attrition or they’ve passed away or they’ve moved away or gone to other clubs. This year we’re up.”

LaPointe, the deputy mayor, was someone Garant pointed to as a possible successor when she decides to step away.

“I’m happy to see Margot in that chair because I think she’s been a wonderful mayor,” he said in an interview. “I get a lot of personal satisfaction out of this and that’s why I continue to do it.”

All three incumbents surmised that a lack of challengers could serve as proof residents are happy with the job the board is doing. Garant explained that the platform of the Unity Party, the name the three have attributed to their joint ticket, is to do what’s best for the community. The result has been a board that has a positive and productive rapport, according to Garant.

“We may not always agree, but we’ll always be able to listen. We’ll try and compromise, but largely we’re not on opposite pages,” she said. “I think if you put your self-interests aside and say, ‘What’s in the best interest of the village?’ we’ll all get there together. I think that that’s how
we survived.”

Trustee Bruce Miller, who Garant said tends to have differing opinions from the rest of the board at times, said in a phone interview he wished his colleagues faced some opposition because it would be a chance for different viewpoints from the community to be brought to the forefront.

“There are some ideas that I have, but there’s nobody to bring these ideas forth,” he said. “I’m not completely thrilled, but at some level it does reflect some contentment in what’s going on.”

He reiterated that the working relationship within the board is overwhelmingly positive.

Bruce D’Abramo, the fifth member of the board, said in an email he fully supports Garant, Loucks and LaPointe in their reelection bids.

LaPointe expressed a similar sentiment regarding varying viewpoints from residents being heard and represented.

“I think in a way it’s a disadvantage because when we run with an opponent, which we’ve done several times, it forces us to take the time to go and knock on doors, and the last time we found that very, very fruitful,” he said. “I want to talk to some people other than the people who typically come to board meetings.”

Each of the three candidates expressed a desire to see solutions to some of the more difficult problems through to the end before stepping aside.

A lawsuit is currently pending that includes the village and the Port Jefferson School District as plaintiffs against LIPA, associated with the power authority’s desire to pay less in property taxes at sites like the Port Jefferson power plant because of its condition and infrequent use. The village and district receive substantial amounts of revenue from property taxes because of the presence of the plant.

Port Jefferson Village residents will see only incumbents on the June 20 ballot, including Larry Lapointe. Photo by Alex Petroski

Garant said in an interview in her office May 25 the village will continue to build up its unencumbered fund balance as a savings to use in the event a settlement is reached between the two parties that results in a loss of revenue for the village. The plan is to reach an agreement with LIPA with a gradual reduction in their property taxes, should the village’s first choice of repowering the plant not happen.

In addition, three apartment complexes in the village are at various stages of completion, which will in total result in nearly 300 new living spaces for new village residents. The expansion is expected to stimulate local businesses, but could wreak havoc on the school district should renters with school-aged children flood the homes, with little gain in property tax revenue because of financial assistance agreements reached between the property developers and the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency.

The village will receive PILOTs, or payments in lieu of taxes, for 15 years instead of actual property tax revenue thanks to the agreements.

For example, The Shipyard apartment complex being constructed by TRITEC Development Group, across from Port Jefferson Harbor on the corner of East Broadway and Barnum Avenue, would net the village about $49,000 in property tax revenue in 2025, according to Garant. Thanks to the agreement, the PILOT payments in that year will amount to about $3,000. Garant estimated the losses for the village to exceed a half a million dollars by 2030. She said she and the board opposed the agreement between the Suffolk IDA and TRITEC. However, building permits and other fees written into the village code will serve to offset a small portion of those costs, Garant added.

Increased traffic and the sheer size of the projects have also caused angst among some longtime village residents.

TRITEC officials and Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant shovel some dirt at the groundbreaking for the Shipyard apartments on June 14. Photo by Elana Glowatz

A new apartment complex is setting sail for downtown Port Jefferson.

Developers and Port Jefferson leaders gathered at the old Heritage Inn motel site on Tuesday to break ground on The Shipyard luxury apartments, a 112-unit building going up on West Broadway near the Barnum Avenue intersection.

