The Real Deal Tristate

First hotel in decades could come to Babylon, waterfront Centre Island property gets $3M price cut & more Long Island real estate news

By Aidan Gardiner | June 24, 2019 06:00PM

Clockwise from top left: The shuttered Shalimar Diner in Rego Park could relocate to Riverhead, a waterfront Centre Island property gets price cut down to nearly $9M, first hotel in decades could come to Babylon and a Lexus dealership could overcome Nassau County officals’ objections to take over an Art Deco bank building in Freeport.

Babylon, once a resort town, eyed for new hotel project
A limited liability company called Babylon Village Hotel Partners has submitted a preliminary application to the village for a development called Babylon Courtyard that would include 30 apartments, retail space, a large courtyard and a 70-room hotel, Newsday reported. The developers hope to erect the three-building complex on a little more than one-acre parcel in Babylon at 16 George Street that currently holds a bus depot. The three-story building would also surround a 12,000-square-foot courtyard for which the project would be named. The development company’s principals — Ross Cassata of the Amityville-based Cassata Organization, Chartwell Hotels CEO George Tsunis and Long Island construction magnate Roberto Nicolia (who pleaded guilty to tax evasion charges after Newsday published its story) — are in talks with the Babylon Industrial Development Agency about potential tax breaks for the project, their Melville-based lawyer Joseph French told Newsday. The developers have been holding meetings with locals and already altered some of their plans to accommodate some of the feedback they got from those conversations, Buzzell said. Newsday noted that Babylon was once a resort town, but hasn’t had a hotel in more than 30 years. [Newsday]

Waterfront Centre Island property gets a $3M price chop
A property on Centre Island that has three homes on two parcels has had its price cut to nearly $8.51 million, Newsday reported. The property with parcels at 404 Centre Island Road and 405 Centre Island Road listed for $12.5 million in August 2018, according to Zillow. That price gradually came down over the next few months, eventually settling to its current ask in May, per the property site. The current owner of the property, which Newsday did not identify, bought the parcels about three decades ago and combined them, the outlet reported. The combined 7.26-acre property has 653 feet of waterfront overlooking Oyster Bay and a 306-foot-long dock. The property’s main house was built in the 1950s and then renovated in 2010. The main house has six bedrooms, four bathrooms and two half-bathrooms. A guest house and a cottage also each have four bedrooms. The grounds also hold a pool, pool house, tennis court, putting green and two garages with room for a combined eight cars. Paul Mateyunas, Regina Rogers and Patricia Farnell of Douglas Elliman have the listing. Nearby, another waterfront Centre Island property at 207 Centre Island Road has hit the market at $6 million, Long Island Press reports. Vera Wiedenhaefer and Carol Cotton of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty have that listing in Centre Island, which is a 605-acre peninsula with more than four miles of coastline. [Newsday]

Car dealership zooms past apartment project in Freeport
Plans to replace the vacant Meadowbrook Bank building in Freeport with a Lexus car dealership are expected to proceed with local approval even after the Nassau County Planning Commission voted to reject them, Long Island Business News reported. The Huntington-based DiNoto Group sought to spend $60 million to build 250 rental apartments and 15,000-square-feet of retail on the four-acre site. DiNoto had a deal with the village, which terminated it to sell the site for $6.3 million to the Atlantic Auto Group. The change sparked a legal fight. County officials have tried to block plans for the dealership because they believed transit-oriented housing would be a better fit for a site close to Freeport’s Long Island Rail Road station. Freeport Village Attorney Howard Colton told LIBN that local approval supersedes that of the county. The property at 70 West Sunrise Highway includes the six-story former bank building, which has been empty since the 1980s. Freeport bought the property for $690,000 in 1991 and planned to redevelop it until those plans stalled. New York-based developer Time Equities had a contract with the town to turn offices in the Art Deco bank building, built in 1929, into apartments, but village officials terminated it, sparking a lawsuit. In 2015, plans to transform the property into a Marriott-branded hotel also amounted to nothing. While Freeport’s legal dispute with DiNoto is ongoing, a judge in the case has allowed redevelopment of the site to proceed. The Freeport Village Zoning Board of Appeals recently voted to raze the bank building ahead of its sale to Atlantic Auto. [LIBN]

