Plaza Theatre property settlement imminent

Story By: LINDA LEUZZI
4/11/2013


The old Plaza Theatre property in East Patchogue is nearing its final metamorphosis hurdle. 

The two-acre site consisting of five parcels, owned by the town since January 2011, has been empty since the theatre’s takedown by the town in August 2011.

An April 2 town board resolution authorized an additional $650,000 to fund a settlement of the town’s condemnation of the former Plaza Theatre property. According to town attorney Annette Eaderesto, “the litigation is before the Supreme Court but this would settle the matter.” Eaderesto said once the case is settled, the town can sell the property.

The town has already made an advance payment of $1,180,000.

Councilman Tim Mazzei said the amount would be bonded. “Ultimately, we’re hoping to flip the property,” he said. “Mr. Frost is interested in it.”

Developer Robert Frost of Signature Properties owns the adjacent South Brookhaven Family Health Center building, a community resource since 1975, run by the county.

Frost said he’d heard about the impending settlement. “We’re working with the town and the village to get their input on what development would be best for the community,” Frost said. “The issue is that the Plaza Theatre site itself is relatively small but the accompanying sites includes the empty lot behind the clinic.” Those lots plus the Plaza site plus the Brookhaven Family Health Center building, “allows for significant rethinking of the streetscape along East Main Street and the location of buildings on the overall site,” he said.

“We would welcome having the health center stay,” he said, “and to working with them to make the facility more modern.”

Edmondo Schwartz’s company, East Main Realty Corp., owned the former Plaza Theatre site. Mazzei has said in the past there were repeated efforts to buy the property that included an offer by Evan Abazis, owner of Mediterranean Manor in East Patchogue. Led by Focus East Patchogue, the property was condemned by the town by former Supervisor Mark Lesko in October 2009. “Judge John Bivona does all the condemnations for Suffolk County,” Eaderesto said. “We have to do a stipulation of settlement and pay the company. Then we have to give the settlement papers to the judge. It should be settled in a month.”

Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri said he was scheduled to meet with Frost this week on the old NAPA Auto Parts building on Rider Avenue in the village, which Frost’s company owns. The roof of that building collapsed early February and the building was demolished.

Pontieri said he’s met with Frost a number of times over the years on the Family Health Center property and different uses on it.

“I think Frost understands that this is the eastern gateway to the village and it’s part of Patchogue, so the redevelopment of his property is critical to all of Main Street,” he said. “Whatever it may be, we want to make sure it conforms to a plan that moves the Patchogue community forward.”