The Cerro Wire Coalition (CWC) recently questioned statements made by Taubman Company executives concerning the amount of money Taubman claims it has invested in its efforts to build a mega-mall on the former Cerro Wire property in Syosset.
According to the CWC, during a July 28 conference call with analysts and investors, Taubman reported that $118.7 million has been invested into its proposed mall project through the end of June 2006, a number that CWC Chairman Todd Fabricant claims is highly suspect. The information is also available on Taubman's website.
"Back in December, Taubman reported that $93 million had been spent on the Cerro Wire project up to that point", Fabricant said. "Now they are saying that another $25 million has been poured in over the past six months. That's over $4 million per month since December. How is that possible when there has been little or no activity?" he asked. "This is clearly another example that strains Taubman's credibility and makes you wonder about the accuracy of any of the financial data that has been reported concerning this project."
Fabricant also said that although things have been relatively quiet in the Taubman camp, the community has stepped up its efforts against the mall.
Earlier this year, the Cerro Wire Coalition formed an Alternate Development Sub-Committtee made up of community leaders who began holding meetings with prominent national real estate developers to discuss other alternate development plans for the Robbins Lane site. Recently, the group selected one developer to work with the committee to begin working on plans for a mixed-use concept that could include senior citizen condos, first-class office space and a boutique-style hotel. From there, the committee will carefully review the proposal and present it to the rest of the community before submitting it to the Town of Oyster Bay for its reaction. The land is still owned by the Taubman Company.
In addition, following news that Canon USA was negotiating to purchase land to relocate its corporate headquarters from Lake Success to Melville, the coalition reached out to Nassau County, Canon and the Town of Oyster Bay to express the community's interest in possibly bringing Canon to the former Cerro Wire property. Nassau County has already indicated it will do everything possible to keep Canon from crossing the border in Suffolk.
"It would be wonderful if this plan could happen," said Nassau County Legislator Judy Jacobs. "I would love to see a success story here, but I am not positive that we are going to see one. I will do everything I can to interest that."
According to Jacobs, Reckson, a real estate company based in Uniondale, has expressed an interest in building the Canon site. "All of that could happen, but that is way off. The first answer we have to get is if Taubman will back off of this," said Jacobs. The 39-acre parcel of land is owned by Taubman and not currently for sale.
Jacobs said that Canon coming to Syosset would be a, "great thing. That would be a one-use occupancy similar to Geico, which enables us to have traffic in a controlled way, in in the morning and out in the afternoon and people can live in peace with them. I think it would be a phenomenal use. It will show that this community is not interested in stopping progress, but allowing progress that is doable and livable and yet helps the economy of Long Island. There is a lot involved here but it is certainly worth it to try," said Jacob.
"The prospect of bringing Canon or our other alternate development concept here is real and is something the community is eagerly interested in pursuing," according to Fabricant. "From day one Taubman has not been straightforward in dealing with the community. Their prior actions give us every reason to believe their investment claims are nothing more than an attempt to intimidate potential investors that are interested in a possible alternate development for the site. Unfortunately for Taubman, it doesn't appear to be working," Fabricant said.
"For almost 10 years, we've wanted to explore other options that would put this unproductive land back to productive use. It's exciting and encouraging to know that there is genuine interest from others in the real estate industry to utilize this site for something other than a mall," said Warren Church, chairman of the Alternate Development Sub-Committee. "We look forward to continuing to investigate these opportunities."
A spokesman for the mall project declined to comment on the allegations offered in the latest press release issued by opponents.
Formed in 2000, the Cerro Wire Coalition is comprised of 27 civic, business, educational and community groups representing more than 40,000 Town of Oyster Bay homeowners and 6,000 small business owners countywide that are vigorously opposed to the Taubman Company's interest in building a mall on the 39-acre parcel in Syosset. For more information go to www.nomallhere.com. For more information on Taubman's plan to build the mall, visit www.mallatoysterbay.com.