Amid soaring home prices, Suffolk County’s lux market lags
Home sales on Long Island slowed in May as prices and inventory rose, with Suffolk County seeing the median price of pending sales hit $405,000 that month, up from $380,000 year-over-year and the highest mark in more than a decade. But several brokers told Long Island Business News that the lower end end of the market has been strong, which has helped push up home prices in Suffolk. Low interest rates and homes being generally more affordable than neighboring Nassau County has also helped Suffolk, where the top of the residential market is hurting. “People who bought their homes for $500,000 or $600,000, and the next step is a $900,000 or $1 million home—we’re seeing them do more renovations or expansions to their existing house than buying a more expensive home with higher taxes,” said Joseph Moshe, a broker-owner of Plainview-based Charles Rutenberg Realty, citing the impact of the new $10,000 deduction cap for state and local taxes. [LIBN] — Brian Baxter

Lenny Dykstra to help move Shalimar Diner to Riverhead
The former center fielder for the New York Mets has teamed up with Michael Perlman, founder of the Rego-Forest Preservation Council, and Manhattan real estate lawyer Ronald Hariri to try and move the Shalimar Diner from its now-shuttered home in Rego Park to Riverhead, the Long Island Press reported. The eatery, which opened in 1974, has made star turns in the CBS show “Blue Bloods” and Martin Scorsese’s film “The Wolf of Wall Street.” It closed last year when developers paid $6.55 million for the property it sits on and an adjoining lot at 63-68 Austin Street in Queens. In April, Perlman began his campaign to find someone to buy the diner structure and move it before its demolition. Dykstra and Hairiri will help pay for a professional “diner rigger” to carry the Shalimar Diner out east. It wasn’t immediately clear where in Riverhead the structure could eventually settle, but the Shalimar Diner is expected to reopen with brewery functions as part of its operation, according to news reports. Perlman previously helped relocate the Moondance Diner of SoHo and the Cheyenne Diner of Midtown. [TRD]

Abandoned Kings Park psych facility could find new life
New York legislators passed a measure to add the former Kings Park Psychiatric Center property to the Nissequogue River State Park and require the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to draft a development plan for the 365-acre site, Long Island Business News reported. The former psychiatric center, which closed more than 20 years ago, has long been in the crosshairs of several developers. The property was transferred to the state parks office in 2006 and while some of its brick buildings have already been demolished, many still stand. New York officials have previously tried to sell most of the remaining acreage at Kings Park and get some economic development on its remaining 365 acres. In 2001 and 2004, state officials picked a pair of mixed-use proposals that were subsequently abandoned when local residents and officials came out against them. In 2017, New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation put forward plans to build a 25,000-square-foot headquarters at Nissequogue River State Park for its Division of Marine Resources. Newsday also recently reported on Suffolk County legislators delaying a vote for at least a month on the $1.3 million sale of a tax delinquent former landfill in Kings Park, a hamlet within Smithtown. [LIBN]

Hempstead mulling code revisions to spur local development
Hempstead is looking to convene a panel of builders, civic leaders, planners and others to put together ideas on how to revise its town zoning code in order to streamline its permitting process and increase development, Newsday reported. The project, which comes on the heels of downtown revitalization efforts in Farmingdale, Patchogue and elsewhere on Long Island, will be the first major code review in more than 60 years, Town Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney told Newsday. Sweeney said the process will include revisions to promote mixed-use and transit-oriented housing construction. “We need to figure out what incentives we can give to encourage developers to support local residents in recreating downtowns,” Sweeney said. “It’s clear that there’s a real need to review and possibly update [the code] where needed.” [Newsday] — Brian Baxter