The town board voted unanimously to name the firms master developers of the lot surrounding Osborne Avenue and Railroad Street, Newsday reported. Manhattan-based RXR, which is led by Scott Rechler and has a Long Island office, will serve as majority partner for the project. Georgica Green, a 10-year-old affordable housing developer run by David Gallo, is based in Jericho.
The development team beat out five other finalists. Riverhead received grant funding from the state years ago to create a revitalization plan and new zoning, as well as to issue a request for proposals from developers.
“It’s really about bringing investment and people into that area that has really been underutilized and blighted for many years,” said Dawn Thomas, the town’s community development director, according to Newsday.
Riverhead, population 36,000, sits at the mouth of the Peconic River and the western edge of Flanders Bay, which initially separates the North and South forks of Long Island’s East End. It has a modest downtown including an aquarium and the Long Island Rail Road stop, but for many is a mere weigh station en route to the Hamptons or North Fork.
Many New Yorkers know Riverhead for the Tanger Outlets and big-box stores along Route 58, as well as the water park Splish Splash, but not for its downtown.
The revitalization plan aims to change that. It proposes 243 apartments, more than 2,300 square feet of retail and 12,000 square feet of commercial space. There will also be a four- or five-story parking garage with 420 to 520 spaces. The project is estimated to cost between $110 million and $125 million.
The next step is for the town to negotiate an agreement with the developers, followed by the submission of a site plan application, Newsday reported. If all goes well, developers could receive approval for the project within a year.
Joe Graziose, RXR’s executive vice president of residential development and construction, aims to begin work within 18 months. Construction is estimated to take about three years.
The town’s transit-oriented development committee did express concerns about the project, including issues regarding safety, parking and lighting. The developers adjusted the project design, helping to secure their selection as master developers.
“Our goal is to bring vibrancy and connectivity between the [transit-oriented development], the bus depot area and the plaza we’re building, and create excitement to bring people into Riverhead,” Graziose told Newsday.
[Newsday] — Holden Walter-Warner