Triple Five chairman Nader Ghermezian and director of business development Stuart Bienenstock answer questions at the second and final session of the 'qualified and eligible' hearing March 19 at Pulaski Street School. File photo: Denise Civiletti

Riverhead Town officials have agreed to review the additional financial information Triple Five Group has offered to provide at the town’s request. 

The company will submit the additional information by Friday, Aug. 17, according to a letter from the company’s attorney to the town’s special counsel.

Triple Five, whose affiliate is a majority owner and managing member of prospective EPCAL purchaser Calverton Aviation and Technology, will provide the town with “a portion of the information requested” by the town last month, the company’s attorney, James Catterson, wrote in an Aug. 3 letter to the town’s attorneys, Frank Isler and Michael Heller.

The company will provide an updated confirmation by a nationally recognized auditing firm of the availability of funds for $40 million purchase, Catterson wrote. It will also provide a construction pro forma identifying the project cost and the ability of Triple Five to fund the construction, he wrote.

Triple Five has letters of interest from three lenders willing to finance the estimated $120 million development cost, Triple Five representative Stuart Bienenstock said in an interview Thursday.

The company will also provide a performance bond from Liberty Mutual covering its phase one buildout.

If the town requires additional nonpublic disclosure, Catterson wrote, the parties will have to negotiate a “comprehensive nondisclosure agreement” as well as a scope of review, the attorney wrote, “with the review ultimately conducted by a nationally recognized auditing firm.” Catterson did not address the question of who would be responsible for the firm’s fee, a previous point of contention between the parties.

It will also provide the town with a preliminary rendering containing detail of the proposed construction elevations, Catterson wrote.

Triple Five has retained the services of a NYC-based architectural firm as well as a local construction company to partner with its own longtime general contractor, PCL, Bienenstock said.

It has already completed a market study and economic impact study, he said.

“We are anxious to get started,” Bienenstock said.

“Until we see the details of their submission, we won’t know if it meets the criteria of the qualified and eligible rules,” Riverhead Town Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said today. The town board met with its counsel in executive session yesterday to discuss how to respond to Triple Five’s offer.

Triple Five’s affiliate, Triple Five Realty-1, is the majority owner and managing member of Calverton Aviation and Technology, a company it formed last year with Luminati Aerospace. Riverhead officials in December 2017 approved a purchase agreement between the Riverhead Community Development Agency and Calverton Aviation and Technology, pursuant to which the CDA will sell nearly all of its remaining vacant land in the Calverton Enterprise Park to the purchaser for $40 million. The contract was negotiated in furtherance of a letter of intent entered between the town and Luminati in April 2017.

The town’s approval of the contract last year was made subject to a finding that the buyer is a “qualified and eligible sponsor” following a public hearing, pursuant to N.Y. State General Municipal Law.

The Riverhead Town Board, sitting as the board of directors of the Riverhead Community Development Agency, which holds title to the land,
held the qualified and eligible hearing but following its conclusion requested additional financial disclosure of the applicant. The extent, nature and mechanism of the disclosure has been the subject of disagreement among members of the town board and between the town and Triple Five.

Bienenstock said the company is hopeful that the additional information it will provide will satisfy the town that Triple Five is capable of completing the proposed development.

Triple Five is a multi-billion dollar international conglomerate known for its megamalls/indoor entertainment facilities. It is currently completing construction on Americal Dream in East Rutherford, New Jersey, which Bienenstock said is slated to open next spring. American Dream will include the first indoor ski and snowboarding park in the Western Hemisphere, a Dreamworks indoor water park and a Nickelodeon indoor theme park. Work is also underway on the 468,000-square-meter Mall of China, a $4.2 billion project that will include the first Nickelodeon indoor theme park in Asia.

While best known for its “retailtainment” malls, Triple Five is involved in many other types of industries, including industrial real estate development, Bienenstock said.

Triple Five is in contract to purchase the 105-acre Dowling College Brookhaven campus for $14 million from a bankruptcy trustee. The campus, which formerly housed Dowling’s School of Aviation, is located adjacent to Brookhaven Town-owned Calabro Airport in Shirley. Triple Five sees the site as synergistic with its plans for EPCAL, Bienenstock said.

The sale of the Dowling campus, approved by a bankruptcy court judge in June, is expected to close by the end of this month, Bienenstock said Thursday.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.