The vacant 39-acre plot of land in Syosset known as the Cerro Wire site once again sits amid plans for possible construction and rejuvenation in the form an outdoor mixed-use community, this time courtesy of Oyster Bay Development, LLC, a partnership between Simon Property Group and Castagna Realty.
The real estate developer owns several major shopping malls located on Long Island and purchased the Cerro Wire site from the Town of Oyster Bay in 2014. Combined with their purchase of the neighboring 50-acre DPW Facility site, the total area involved extends to more than 90 acres, upon which the group is proposing to build a development—dubbed Syosset Park—that combines outdoor shopping, a community park, a theater, restaurants, parking, more than 600 residential living units and more.
Previously, the Cerro Wire site courted controversy in the surrounding community when previous developers attempted to purchase the land with plans to build a large indoor shopping mall. This was thwarted after intense public outcry. However, thus far, the outdoor mixed-use community proposed by Oyster Bay Development, while still drawing its share of criticism and commentary, is receiving a warmer welcome from local residents.
Charles Davis, senior development official for Simon, hosted a public workshop at the Millerage Inn in Jericho on May 13 and 14. He noted that this was the second in an ongoing series of two-day events designed to engage the community and get their feedback to the project. In addition, Davis said, Simon has set up a website and Facebook page where concerned residents can get information and submit comments.
“We wanted to make sure that we reached out to all of the folks who live here and would be affected by this,” he said. “We committed to them that we would not make full submittal of an application for a proposal until we actually got out and worked with the community through a series of workshops.”
The workshops at the Millerage Inn were comprised of a detailed explanation of the plans for the property, including commentary from several of the developers involved, as well as the gathering and answering of questions and concerns from community members in attendance.
Davis descried the public feedback as “tremendous,” stating that each meeting they have held thus far has drawn many civic-minded local residents. So far, the feedback has been constructive but generally supportive, he said.
“The overall consensus has been positive,” he said. “People are excited about the opportunity to take what’s right now a landfill and turn it into a park and to have their ideas put into what that becomes.”
Todd Fabricant is the chairman of the Cerro Wire Coalition, a group that is comprised of community groups who had opposed the previously plans to build an indoor mall on the property. Fabricant said that he likes what he’s seeing out of the developer in regards to their Syosset Park endeavor and is currently throwing his support behind the project.
“We’ve spent the past 18 years opposing the mall, and from what we’ve seen so far, this development is certainly more pleasing than the last project,” he said. “I think that they have very good ideas and that the presentation is excellent. They are very open to communication with the community. The developers are allowing residents to ask questions, voice concerns and are being very forthcoming with answers. This is only our second community meeting and many more will be held with even more information.”
Richie Staller of the East Birchwood Civic Association was one of the many locals who attended the meeting and chief among his concerns about the proposed Syosset Park complex was traffic.
“I’m very concerned with the traffic patterns, especially going down Robbins Lane and Birchwood Park Drive,” he said. “I don’t see any provisions to alleviate the problem of people cutting through out development to get to this project. That’s my major concern.”
Charles Canstanza of Syosset also expressed grievances regarding possible roadway congestion, but also said he was worried about possible pollution issues that might spring up at the construction site as well.
“I don’t know how the traffic is going to be with the situation the way it is now…I don’t know how it’s going to affect my convenience,” he said. “I’m also concerned about any possible contaminants that might be present on the site.”
However, if plans for Syosset Park advance, local residents will have quite a wait on their hands when it comes to seeing what form and shape the final project takes on.
Davis confirmed that the many hurdles that remain to be cleared will ensure that Syosset Park will likely not be open for business anytime soon.
“We have to go through an approval process with the town that will take a lot of time and we haven’t even made an application yet. We probably won’t until mid-to-late summer,” he said. “Then you have to go through the county for sub-division planning, the state, the plans and preparation…it will probably take two years to build it, so it will probably be 2018-19 before the first space opens and probably 2023-24 by the time it’s completely finished.”
To find out more about Oyster Bay Development’s proposed Syosset Park project, including news about upcoming public workshops and town hall meetings, visit www.syossetpark.com.