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Business Expansions and Contractions - Long Island Region May 2014

Business Expansions and Openings

Flushing Financial Corp., parent of Flushing Bank, is expanding and moving its corporate headquarters from Lake Success to Uniondale (both Nassau County).  The company has leased 90,000 square feet at RXR Plaza, where it will move 275 employees and pledges to add another 75 jobs within the next three years. 

 

Medford-based Suffolk Federal Credit Union opened a new branch in Southampton (Suffolk County) on June 5.  Suffolk Federal has more than $900 million in assets, seven branches and more than 53,000 members and is open to anyone who lives, works or worships in Suffolk County.

 

Air traffic control facilities in Westbury (Nassau County) and Ronkonkoma (Suffolk County) will remain open, saving 950 jobs previously at stake.  The FAA had originally planned to combine the Westbury and Ronkonkoma facilities into one larger air traffic control center that would serve the greater New York City region’s aerospace zone.  As part of that plan, the FAA was looking at areas off-Long Island for possible locations, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania and north of New York City.  Air traffic controllers at the Westbury and Ronkonkoma facilities have an average salary of $137,000 and the overall average salary at the two locations is $100,000.  Under the new, scaled back FAA plan, announced today, a high-tech, new air traffic control center will be built at Long Island MacArthur Airport.  But first, the FAA will make upgrades to the Westbury-based Terminal Radar Approach Control Facility and will consider making additional upgrades to the Ronkonkoma facility “at a later date.”  1,000 new construction jobs will be added to the Long Island region once the FAA commissions the long-awaited TRACON expansion project.

 

Long Island MacArthur Airport and Brookhaven Calabro Airport (both Suffolk County) will receive about $5 million in federal funding for infrastructure repairs.  MacArthur will receive nearly $3.6 million from the federal Department of Transportation to build out the airport's taxiway for better aircraft traffic efficiency, while Calabro will receive $1.5 million for improvements to its taxiway lighting and guidance systems.

 

The chief executive of South Nassau Communities Hospital said he hopes to have a temporary emergency facility operating in Long Beach (Nassau County) by July 1, the day after the Oceanside hospital takes possession of the defunct Long Beach Medical Center.  In mid-May, a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge approved the sale of financially ailing 162-bed Long Beach Medical Center, closed since being heavily damaged by superstorm Sandy in October 2012, to 435-bed South Nassau for $12 million. The adjoining nursing home, which reopened four months after the storm, was sold to another buyer, Michael Melnicke.  Meanwhile, South Nassau notified the state April 30 -- before the sale -- that it planned to lay off 372 employees at the Long Beach hospital and nursing home.  The WARN notice said "separations" will occur between July 17 and July 31.  But Sharon Player, spokeswoman for the Long Beach facility, said only about 273 employees remain, 225 of them working in the nursing home and 48 in the hospital. Of those 48, South Nassau said it is "carefully evaluating each individual" on a case-by-case basis.  As for the nursing home, an attorney said the new management would offer jobs to workers but not executives.

 

Developer Lee Browning has secured approvals to build two more hotels.  Browning, principal of Browning Realty Management, was approved Tuesday for consideration to receive economic benefits from the Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency for a 102,000-square-foot, 122-room Hilton Homewood Suites hotel on 2.45 vacant acres next to Browning’s existing Courtyard at Marriott in Ronkonkoma (Suffolk County).  The developer is also planning to construct a 140-room Marriott Residence Inn on a 3.5-acre parcel adjacent to his existing Hilton Garden Inn in Riverhead (Suffolk County).

 

A $32 million Hilton Garden Inn has received local planning approval to be built in Port Washington (Nassau County), the first branded hotel in northwestern Nassau County.  The 165-room hotel is scheduled to break ground in October and is expected to be completed in early 2017, said Paul Amoruso of Melville Hospitality, one of the developers.  Amoruso said he expects it will create 70 permanent jobs and 350 temporary construction jobs.

