LI Herald: Lynbrook to bid farewell to feather factory in November
By Mike Smollins Posted August 18, 2021
Developers and village officials are eyeing November as the demolition date for the vacant former Mangrove Feather factory building, which will end more than a decade of attempts to repurpose the structure.
In its place will be a 210-unit apartment complex, which will cost between $90 million and $100 million to complete, and will be developed by the Garden City-based Breslin Realty. Mayor Alan Beach said he was excited to replace the former factory, which has been dormant since 2008.
“To get this done, I think it’s quite an accomplishment,” Beach said. “To develop a building that’s been vacant for almost 15 years and is an eyesore to the village, I think it’s going to be a great shot in the arm to the village, and it’s going to bring a lot of traffic downtown. How could it not be good for our village?”
Breslin is awaiting approvals from Nassau County and will then begin razing the structure, which will take six to eight months, followed by two years of construction.
David Orwasher, chief development officer for Breslin, will oversee the project after years of negotiations with the village and property owner Barry Singer. Orwasher hosted two meet-and-greets with the community — one of which was also held virtually — on April 1 and 6. The village then held a public hearing in May before approving the project June 6.
Though he did not respond to requests for comment at press time, Orwasher said at the May hearing that he would likely seek a payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, agreement with the town or county Industrial Development Agency to complete the project.
“As part of being a good steward, our pledge was to perhaps avail ourselves to a PILOT, but we will not reduce the taxes that the village or school district currently receive,” Orwasher said. “We will only grow the revenue and the receipts of the village, as well as the school and general taxes over time.”
The complex is to be a five-story building, with 55 studio apartments, 111 one-bedroom units and 35 two-bedrooms. Additionally, 10 percent of the units are to be designated as affordable workforce housing, for individuals or families at or below 130 percent of the area’s median income. Workforce housing generally includes those who are not typically eligible for affordable housing programs.
The building’s first two floors will house a parking garage, with 205 parking spaces for residents. Amenities will include a retail café, clubroom, concierge, rooftop terrace with a grill, lounge, party room and dog run. Experts have also estimated that owing to the large number of studios and one-bedroom apartments, six to 19 school-age children would likely be added to the district.
In May, Orwasher lauded the potential positives the project could net for Lynbrook. “This is a classic transit-oriented development,” he said. “It’s literally across the street from the village train station. It’s also going to replace a derelict building that has been vacant for over a dozen years. This particular location occupies what we believe is a pivotal location within the fabric of the village downtown.”
Chamber of Commerce President Cory Hirsch echoed Orwasher, noting that he believed the project would be “an enormous boon to our downtown businesses.”
“Lynbrook is doing pretty well right now . . . but there still are too many vacant stores,” he said, “and I think a project like this will bring in a lot of people and a lot of specialty shops.”
After it was vacated more than 13 years ago, several administrations have sought to develop the site, but it took many years to persuade Singer to sell the property. Orwasher said he thought the site was an ideal spot because of its proximity to the Long Island Rail Road station and to downtown shops and restaurants. Breslin negotiated with Colliers International’s Jordan Baruch and Matthew Kucker, who brokered the deal, before purchasing the property.
November will mark a major milestone for the village, as it ushers in the razing of the former factory site, while it is also the target date for the 80-unit, $24 million Cornerstone at Yorkshire apartment project to open. That plan also saw the end of a neighborhood nuisance, as it is being built where the controversial Capri Lynbrook Motor Inn used to operate. The motel, which was razed last June, was the site of many arrests for drugs and alleged prostitution over the years.
Developer Anthony Bartone, managing partner for the Farmingdale-based Terwilliger & Bartone Properties, said he was thrilled to see the project to come to fruition.
“We couldn’t be more excited about it,” he told the Herald last month, “and hopefully it leads to other opportunities in Lynbrook. We hope that we can demonstrate to the village how lovely these buildings can be. Putting this in place of an old motel is certainly a step up.”
FEATHER FACTORY: A TIMELINE
The building at 4347 Broadway has been a fixture in Lynbrook since the early 1900s. Village historian Art Mattson noted in his book, “The History of Lynbrook,” that it was originally known as the Bates Opera House, and owned by Ed Bates.
According to Mattson, the opera house was sold to Max Strassner and Jesse Bettmann in 1916, and they converted the building into a knitting factory. By 1917, the Atlantic Knitting Mills became Lynbrook’s largest employer, hiring 60 men and 60 women.
The property remained a source for development for many years, and eventually the Mangrove Feather Company moved into the ground floor. It produced feathers for the carnival and apparel industries.
In 1982, Reuben Marin purchased the 35,000-square-foot, three-story building and manufactured men’s sportswear for his company, English Sportswear. He distributed his products to well-known outlets such as Brooks Brothers, Saks Fifth Avenue and others.
In 2005, Marin was looking to close his business when he received what he described to a Herald reporter in a 2018 story as “a very compelling offer” from Barry Singer, and sold him the property.
Singer purchased the property to develop it, but clashed with village officials when they did not approve his plans to redevelop the building. There was once a proposal to build a Holiday Inn Express at the site, but nothing came of it. In 2011, hotel developer Lee Browning eyed the property as a potential place to build a Courtyard by Marriott, but that project did not come to fruition, either.
After failed negotiations, the relationship between Singer and village board members soured. The building was vacated in 2008, and shortly after, issues of graffiti, squatting, skateboarding and trespassing were frequently reported there.
In 2017, David Orwasher, the chief development officer for Breslin Realty, began negotiating with Singer, and they reached an agreement in March to build a 210-unit apartment complex there.
After two meet-and-greets between Orwasher and residents and a public hearing in May, the board unanimously voted to approve the project on June 6. In August, Mayor Alan Beach said the plan was to raze the building in November, a process that will take six to eight months. Construction of the project would then take another two years.