Hardy Plumbing
June 21, 2006

Housing At Calverton?


After a questionable executive session on June 9, the Riverhead Town Board has decided to entertain a Pulte Homes proposal that would result in housing on the town's property at Enterprise Park at Calverton.

This deal," said Cardinale, "is the best we are going to get, if we want to develop the property. If this transaction does not go through, our only alternative is to land bank."

According to Cardinale, he and his colleagues, during the executive session, agreed to send a letter to Pulte saying that the town is willing to negotiate with them.

Riverhead Supervisor Phil Cardinale has maintained that the executive session was warranted since a purchase price was being discussed. However, Bob Freeman, executive director of the State's Committee on Open Space argued that a real estate deal can only be discussed in private, if the price of the property will be adversely affected if discussed in public.

That would not be the case, given the past history of negotiations of the property in which the purchase price was made public, said Freeman.

The proposed contract with Pulte, according to Cardinale, would result in the sale of 775 acres of town land to the well-known home builder for $91 million. Pulte will use 300 acres to construct a 464-unit "Del Webb" active adult community for persons 55 and older that will By Erica Jackson

After a questionable executive session on June 9, the Riverhead Town Board has decided to entertain a Pulte Homes proposal that would result in housing on the town's property at Enterprise Park at Calverton.

This deal," said Cardinale, "is the best we are going to get, if we want to develop the property. If this transaction does not go through, our only alternative is to land bank."

According to Cardinale, he and his colleagues, during the executive session, agreed to send a letter to Pulte saying that the town is willing to negotiate with them.

Riverhead Supervisor Phil Cardinale has maintained that the executive session was warranted since a purchase price was being discussed. However, Bob Freeman, executive director of the State's Committee on Open Space argued that a real estate deal can only be discussed in private, if the price of the property will be adversely affected if discussed in public.

That would not be the case, given the past history of negotiations of the property in which the purchase price was made public, said Freeman.

The proposed contract with Pulte, according to Cardinale, would result in the sale of 775 acres of town land to the well-known home builder for $91 million. Pulte will use 300 acres to construct a 464-unit "Del Webb" active adult community for persons 55 and older that will be transferred to the town for public use. Pulte will also build a hotel/conference center on 50 acres.

As a sweetener, said Cardinale, Pulte will erect a $1 million, two-bay ambulance barn and a town recreation center on 125 acres that will be donated back to the town.

Also as part of the deal, Pulte will be required to contribute land as open space. Approximately 280 are being contemplated.

To make the deal happen, a zone change will be necessary, said Cardinale. It is a modification, Cardinale said the town board is willing to contemplate.

Under the site's current zoning, only 216 homes on four golf courses are permitted.

The zoning would have to be amended to increase the number of houses permitted and change the golf course requirement to instead obligate the builder to donate land for open space.

"We are very enthusiastic about this deal," said Cardinale, who noted that officials from Pulte flew in from Arizona last week to discuss the terms of the deal with Deputy Town Supervisor Chris Kent.

This is the first time that the town board has agreed to contemplate a zone change to accommodate a developer's proposal at EPCAL.

Asked if he thinks a zone change would inspire new developers to submit better offers than Pulte's, Cardinale said that could very well be the case. He urged those with proposals to submit them.

"All proposals will be considered," said Cardinale.

Pulte came to the town board as a result of a November Request for Proposal in which the board asked developers to submit proposals for a hotel conference center.

At the time, it was expected that Staten Island developer Kenneth Wilpon would enter the race, however, he was not heard from.

Wilpon previously offered the town $66 million for the land. He proposed to build, at a cost of $150 million, 108 luxury senior homes, an indoor golf school, two state-of-the-art golf courses and a 290-room hotel/conference center, complete with villas. He was in negotiations with the town for several months before a looming lawsuit halted negotiations in October 2005.

According to Cardinale, a concerned resident was questioning an RFP that Wilpon responded to over the summer.

Cardinale said the potential litigation "might delay the consummation of the transaction," and that would be "unacceptable to both parties."

The deal was put on hold and a new RFP was issued.

It is expected that Pulte will be required to participate in a qualified and eligible sponsorship hearing early as early as next month. The hearing, which is required by law, asks Pulte to prove it has the financial wherewithal to purchase the land and bring the project to fruition.

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