Luminati Aerospace owner Daniel Preston at a press event in Building Six at the Calverton Enterprise Park on June 16, 2017. File photo: Denise Civiletti

Luminati Aerospace owner Daniel Preston, 52, died at his home in Little Falls, New York on Thursday, Jan. 12.

The cause was cancer, according to a family friend.

Preston’s company is part owner of Calverton Aviation & Technology, the company in a $40 million contract with the Town of Riverhead to purchase nearly all of town’s vacant land in the Calverton Enterprise Park. Calverton Aviation & Technology, formed in 2017, is a joint venture of Luminati Aerospace and Triple Five Group.

A funeral service was scheduled to be held this morning in Forest Hills, Queens, followed by a committal service in Woodbridge, New Jersey, according to an online obituary.

Preston first came to the Town of Riverhead in 2015, when Luminati purchased the 16-acre Skydive Long Island property at the EPCAL site for $3.4 million. Preston told the Town Board at the time his company was developing solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicles that would be used to bring wireless internet to parts of the globe that lack access. He said he had a Fortune 250 client that was funding Luminati’s research and development project.

Riverhead Town in November 2015 approved a runway use agreement with Luminati, giving it control of the site’s active runway.

Promising to bring the defense aerospace industry back to Riverhead, Preston in June 2016 held a press event at the EPCAL site, where a “pilot-optional” prototype of an ultra-light aircraft made a demonstration flight. Preston announced at the event that he had entered into an agreement to manufacture an amphibious aircraft at EPCAL, which he said would be in full production by the end of October. He also announced Luminati had an agreement to lease the much larger Building Six, a 338,000 square-foot structure where Grumman Aerospace once built fighter jets.

In March 2017 Riverhead Town signed a letter of intent with Preston to sell 1,644 acres of vacant land to Luminati Aerospace or a wholly owned Luminati subsidiary for $40 million. The sale would effectively abandon a 50-lot subdivision of the land that Riverhead officials had been working to gain approvals for several years prior.

In December 2017, a lame-duck Town Board, in a 3-2 vote, approved a contract of sale with Calverton Aviation & Technology, jointly owned by Luminati Aerospace and Triple Five Real Estate I.

Controversial from the outset, the proposed sale drew criticism and objections from residents, civic groups and environmental organizations.

Riverhead Town has not been able to obtain required approvals from the State Department of Environmental Conservation for a modified three-lot subdivision that will allow the town to transfer title to Calverton Aviation & Technology and the sale remains pending.

After revelations of inconsistencies and fabrications about his background, Triple Five chairman Nader Ghermezian told the Town Board during a public hearing in 2018 that Preston would have no management role in the joint venture, though Luminati would continue to own a 25% share in the company.

In April 2019, Preston announced he was moving Luminati’s operations to the upstate City of Little Falls, New York, where he had already purchased a couple of commercial properties.

According to documents filed with the Riverhead Industrial Development Agency last year, Preston, through a shell company, retained ownership of the former Skydive Long Island site adjoining the 10,000-foot runway at EPCAL.

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