The groundbreaking for the Shipyard apartments in Port Jefferson is held on June 14. Photo by Elana Glowatz
The groundbreaking for the Shipyard apartments in Port Jefferson is held on June 14. Photo by Elana Glowatz
TRITEC's Bob Coughlan talks about the development's impact on Port Jefferson Village at the groundbreaking for the Shipyard apartments on June 14. Photo by Elana Glowatz
TRITEC’s Bob Coughlan talks about the development’s impact on Port Jefferson Village at the groundbreaking for the Shipyard apartments on June 14. Photo by Elana Glowatz

They had started taking down the decrepit motel in mid-May, with Mayor Margot Garant getting into an excavator and smashing down the machine’s arm onto the roof of one structure at the site, a task she referred to afterward as “cathartic.” She and TRITEC Real Estate Company Principal Bob Coughlan had also used sledgehammers to smash some windows.

Previously called the Residences at Port Jefferson, the project calls for a three-story apartment building comprised of 42 one-bedroom apartments and 70 two-bedroom units, with resident parking underneath the structure. The building will take up less than half of the 3.74-acre property, which borders Old Mill Creek, to leave room for landscaping and buffers.

During the groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, Coughlan, who lives in Port Jefferson near the site, said the apartments will “clean up a blighted property” and help keep young people living and working on Long Island.

“There is a desperate need for housing of this type, particularly in walkable communities,” he said. “We are thrilled to be part of this.”

Heavy equipment is on display during the groundbreaking for the Shipyard apartments in Port Jefferson on June 14. Photo by Elana Glowatz
Heavy equipment is on display during the groundbreaking for the Shipyard apartments in Port Jefferson on June 14. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Garant also spoke at the ceremony, saying that having people living on the west end of the village year-round will support the businesses on that side of town, because they will eat in local restaurants and shop in local boutiques.

“This project is going to become a huge economic engine for us year-round,” the mayor said, adding that it could become home to both young professionals from Stony Brook University and elderly Port Jefferson residents who want to downsize without leaving the area.

Coughlan estimated The Shipyard would be finished in 18 months.

Port Jefferson officials shovel some dirt at the groundbreaking for the Shipyard apartments on June 14. Photo by Elana Glowatz
Port Jefferson officials shovel some dirt at the groundbreaking for the Shipyard apartments on June 14. Photo by Elana Glowatz

 

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Demolition at the Heritage Inn motel in Port Jefferson gets underway on May 17. Photo by Elana Glowatz

By Elana Glowatz

Smashes and gashes, scraps to dust.

Officials started to take down the decrepit Heritage Inn motel in downtown Port Jefferson on Tuesday morning, sending sledgehammers into a glass window and dropping an excavator’s arm onto the roof of one structure on the West Broadway site.

It was the first step toward new construction at the spot, where TRITEC Real Estate Company is putting up a 112-unit apartment building with parking underneath the structure, near the intersection with Barnum Avenue.

Bob Coughlan swings a sledgehammer into glass at the Heritage Inn motel, the blighted Port Jefferson site where his real estate company is building apartments. Photo by Elana Glowatz
Bob Coughlan swings a sledgehammer into glass at the Heritage Inn motel, the blighted Port Jefferson site where his real estate company is building apartments. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Previously called the Residences at Port Jefferson, TRITEC’s Bob Coughlan said on Tuesday that the apartments will be called “The Shipyard.” He estimated the project would be completed in 20 months.

“We’re thrilled to add to the vibrancy of the community,” said Coughlan, a TRITEC principal who lives in Port Jefferson.

He and Mayor Margot Garant did the honors in the ceremonial demolition, with both taking sledgehammers to a glass window in the attendant’s booth toward the front of the property before Garant got behind the controls of an excavator and sent its arm down hard into the roof of that booth, crushing everything underneath it to cheers from onlookers.

“We had the honor of taking the first bite out of the building and it was very cathartic,” she said afterward, noting that she was still shaking from the experience.

