Pitching an upscale waterfront rental
The approximately two-acre property that spans two lots at the end of Mulford Street off West Avenue has a spectacular water view of the Patchogue River. Oil tanks were its inhabitants years ago and there is an empty old home and parking lots now graded with clean fill. But Anthony Bartone of Terwilliger & Bartone Properties is hoping to transform its look soon.
Bartone and his development associate Matthew Ambrosio sat down with the Advance to discuss the proposed project, which went before the Patchogue planning board Tuesday night.
The proposed development, a zoned industrial parcel, includes a three-story building with a rooftop clubroom and a marina. A full-time super and manager will be on-site for the 50 luxury rentals, all with balconies, that include six two-bedrooms, eight studios and 36 one-bedroom units. Ten percent will be set aside as workforce units. It’s pet friendly. One bedrooms start at $2,500.
Fifty-five boat slips will be rented out.
The investment? “Approximately $16 million,” said Bartone.
Bartone was asked if there would be a small communal nature area set aside.
“That’s interesting that you asked,” Bartone replied. “We’ll have what the village calls a promenade, a large brick area with benches so both the community and residents can sit by the water. We do have a nature trail at The Cornerstone in Hauppauge, but that’s nine acres and lends itself to a trail.”
With less property, the promenade was an alternative.
Were there specifics about buffers? “We have not gotten to the point of the greenery and landscaping yet, but we will address that,” said Ambrosio. “I know for sure we will be adding at least a 16-foot growth on the northern side and from the former application, we realize there will be requests on the eastern side as well. We understand with this kind of project there is always some anxiety in the immediate community and we are ready to address those concerns.”
Ambrosio said there would be two major parking sections, residents and marina patrons with a visitor area. He stressed again that the development would have full-time managed staff on the premises.
“Everything they are doing is within code,” said mayor Paul Pontieri. “They are hooking into the sewer system.”
Pontieri said because the project was still in the planning process, no public hearing was set earlier.
Jo Miller, who lives two houses south of The Oar Steak & Seafood Grill restaurant on West Avenue, was asked as a resident to comment. Her first concern was the quality of life for the community.
“I only learned about this fairly recently,” she said. “I’m sort of waiting to hear what they have to say. I’m concerned more about the music. They’ll have a rooftop clubhouse. Will there be music from the yacht club? Also, the units are expensive and there’s all this talk overall about affordable housing for young people and it’s not addressed, except for the small percentage of units put aside in developments.”
Miller was reserving judgment; she was attending the planning board meeting to hear what the developers had to say.
Dick Blakeslee, who owns The Oar Steak & Seafood Grill, is the property owner who purchased the parcel in 2009; Blakeslee is selling it to Terwilliger & Bartone.
“We’re in a contract/vendor agreement,” explained Bartone. “We will close and own it once everything is finalized.”
“It was a former spill site,” Blakeslee said of the parcel’s history. “Marran [Heating Oil] cleaned it all up. They got a letter from the DEC that it was cleaned properly, and I went in and put more clean fill in.”
Blakeslee will still have a hand in the site; he opted for a long-term lease with the developers to run the marina. “It will be a members-only yacht club,” he said.
Several projects had waxed and waned there before. It’s zoned industrial.
“I had a number of offers and projects, but I didn’t think those were conducive to the area and the river,” he explained. “I grew up on the river and my grandfather was a boat builder on the river, so I have a legacy to respect. I wouldn’t do the deal without some oversight; they showed me the elevations and public access.”
He was also in contract with the corner house on West Avenue and planned to move there, he said. Ambrosio said last week was the first time he saw the corner house on West and Mulford for sale.
“We don’t need that property to complete our project,” he said.
Blakeslee said the historic house off the Mulford Street entrance by the water on the south side, which is empty now, would be utilized for the yacht club.
“We’re pretty excited because Dick said it was a historic building and we’ll reposition it to make it look really nice,” Ambrosio said. Mayor Paul Pontieri said they would hook up to sewers.
A former development was considered on the property as Fatfish, which was first townhouses, then smaller rental units, going back about four years ago, Pontieri said. But it didn’t get off the ground.
Bartone said their company originally pitched a four-story building with 74 units and parking underneath. But, “we were going to need a height variance from the planning board and that was an issue,” he said.
“We met with the chamber and had a number of scoping and work sessions to cultivate the plan,” Bartone added. “We’re meeting with the River Association shortly.”
“The hearing will be the first meeting where residents can voice their concerns,” Ambrosio said. “Then we’ll meet with them afterwards. We posted notices to notify the public.”
Ambrosio said he’s already reached out to Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts to get involved with the community and spoke to PTPA board member Christopher Capobianco.
“We’re both native Long Islanders, so it’s important for us to support outreach projects,” he said. “Because of The Cornerstone in Hauppauge, for the Town of Islip we’re giving back to middle school students who perform Broadway Junior shows at their schools.”
Ambrosio has a makeup artist background; he’s mentoring students at Ronkonkoma Middle School on the intricacies of transforming characters through makeup. Their show, “The Little Mermaid,” is scheduled for next month. He’s also volunteered his skills for the Actors Fund and AHRC.
“We don’t want to throw money at people and just walk away. We’re also strong supporters of veterans and collect care packages for veterans and distribute them,” he said. On their upcoming volunteer list is Mondays at Racine in Islip and rescue shelters. “I also mandate my property managers to support mom and pop shops,” he said.
There are eight people in the organization based in Farmingdale, and staffers are hands on with the volunteer activities.
“My partner [J. Ronald Terwilliger] is the past chairman of the international board of directors for Habitat for Humanity,” Bartone explained. “We’re a small company, but we have the resources of a national one with Ron on board.”
Where Bartone and Ambrosio live is telling. Bartone resides in one of the developments he built in Farmingdale. As for Ambrosio, “I’m thinking I’ll be heading here,” he said of the new Cornerstone project in Patchogue.
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