Riverhead cancels $40M contract for huge industrial campus

Calverton Aviation & Technology hinting at litigation after town board scuttles deal

Riverhead Cancels $40M Industrial Campus Contract
4062 Grumman Boulevard in Calverton with Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguiar and Calverton Aviation & Technology's Justin Ghermezian (Google Maps, Town of Riverhead NY, Calverton Aviation & Technology)

Riverhead hit Calverton Aviation & Technology with a one-two punch this week, but the Triple Five Group affiliate likely isn’t down for the count.

The town board voted to cancel a $40 million contract to sell 1,644 acres to CAT for the redevelopment of the former Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Plant in Calverton, Newsday reported. CAT planned to develop Enterprise Park at Calverton.

Legislators unanimously voted to kill the deal during a special meeting held one day after the town’s Industrial Development Agency decided against providing financial assistance to CAT, claiming it wasn’t financially capable of developing the promised technology and aerospace hub. Community opposition appears to have influenced the decision.

The North Fork site has sat largely dormant since 1996, when the U.S. Navy property leased by the Grumman Corporation to test military aircraft closed. The government gave the land to the town in 1998 to help it recover from Grumman’s closure, but Riverhead did little with it until signing a 2018 contract with CAT.

An amendment to the contract last year gave the town the ability to back out of the sale if the IDA didn’t approve financial assistance for the project. Opponents celebrated after the IDA’s rejection on Monday, likely understanding what was to follow.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

A spokesperson for CAT signaled it would bring litigation, saying in a statement that the economic future of Calverton would be in “the courthouse for what will likely be years to come.” The statement also said CAT had the “legal right” to develop the land.

One persistent issue for CAT has been ambiguity surrounding its plans. Last year, the developers put forth a mixed-use plan of industrial and aerospace uses, estimating an initial cost of $247 million for the first 1 million square feet. Rumors of a cargo jetport angered locals despite denials from the company.

Another point of contention has been CAT’s ownership. The entity is run by Justin Ghermezian and is an affiliate of Triple Five Group, the Ghermezian family’s real estate firm. The company has built an empire of malls but may be best known for its ownership of the struggling American Dream megamall in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

The IDA claimed CAT tried to distance itself from Triple Five.

Holden Walter-Warner

Read more