More demolition was scheduled to occur on the property later in the week, with a groundbreaking on the three-story luxury apartment building in June.

According to the plans approved by the Port Jefferson Planning Board, there will be 42 one-bedroom apartments and 70 two-bedroom, and the building will take up less than half of the 3.74-acre property to leave room for landscaping and buffers. The project did not require any variances or special exceptions from the village.

The Overbay apartments are planned for the former Islander Boat Center on West Broadway, above. File photo

The developer of a controversial apartment complex planned for Port Jefferson’s West Broadway may get financial assistance to help build it.

The Town of Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency announced last week that it had accepted an application for consideration from Hauppauge-based Overbay LLC, which has approval from the Port Jefferson Village Planning Board to construct two 35-foot buildings containing 52 rental apartments.

Overbay is owned by North Shore developer Jim Tsunis.

Some residents have spoken against the project, slated for the corner of Brook Road at the former Islander Boat Center property, with concerns about increased traffic and density. Part of their resistance is linked to the fact that another apartment complex called the Residences at Port Jefferson — a 112-unit building — is due to go up next door at the corner of West Broadway and Barnum Avenue, in the place of the former Heritage Inn. TRITEC Real Estate Company in East Setauket is leading that development.

“We don’t want to be urbanized,” resident Phil Griffith said at a public hearing earlier this year. “It is just too much.”

In both projects, neither of which required variances for approval, parking will be contained underneath the apartments and the housing will replace longtime community eyesores at village’s western entry point.

According to the IDA, which aims to boost the economy within Brookhaven Town by assisting businesses in locating or expanding in the area, it will consider Overbay’s application for financial assistance over the coming few months and will hold a public hearing on the matter.

“We’re pleased to consider this application for this project, which will grow the much-needed supply of rental housing near to Stony Brook University and Port Jefferson’s Mather and St. Charles hospitals,” IDA Chairman Fred Braun said in a press release.

The three-story apartment buildings are expected to create two permanent jobs and 150 construction jobs over a two-year period, the IDA said. Rents could range from $1,800 to $2,200.

There is no commercial component to the Overbay project, though there had been commercial space included in previous proposals for the site.

The IDA has already assisted another apartment project in the area this year, the Rail Realty complex along Texaco Avenue in upper Port. That project, dubbed the Hills at Port Jefferson, will include two three-story buildings for a total of 74 rentals — a mixture of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments — and underground parking.

The former Islander Boat Center could soon become 52 apartments. File photo by Erika Karp

A second apartment complex on West Broadway got the green light recently, when the Port Jefferson Planning Board gave conditional approval to 52 units at the former Islander Boat Center property.

The 20 conditions the board put on Overbay LLC’s project at its May 14 meeting include items to control drainage at the site off of Brook Road, which is not far above the water table, Planning Board member Barbara Sabatino said in a phone interview. The applicant must also give the village “a final eyeball” on the structures’ elevation and colors before it can be granted building permits.

Overbay’s two buildings would go up next door to a planned 112-unit apartment building — the Residences at Port Jefferson — at West Broadway and Barnum Avenue, the site of the decrepit former Heritage Inn. The board approved that project, from applicant TRITEC Real Estate Company, at a meeting last month, according to minutes from April 16.

The Residences at Port Jefferson are to be built on a property roughly double the size of Overbay’s.

Both sites at the western entrance to Port Jefferson Village would have parking underneath the apartments and would replace longtime community eyesores. Neither required variances for approval.

The two projects have another thing in common: Both have faced opposition from some village residents who say they are concerned about increased density and traffic.

“We don’t want to be urbanized,” Phil Griffith said at a public hearing in March. “It is just too much. Too, too much.”

With the Overbay apartments, cars would access the site from Brook Road, while cars visiting the Residences at Port Jefferson would enter through a driveway on West Broadway or an entrance on Barnum Avenue.

The proposal the Planning Board approved for the Overbay project does not include commercial space, which had been a component — along with more apartments — in previous proposals for the site.

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