Port Jefferson shopping center redevelopment gets pushback

Staller Associates Realty plans to redevelop a Long Island shopping center into a mixed-use complex with hundreds of housing units, but — shocker — locals aren’t happy about it.

Community opposition is mounting against Staller’s proposal for Jefferson Plaza in Port Jefferson Station, Newsday reported. The Islandia-based developer is looking to transform the 1959-built shopping center by utilizing a 2020 Brookhaven town law permitting apartments in retail and commercial zones.

Staller’s plan for the 10-acre site includes 280 apartments — 20 percent designated for adults with developmental disabilities — and 49,000 square feet of commercial space for a food court, gym and additional shops.

The 112,000-square-foot shopping center already has a gym, paint store and coffee shop. But in recent years some tenants have left, including a Rite Aid pharmacy.

Staller executive Valentin Staller did not respond to Newsday’s request for comment.

Long Island was a focus of resistance this spring to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Housing Compact, which sought to alleviate the state’s housing shortage in part by encouraging projects like the one pitched by Staller. The legislature never voted on the governor’s bills.

Opponents are calling for the Staller project to be scaled down, voicing the usual concerns about the development’s size and traffic impact. The residential units would be on one side of the property, while the commercial space would be on the other, with a boulevard dividing them.

Jonathan Kornreich, a local representative on the town board, noted that residences could attract less traffic than retail stores would, but called on the town to commission a study. Kornreich also suggested Staller consider reducing the number of apartments, while acknowledging a truism of redevelopment.

“Any time there is a development, the developer always wants more units and the community wants less units,” the Brookhaven official told Newsday.

A public hearing on the project is scheduled for the end of the month. The developer needs the town board to approve the creation of an overlay district to allow the mixed-use project on commercially-zoned land. Brookhaven passed a measure in 2020 making that possible.

Holden Walter-Warner

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