Triple Five chairman Nader Ghermezian, left, attorney Christopher Kent, and Triple Five vice chairman Justin Ghermezian at a Riverhead Town Board work session June 10, 2021. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Attorneys for the Triple Five affiliate in a $40 million land deal with Riverhead Town to buy 1,644 acres at the Calverton Enterprise Park are scheduled to meet today with attorneys representing the town and the Riverhead Industrial Development Agency to discuss a joint application for IDA assistance in the proposed development of vacant industrial land at the enterprise park.

Christopher Kent, an attorney for Calverton Aviation & Technology, an affiliate of Triple Five Group, said yesterday his clients and the town are getting close to filing the joint application for IDA financial benefits.

“We’re ready to go,” Kent said. “We finished all of our economic studies and analysis. We’re working on the joint application and have an attorneys’ pre-submission meeting tomorrow to talk about the application itself,” he said.

The town and CAT agreed to make the joint application to the IDA as part of a deal struck in March to bring the $40 million real estate transaction to a conclusion. The March agreement requires the joint application to be submitted by CAT and the town, and accepted and deemed complete by the IDA within six months of the town board’s March 24 resolution authorizing the agreement — by Sept. 24.

Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said in an interview yesterday she sent “a strong letter” to CAT last week “regarding their responsibilities of abiding by the timelines” for the IDA application. “They had not been in touch with the IDA,” she said. She said Riverhead IDA director Tracy Stark-James told her Monday afternoon that a pre-submission meeting had been scheduled.

Closing of the sale has been hung up because the town has not been able to complete the land subdivision it needs in order to convey title to the 1,644 acres. The town still owns 2,107 acres inside the enterprise park and is retaining roughly 463 acres for various public purposes, such as preservation, parkland, a community center and wastewater treatment facilities. Therefore, the town must subdivide the land and in order to do that, must obtain permits from the State DEC. The town’s effort to obtain those permits has stalled over a fight with the state agency about whether the Riverhead Water District has the capacity and the right to serve the new industrial development.

Under the terms of the deal struck early this year, memorialized in a town board resolution adopted March 24, the town and CAT will file a joint application for IDA benefits to assist CAT in developing phase one of the project outlined in a November 2018 purchase agreement between CAT and the town. That agreement states the company will build out at least 1 million square feet of commercial and industrial space at the site beginning within 18-24 months of receiving all required approvals.

If the IDA, after considering CAT’s financial and project information decides not to approve the application for benefits, the town has the right to declare the November 2018 agreement “null and void.”

If the IDA determines CAT is has the financial ability to perform its obligations under the 2018 purchase agreement and approves the application for benefits, the town will transfer title to all 2,100 acres to the IDA and CAT will pay the balance of the $40 million purchase price to the town — CAT already made a $1 million contract down payment. CAT will assume the obligation of completing the land subdivision.

The lease and project agreement with CAT will require the company to:

  • obtain final approval of the land subdivision required by the 2018 purchase agreement;
  • enter into a PILOT agreement with the IDA for the payment in lieu of taxes on the land and commercial development;
  • preserve and maintain 1,000 ares of undeveloped land pursuant to State DEC-approved comprehensive habitat plans;
  • pay for the installation of lighting at four ballfields at Veterans Memorial Park within six months of signing the lease and project agreement with the IDA;
  • pay the Riverhead Community Development Agency $1.5 million for recreational and community benefits upon completion and occupancy of 500,000 square feet of new construction at the site;
  • pay the state transfer tax, the Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund Tax and the town’s costs and expenses incurred for preparation of the joint application to the IDA, including attorney fees;
  • pay all fees and expenses of the IDA and town, including attorney and consulting fees, preparation of a cost-benefit analysis and feasibility reports, title reports, surveys, environmental audits, recording fees and charges.

The March 24 resolution also requires CAT to diligently pursue a final authorizing resolution from the IDA approving the joint application within three months from the date CAT’s application is deemed complete “unless a different time parameter is set by the IDA.”

Kent said yesterday he fully expects the joint application for benefits will be accepted and deemed complete by the IDA within the six-month time frame agreed to in March.

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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.