A blight study presented to the Lynbrook village board Monday night gave supporting evidence for declaring the vacant Mangrove Feather Factory “eminent domain.”
A lawyer for the village introduced Charles Voorhees, a professional environmental planner, who was asked to conduct a detailed analysis of the Feather building located near the Lynbrook train station and the surrounding area, which he summed up during a public hearing at the Aug. 13 village board meeting. No decision was made by village officials, as they were seeing the draft report for the first time and thus, decided to keep the hearing open to continue the discussion next month.
Three buildings in this area are in deteriorating condition, Voorhees explained, adding, “The ones that stood out really are the eastern side of the block, where the former Feather Factory is.”
Since the factory, located at Stauderman and Broadway, was vacated around 2008, Voorhees found there have been numerous reports of public trespassing, skateboarding inside the building, graffiti, exposed gas lines, broken water heaters and pipes, blocked exits, the alarm system not up to standards, fire extinguishers not properly operated and other complaints.
“There was a good deal of public information and complaint records from the building department, fire marshal and police records,” Voorhees said.
“The area has tremendous attributes and there are many opportunities that this property and the entire block could realize based on proximity to the train station, the Nassau County bus system ... and the services of the downtown area,” Voorhees stated.
He also cited the 2009 Regional Planning Study, which identified the Feather Factory as “a prime property for revitalization and redevelopment.” He said the property could be utilized for transit-oriented development, which he explained is “primarily residential, but could have other uses,” and also said “hospitality would be a good fit.”
In his State of the Village Address in January, Mayor William Hendricks said three different businesses were interested in occupying the the Marriott Hotel, which signed a letter of interest to “begin the process” of acquiring the property.
Mr. Singer, a member of the LLC, which owns the property, spoke up during the hearing, saying “[the building] has tremendous potential.”
Singer touted his track record of constructing “the nicest buildings” in neighboring towns and winning an award for rehabbing a community in NYC. He said the LLC had a letter from the village’s building inspector indicating that the Feather Factory could be used for residential, commercial and industrial use, because it was grandfathered in.
“We had grand plans to rehab this building,” Singer stated, but accused “the town” of blocking the LLC’s attempts to develop the property and then “low-balling” them when they tried to sell it.
He said if the property is declared “eminent domain” the village will essentially be “stealing the building for nothing” from the LLC to allow a Marriot to be built there.
“I assume that’s what is going to wind up there,” Singer added. “Why not let a guy renovate his own building especially when I’ve won an award.”
Jeff Greenfield, vice president of the Lynbrook Chamber of Commerce, said he “found Mr. Singer’s comments to be fascinating … He talks about all these awards he’s won, but this building here in Lynbrook wins no awards. It's an embarrassment to the community.”
According to village officials, the LLC purchased the building for about $2.2 million prior to when the market took a nose-dive.
“The market has dropped, “Trustee Hilary Becker stated. “This board has done everything it possible can to work with the owner … and will continue to do so, but maybe the owner isn’t interested in investing in a declining asset.”