Monday night marked the second straight village board meeting at which developers who are looking to turn the vacant Mangrove Feather factory into an apartment building failed to appear as scheduled to present their ideas to Lynbrook officials and residents.
“There were residents in the audience obviously curious about the project,” Lynbrook Mayor Alan Beach said after the meeting. “I’m sorry that they were unable to have the opportunity to hear and comment on the project. The village is still looking to move forward.”
Since November, village officials have been in talks with representatives of the Garden City-based Breslin Realty Development Corp. and David Singer, the factory’s owner, about brokering a deal to improve it. The building, at Broadway and Langdon Place, has been vacant since 2008 and has been a longtime village eyesore.
David Orwasher, Breslin’s chief development officer, was scheduled to attend a Dec. 11 board meeting at Village Hall to present his plans. Beach told the audience that night that Orwasher had to cancel at the last minute, but would come to the Jan. 22 meeting. His presentation was supposed to be followed by a public hearing, at which residents would have had a chance to ask questions and voice their concerns and ideas.
Beach said he has been in regular contact with Orwasher about the plans, but he did not get a call back from him when Beach reached out last week to see whether he would appear at Monday’s meeting. The mayor added that even though Orwasher was once again a no-show, Beach still had confidence in his commitment to the project.
“The village board will get the project done,” he said. “I’m a little disappointed we didn’t get a return phone call from Mr. Orwasher informing the village that he was unable to attend the board meeting and make his presentation so we could move forward with the public hearing.”
Calls requesting comments from Orwasher and Breslin Realty were not returned as of press time.
Beach said in December that the proposed building would have about 102 one-bedroom apartments and 111 parking spaces. The first floor would be a garage, and Breslin has also purchased a vacant lot on the west side of Langdon Place for additional parking. The apartments would be geared toward millenials, single residents and seniors looking to downsize. The complex would be a prime location for commuters because of its proximity to Lynbrook’s Long Island Rail Road station, the mayor added.
At Monday’s meeting, the board of trustees opened the public hearing and adjourned it to a later date. Trustees also opened and adjourned a public hearing on adding the feather factory building to the Cultural Arts Overlay District. A vote in favor of the district would enable village officials to act as the lead agency in determining what would happen next to the building.
Village officials met with Singer on Nov. 9 to start the negotiations to improve the building. On Nov. 20, Singer brought in Orwasher, who presented his ideas and renderings for what would be called the Feather Building.
Beach said he was unsure what the holdup was, but he believed the negotiations between Breslin and Singer may still be ongoing. The delay “is not the village,” Beach said. “The village is looking to move forward.”
Though Lynbrook residents could not voice their opinions at Monday’s meeting, the Herald asked them for feedback.
Many said they believed the apartment complex would be good for the village because it would improve the business district. Others said they believed that apartments could bring some problems, potentially exacerbating parking and traffic issues near the downtown shops. Others, meanwhile, said they would like to see the building used for markets or other businesses.
Resident Peggyellen Feehan said she favored the apartment plan. “High-end apartments geared toward young professionals, if developed correctly, would be great,” Feehan said. “Just look at the turnaround that is happening in Farmingdale with the same development ideas.”
Jim Ryan said he was concerned by the potential increase in traffic on busy streets, but he was uncertain what the building should be used for. “An apartment complex so close to the LIRR might be a difficult selling point,” he said. “It’s 24/7 train traffic. Its proximity to the Jewish Centre probably precludes a bar or restaurant, and it’s too small for a hotel, and again the train noise might be an issue.”
Laura Bien Gulliksen said that, because of the village’s parking issues, especially with the Regal movie theater slated to open in March, turning the feather factory into a large parking garage might be a good solution. “Commuter parking, maybe ground-floor, paid parking,” she said. “It would free up metered parking spaces in commuter lots for patrons of local restaurants and local business customers.”
Though Beach said he believed the apartment plan would come to fruition, he noted that he is keeping an open mind about the site. “I’m open to any ideas — any ideas,” he said.
He said he expected Orwasher to present his ideas on Feb. 5, followed by a public hearing.