While a sign on the old Sweezy’s at the Four Corners still says ground will be broken on the New Village project this fall, that timeframe is now slipping away due to a pending lawsuit filed by local business owners.
“We want to get started; we would get started if the lawsuit was dropped,” said Rob Loscalzo, chief operating officer of Tritec Real Estate Company Inc.
Tritec's was in April for 291 apartments, 46,000 square feet of retail space and 18,000 square feet of office space to be placed at the Four Corners intersection in Patchogue Village.
Loscalzo said that the lawsuit was regarding parking, but stated that a report from a third party consultant given to the Business Improvement District, the village trustees and Mayor Paul Pontieri said that the project has an excess of parking spaces at full capacity.
Pontieri said that the suit was filed by a number of local businesses owners, including the , , and Elisabeth McGuire, the wife of Village judge Christopher McGuire.
A plantiff in court filings in Suffolk County Supreme Court is listed as "67 WEST MAIN ST. LLC." That's the address of the BrickHouse Brewery.
In March, before the Village Board the project by a 4-3 margin, Thomas Keegan, co-owner of the brewery, spoke about parking concerns in front of the .
“We are a little tight on parking right now,” he said. “If we have to wait two more years, the economy’s gonna turn around someday, then maybe the hotel comes and that’s what’s when we spend $20 million to build the parking facility that we need.”
A 111-room hotel for the site was scrapped from the original plans in face of a sluggish economy.
The mayor told Patch Thursday that those behind the lawsuit are fighting against a public that supports the project.
“There are five people in the Village that have made a determination (of what) the majority of people want, (but) they don’t,” Pontieri said.
Pontieri said that the suit that is being held up is actually the second of two filed by the group, the first of which was dismissed. But a judge's decision on the second is still pending.
Pontieri said he believes the Village should prevail against the lawsuit, but he emphasized a need to move forward.
“It’s a $100 million investment in this community, it’s about jobs, it’s about property taxes, it’s about taking away a blighted corner," the mayor said of the northwest corner of North Ocean Avenue and West Main Street. "That corner’s been a blight now for 11 years, can’t go any longer on this."
Loscalzo was particularly upset that the project is at a standstill.
“I cannot believe that Mayor Pontieri, what he’s had to go through....This is a witchhunt, and I want to know why, why are we so afraid to stand up for people that are doing the right thing, and not have the courage to call someone out that we feel is not doing the right thing,” Loscalzo said.
Loscalzo said he questioned what the endgame is for the group that filed the lawsuits.
“Do they have another plan, do they not realize that we own the property, if this deal doesn’t go through, what is their plan?," he said. "Are they planning on indebting property and taking it from us...then what happens to the Village of Patchogue, what happens to all of the businesses who recently, since I have been involved that have told me we are excited about this moving forward...what are you going to tell them if it doesn’t go through?"
Kevin Brosnahan, an attorney for those behind the lawsuits, said that the motion is submitted, but would not comment further to Patch about it.
According to the Aug. 4 edition of The Long Island Advance, the two lawsuits raised challenged the Zoning Board of Appeals on the length of a parking spot, and the second addressed procedural issues in the New York State Environmental Quality Act, the adoption of the zoning code and whether the project involves illegal spot zoning.
In the meantime, as fall becomes winter, a vacant Sweezy’s building remains standing at the Four Corners intersection.