“Enough is enough,” said Mayor Ed Fare as he announced the village’s intention to take possession of two vacant commercial buildings in Gibson through eminent domain, demolish them and find another use for the blighted property.
Last month, the village board unanimously approved an agreement with the law firm Sahn Ward Coschignano & Baker to begin eminent domain proceedings for the two buildings on Gibson Boulevard, behind the Long Island Rail Road station. The land is owned by Dr. Leonard Bleicher, of Hewlett, who has village approval to build an apartment complex on the site but has never started construction.
Bleicher has attempted to sell the property, but no deal has been struck. “I’ve heard about four times that there are buyers,” Fare said, “and every time it seems to fall through at the last minute. It’s enough.”
He added that he believes the deals keep failing because the asking price for the property is too high. At one point, it was listed by Massey Knakel Realty Services for $3 million.
The buildings, which once housed about a dozen businesses, have been vacant for three years. Most of the windows are boarded up, and the property has been a regular target of vandals.
John Farrell, an attorney at Sahn Ward, said that the village must have a hearing and determine a public use for the land before it can make the acquisition.
Fare said that there are several options for the land, and public sentiment will help determine its future use. One direction the village cannot take is to acquire the land and then flip it to a developer who would build the approved project. “Eminent domain has to benefit the public,” he explained.
One idea that appeals to Fare is senior citizen housing, perhaps a concept similar to Dutchgate in North Valley Stream. He said that there is a several-year wait for apartments in Monica Village, the only true senior housing complex in the village.