 

The Huntington (Suffolk County) town board has voted 5 to 0 to give a certificate of approval to a developer to move forward with a plan to build a 54-room hotel using the old Town Hall at 227 Main St.  The hotel will include two buildings connected by a glass atrium, with the existing building used for a lobby, reception area, office space, conference room and bar.  The project has been in the works for about six years, and officials hope construction will begin in the fall.

 

A second SpringHill Suites hotel is being planned for a vacant lot in Carle Place (Nassau County) by the same developer who opened the adjacent suites hotel last year.  Thirty-eight people will eventually work there full time, earning $27,152, on average, per year.

 

Concern for Independent Living, Inc. has been awarded $7.5 million in capital funding through the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Homeless Housing and Assistance Program (HHAP) to develop a 123-unit mixed-use supportive housing project in Middle Island (Suffolk County).  Concern Middle Island will be a walkable community that includes 123 apartments in a townhome-style setting. It will also offer a recreation center with staff offices, community room, computer room, exercise room, as well as on-site laundry facilities and off-street parking.   Construction is anticipated to begin in late 2014.

 

The Hempstead Town Board approved a controversial plan to turn the site of a vacant school building in Seaford (Nassau County) into a $45 million senior housing complex.  The zoning change makes way for development of The Seasons at Seaford, a 112-unit condominium complex for residents 62 or older on the Seaford Avenue School property at Seaford and Waverly avenues. The development would restrict those younger than 18 from living there.  They hope to break ground by the end of the year.

 

On the heels of its successful rental housing development in Rockville Centre (Nassau County), Virginia-based multifamily developer AvalonBay Communities plans to build an additional apartment complex right next door.  AvalonBay is in contract to buy the Rockville Racquet Club, located across the street from its existing 349-residence development, and plans to create a phase two that will be “similar in size” according to a statement.

 

The developer of a proposed 109-unit apartment complex on the grounds of the former Oakdale Golf Center (Suffolk County) received the green light from the Islip Town Board last week.  The project includes three- and four-story buildings with rental apartments at the site.  Officials hope to break ground by the end of the year.  The board also unanimously approved change-of-zone applications for a 30 apartment project and a 32 apartments project in Bay Shore; and a Great River complex of 80 senior apartments.  The board also approved plans to build a leasing office at a Central Islip apartment complex at the corner of Hawthorne Avenue and Motor Parkway.

 

The Brookhaven IDA has accepted the application of Port Jefferson (Suffolk County)-based Rail Realty, a division of the Gitto Group owned by local developer Anthony Gitto, for consideration of tax breaks for a 74-residence rental apartment building on 1.6 acres two blocks from the Port Jefferson Long Island Rail Road station.

 

Accelerate Long Island and the Long Island Emerging Technologies Fund have approved the disbursement of $500,000 for five biotech and energy startups in what could be the start of a new source of cash for Long Island firms that could soon include millions more.  The Accelerate Long Island seed fund and its partners, venture capital firms Topspin Partners and Jove Equity Partners, approved $100,000 each for the five startup companies, which included Goddard Labs, Green Sulfcrete, PolyNova, SynchroPET and Traverse Biosciences.  Goddard Labs is developing tests for pathogens in agriculture, Green Sulfcrete is developing an environmental variation on concrete based on sulphur, and PolyNova is developing a new heart valve.  SynchroPET is developing a new variation on PET scans for animals and Traverse Biosciences is developing pills to prevent and treat periodontic (or gum) disease in dogs.  The five firms will use the money to develop prototypes, buy materials and otherwise seek to turn technology into products and, potentially, profits.

 

Boston-based sporting goods retailer City Sports will open a 12,000-square-foot store in Manhasset (Nassau County) sometime this summer, according to a company statement.  It will be the chain’s first Long Island location and its largest store to date.

 

The Walmart in Valley Stream (Nassau County) celebrated its re-opening June 11, after expanding the store to 180,000 square feet.  The addition makes room for a new fresh produce and groceries section and another 95 jobs, according to a company statement.

 

Target will held a job fair May 23 to hire up to 250 full-time and part-time employees for its new store in Sayville (Suffolk County), which is scheduled to open in July.

