Planned mixed-use development likened to ‘town center’ of Mount Sinai


A mixed-use development project proposed for a 30-acre lot off Route 25A in Mount Sinai — called Mount Sinai Meadows — is expected to bring a village square-type feel to the hamlet.

The idea is that a village square would help attract millennials to the area, and provide a better use for the property than previous plans, according to town officials.

At a Brookhaven Town Board meeting last month, planning commissioner Tullio Bertoli called the latest project “a true town center of Mount Sinai.”

Bertoli said that Mount Sinai was one of five towns in a 25A corridor study that was initiated in 2012. This property was specifically singled out for development but one early proposal consisted of a dense complex of retail and office buildings.

But, Bertoli said that the single-use zoning for the property did not “adequately reflect the contradictory or complexity of the uses that surrounded it.”

The new proposal, put forth by the developers Basser Kaufman, LLC, consists of a better mix, officials said.

A rezoning request would open up development for 21.78 acres of 140 one and two-bedroom rentals and 8.3 acres for retail. There would also be a large parcel set aside for an open area the developers call a “Great Lawn.”

About 10 percent of the rentals will be designated as workforce housing, as required by state law.

The property would be accessed from Myrtle or Vincent Streets — both on the south side of Route 25A, according to plans, and would balloon behind the King Kullen shopping center.

Chick Voorhis, environmental planning consultant for Melville-based Nelson, Pope & Voorhis represented Basser Kaufman at a March 14 Brookhaven Town meeting.

He said he had worked on the previous project, called Mount Sinai Village Center.

That project called for more land to be developed including 185,000 square feet of retail, a 3,000 sq. ft. bank and 37,000 sq. ft. office building with no residential aspect. Voorhis called it an “intensive use of the site.”

Mount Sinai Meadows, in contrast, includes 146,000 square feet of residential construction, the public “Great Lawn” expanse, and a retail portion of about 85,000 square feet that would include a bank and a restaurant.

“Much more green,” Voorhis said of the new project.

There would also be a 130-foot natural buffer to the rear of the property.

Officially, Basser Kaufman is seeking a change of zone from J Business 2 to Planned Development District (PDD) from the town.

“This plan [Mount Sinai Meadows] is in the spirit of those initial efforts we made in Mount Sinai,” Bertoli said.

The Mount Sinai Civic is supporting the project, but that support comes with caveats.

One is that the developers not take any kind of tax relief for the property. Anne Becker, President of the Mount Sinai Civic Association said the organization would pull their support of the development if they applied for a PILOT (payments in lieu of taxes) program and that the developers assured them they were not thinking of applying for tax incentives.

When plans were being scoped out, Becker said the civic also insisted that a residential development not contain age-restricted apartments.

“About 20 percent of housing in Mount Sinai is senior housing,” said Becker. “The civic felt it was important to broaden our offering of housing.”

The choice to put in rentals marketed to young professionals who are finding it harder to find quality housing on Long Island was supported by the civic.

Maureen Bond, a 24-year resident of Mount Sinai and also a member of the civic association, said this was the best plan presented so far.

“Young adults are leaving our state in leaps and bounds,” she said.

Bond’s daughter left Long Island to take a job in Texas, and to find more affordable housing. She doesn’t plan to return.

Stephen Losquadro, an attorney who also represented Basser Kaufman at the town meeting, said the project would include amenities that should appeal to the 20- to 34-year-old demographic.

He called that age group an increasing population on Long Island.

“There is not appropriate housing for young individuals,” Losquadro said. “Particularly in the Town of Brookhaven.”

He said many of the opportunities that do exist are “not in appropriate or meaningful areas where they can live.”

Mount Sinai Meadows aims to address that.

Some of the characteristics of the development that Losquadro said should attract young professionals includes its location, which is close to Stony Brook University, three major hospitals (Stony Brook, Mather and St. Charles), Stony Brook University’s Research and Development Park, and Brookhaven National Lab.

He also pointed to amenities they plan to include like bike racks, community barbecues, a gym, WiFi and charging stations throughout the residential portion, a dog play area, and car charging stations.

Amid the support is a smattering of opposition.

According to representatives, there have been eight letters from people opposed to the project.

A written comment period for the Town of Brookhaven ran through April 14.

Traffic issues would need to be addressed.

But for Bond — the Mount Sinai resident and civic member — with young people fleeing Long Island the alternative is far worse.

“Traffic is better than no traffic,” she said.