Medford OTB site: Plaza Auto Mall off the table
Plaza Auto Mall is off the table at the former OTB site located on the Long Island Expressway South Service Road in Medford.

File photos

Medford OTB site: Plaza Auto Mall off the table

Story By: RANDALL WASZYNSKI
6/7/2018


 

Plaza Auto Mall Ltd. is no longer in talks with Off-Track Betting to acquire the lot at 440 South Service Road in Medford for automobile wholesale. The Medford Taxpayers and Civic Association’s most favored options for what is next are multifamily housing or office complexes.

An ECHL hockey arena was also a possibility, spearheaded by Bernard Shereck, CEO of Arena Management of New York Inc. Shereck presented the project at the March 28 MTCA meeting. The project’s investors, however, have become hesitant to comply since a proposal for a $1.1 billion arena in Ronkonkoma, just seven miles west, has gained traction.

Regarding the Medford parcel, Legis. Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue) said that he would be involved in bridging the desires of the community and the needs of OTB in such negotiations.

“If there’s any way I can help facilitate that, I’m open to it,” Calarco said. “That certainly would be a positive if we can find a buyer that both is looking to buy it at a price that OTB needs to get and is willing to do something that is in line with what the community is looking to see built there.”

MTCA president Brett Houdek reiterated the necessity of communication with OTB to ensure that Medford residents welcome what is next on the site.

“We need to jump on this parcel,” Houdek said. “We need to have a dialogue with OTB, and I want to help establish that to tell [Calarco] what the community wants for that parcel and to move forward on that as quickly as possible so that we don’t get in the same debacle.”

Decisions regarding the Ronkonkoma arena are being tabled since a traffic study and various other analyses are still necessary to complete. Completion of these processes typically ranges from six to 12 months, a timetable that MTCA has issues with waiting on.

OTB has the priority of moving the parcel, too, as owning it longer without generating revenue is not economic.

“I recognize OTB has to pay off their debt,” Houdek said. “So we may not be waiting for an arena.”

Suffolk OTB president Philip Nolan could not be reached for comment.

Two different real-estate developers have contacted Houdek, interested in building housing complexes. Neither, though, have entered conversation with the Town of Brookhaven, councilman Neil Foley said.

“If a developer would come to the planning department or to myself or [supervisor Ed Romaine], we’re always willing to sit down and talk to anybody,” Foley said. “But right now, we haven’t heard a thing.”

As the parcel is currently zoned commercial recreation alongside L1 zoning, incorporating residential purpose would require a zone change, authorized by the Town of Brookhaven.