 

Los Angeles-based Forever 21, a specialty retailer of women’s and men’s clothing and accessories, opened a 9,700-square-foot store at the Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station (Suffolk County) on May 21.  The chain already has two other Long Island stores, one at Roosevelt Field in Garden City and another at the Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove.

 

Fewer teachers and other school workers face layoffs next year than in the recent past under district budget proposals overwhelmingly approved May 20, local and state officials.  For a growing number of districts, the news is even better. They're hiring again in order to expand student services or restore programs lost during the recession, officials said.  A recent Newsday survey of 124 districts in Nassau and Suffolk counties found a similar trend toward fewer job eliminations.  Twenty-three districts reported plans to hire teachers or other staff, adding a combined total of 411 positions. Thirty-five other districts said they expected to shed positions, mostly through retirements or resignations, for a reduction of 256 jobs.  In contrast, a Newsday survey two years ago found that districts planned to eliminate more than 1,100 jobs across the region.

 

PSEG Long Island has approved St. John’s Cemetery, a nonprofit religious corporation that operates four cemeteries and has parish management agreements for others, for a 10-megawatt solar project at St. John’s Annex Cemetery in West Babylon (Suffolk County). About 33,000 photovoltaic panels would be spread over 35 acres of the 114-acre site occupied by only 18 graves.  This would be the second largest solar array project in the region, behind only the 32-megawatt project done with BPSolar at Brookhaven National Laboratory.  Construction on the St. John’s Cemetery solar array could begin as early as the end of this year and be completed by mid-2015, assuming the project receives necessary approvals, Rizzo said.

 

 

Business Contractions and Closings

 

PenAir is pulling its two daily nonstop flights to Boston from Long Island MacArthur Airport (Suffolk County), less than a year after first landing in Ronkonkoma.  The Alaska-based airline, which runs service between Boston and various smaller airports around the Northeast, has scheduled its last Long Island-Boston flights for July 11.  PenAir’s arrival was followed shortly by an announcement that Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air would run nonstop flights from MacArthur to Punta Gorda, Fla. Allegiant recently suspended that service until December, citing an increased need to station its planes at other airports.  With PenAir departing and Allegiant on standby, LIMA will once again be left with just two airlines: Southwest and U.S. Airways.  The airport has about 8,000 departing flights a year. It lost 46 percent of its daily flights between 2007 and 2012, and has lost nearly $4.2 million since 2011. MacArthur is estimated to have lost another $1.4 million last year, while the town grapples with an $11.3 million deficit.

 

Pizza chain Sbarro says it has exited bankruptcy protection and is moving its headquarters from Melville (Suffolk County) to Ohio.  Sbarro says it will move its company headquarters to Columbus, Ohio, to reduce expenses and be closer to its new Pizza Cucinova business, which lets people build their own pizzas.  The company says 43 jobs at its old headquarters in Melville will be eliminated, but its other 2,700 employees nationwide won’t be affected.

 

Global staffing company Adecco is laying off 154 workers in Melville (Suffolk County) as the company moves to its new North American headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida.  That number is down from its initial estimate of 185, as workers find "opportunities" elsewhere.  About 20 Melville workers are "seriously considering" a move to Jacksonville and are in talks with the company, according to a company spokesperson.  In a filing with the state Department of Labor, the company said about 200 would be transferred to other Melville locations.  Layoffs of the 154 remaining employees will occur in phases between Aug. 29 and Dec. 31, the company said in the filing.  The company spokeswoman said between 250 and 300 service center and information technology employees at multiple locations are expected to remain on Long Island after the move to Florida. That compares with an earlier estimate of 250, she said.

 

The Half Hollow Hills School District in Dix Hills (Suffolk County) plans to lay off 14 teachers from grades K-12 due to school closures.

 

LabCorp is closing a medical lab in Uniondale (Nassau County) resulting in the elimination of 24 jobs.

 

Acme Bus Corp in Coram (Suffolk County) plans to lay off 58 employees on June 16, due to the loss of a contract.  Baumann and Sons Buses, Inc., plans to lay off 100 employees from their Copiague bus terminal (Suffolk County), due to the loss of their contract with the Lindenhurst School District.

 

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