By Jano Tantongco
Plans to convert the Huntington Quadrangle to at least partial residential use were among several plans recently presented at the latest public workshop of the Melville Employment Center.
There are three potential plans for the space.
Plan A involves no change in zoning, keeping the 1,225,000-square-foot complex solely for office space use, while adding an additional 400,000 square feet. Plan B would add a residential component to the Quadrangle through a 575,000-square-foot expansion that would create 523 residential units on three and four floors. Plan C would bring both residential and retail uses to the Quadrangle. In that plan, 400,000 square feet would be added for housing and 70,000 square feet would be for retail space. This plan would create 364 residential units, also on three and four floors.
The Town of Huntington held a series of public workshops, beginning in June 2015, to draw input from residents, businesses, workers and stakeholders to help steer the development of the MEC, according to the outlines of the town’s Horizons 2020 comprehensive plan.
Town spokesman A.J. Carter said that the plans are purely conceptual at this point and no applications relating to the re-development have been filed with the town.
Frank Fish, one of the principals at BFJ Planning, the planning consulting firm hired by the town, said Wednesday that the planning process is three-quarters complete. Next, the firm will issue a draft report taking into account feedback from workshops.
“It could be a win-win for the town, residents and the employers,” Fish said, noting that he expects a final report to be issued sometime next month. “The impacts of it should be positive.”
He said that the firm has two goals in mind with the plan. First, they aim to make the MEC as competitive as possible in light of a changing office market. Second, they want to preserve “as best as possible, the residential areas around us.”
In terms of the residence units, he emphasized that they would operate within the envelope of the existing heights of the buildings. He believes the units could be multi-family homes for either rental or ownership.
Citing the build-out analysis presented at the workshops, he said that there would be slightly less traffic with a mixed-use complex, as opposed to full office use.
Taking into account comments from the committee, he believed Plan C was the favorite configuration.
“The committee wants some retail.”
However, the plans have been met with some hesitation.
Alissa Taff, president of the Civic Association of Sweet Hollow and member of the MEC plan advisory committee, said she believes the plan could lead to Melville turning into Queens.
“It seems to me a little bit too quick. If they were to put apartments there, it would be four stories, and the [town] code is two stories,” said Taff.
According to the presentation, the zoning recommendation includes the use of an overlay district, specific to that site, which would override that code. The restriction in place would be that no more than 50 percent of the total build area could be zoned for residential use.
Under current zoning, the Quadrangle is designated as office space in an I-2 district, light industrial use.
James Coschignano is a commissioner of the Melville Fire District and is also on the MEC plan advisory committee. Though he has concerns, Coschignano said he wanted to wait for the plan to be finalized before making a judgment on the matter.
“We still haven’t seen the full product from the consulting agency,” he said. “We do have concerns, that’s why I was put on the committee.”
For now, those concerns are generalized, and include traffic impacts, hydrants and adherence to state fire codes.