The building at 4347 Broadway has been a fixture in Lynbrook since the early 1900s. Village historian Art Mattson noted in his book, “The History of Lynbrook,” that it was originally known as the Bates Opera House, and owned by Ed Bates.
According to Mattson, the opera house was sold to Max Strassner and Jesse Bettmann in 1916, and they converted the building into a knitting factory. By 1917, the Atlantic Knitting Mills became Lynbrook’s largest employer, hiring 60 men and 60 women.
The property remained a source for development for many years, and eventually the Mangrove Feather Company moved into the ground floor. It produced feathers for the carnival and apparel industries.
In 1982, Reuben Marin purchased the 35,000-square-foot, three-story building and manufactured men’s sportswear for his company, English Sportswear. He distributed his products to well-known outlets such as Brooks Brothers, Saks Fifth Avenue and others.
In 2005, Marin was looking to close his business when he received what he described to a Herald reporter in a 2018 story as “a very compelling offer” from Barry Singer, and sold him the property. There were still tenants in the building at the time.
Singer purchased the property to develop it, but clashed with village officials when they did not approve his plans to redevelop the building. There was once a proposal to build a Holiday Inn Express at the site, but nothing came of it. In 2011, hotel developer Lee Browning eyed the property as a potential place to build a Courtyard by Marriott, but that project did not come to fruition, either.
After failed negotiations, the relationship between Singer and members of the village board soured. The building was vacated around 2008, and shortly after, issues of graffiti, squatting, skateboarding and trespassing were frequently reported there.
In 2017, David Orwasher, the chief development officer for Breslin Realty, began negotiating with Singer, and they reached an agreement last month to build a 210-unit apartment complex there, pending village board approval.