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SYOSSET, NY-Taubman Centers Inc., a Bloomfield Hills, MI-based developer, welcomed a recent ruling by the New York State Supreme Court that the Town of Oyster Bay must issue Taubman its long-delayed special use permit for the Mall at Oyster Bay. The luxury shopping center, expected to cost up to $500 million, has faced many court-related delays for the past seven years.

Opponents of the proposed upscale mall have said that the development will negatively impact the traffic, safety, environment, quality of life and home values in the area, according to the website of one of the opposition groups, the Cerro Wire Coalition. The coalition is composed of 27 groups, including a variety of local mom-and-pop retail businesses and several homeowners associations. Cerro Wire Coalition did not respond to GlobeSt.com queries by deadline.

The proposed 860,000-sf mall—-reduced now to 750,000 sf—-which will be built on the site of the former Cerro Wire Works, will be anchored by Neiman Marcus, Barney’s New York and Nordstrom, which signed on Oct. 20, 2005 to replace the earlier revealed anchor Lord & Taylor store. According to a Taubman release, it will be the first new major retail property in Long Island in more than 30 years.

The parcel is bounded by: Robbins Lane on its west side; the right-of-way containing the tracks of the Long Island Railroad on its north side; Miller Place on its south side; and the Syosset Landfill and Department of Public Works maintenance facility on its east side. The area immediately surrounding the parcel consists of industrial and commercial uses. According to the Court decision document, “the parcel in question is located in a Light Industry Zoning District of the Town of Oyster Bay, and the Town Code expressly allows development of a retail shopping mall in said zoning district, pursuant to a special use permit.” Respondents have argued that the Court cannot order it to issue the petitioners a special use permit and site plane approval, because “it cannot order a municipality to undertake a discretionary act,” however the court found no dispute.

A Taubman source tells GlobeSt.com that the court has ordered the Town to immediately issue Taubman a special use permit for a 750,000-sf mall. The source notes that seven years ago, the firm offered to reduce the size from 860,000 sf to 750,000 sf as part of negotiations with the town, and they are “prepared to go forward” with the 750,000-sf size. The size change will not change the estimated construction cost, the source says. “We are hopeful to move forward as soon as possible. We are prepared to commence construction this fall and open in 2010 pending the Town’s compliance.”

The source tells GlobeSt.com that the Town has 30 days to decide whether to appeal the decision, which it will do if the parties cannot reach a settlement in the interim. “The Town has 30 days to file notice for an appeal with six months to perfect [it],” the source says. “If the Town files an appeal, Taubman would of course try to get the appeal expedited.” The source adds that if this occurs, it could delay construction and the opening date by six months.

This new decision follows the Court’s decision on June 11, 2007 which set a 90-day final deadline for the Town to either identify evidence it alleged could justify a demand for a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, or else issue the special use permit in compliance with the Court’s initial July 8, 2002 Order. At the time, Kieras said that “this matter has gone on long enough and in order to avert future appeals and prolongment of the legal process at taxpayer expense, Taubman would be willing to resume discussions with the town regarding the possibility of settlement of this issue.”

Steve Kieras, Taubman’s senior vice president of development, says in a prepared release that “this is our 10th straight court victory, and we hope this decision will break through the remaining political roadblocks and finally allow us to build….” According to a recent statement, the proposal will create an economic transformation of the former wire manufacturing complex. Construction of the mall is expected to generate 3,000 to 3,500 jobs in the building trades while pumping nearly a half billion dollars into the county’s economy.

After construction, the mall is expected to generate annual salaries of nearly $51 million and nearly $8.6 million in annual real estate tax revenues for the town and county, which includes nearly $4.7 million for the Syosset School District. This equates to almost $700 per student, without adding a single student or any additional costs to the district, according to a statement. In addition, sales taxes are expected to be approximately $30 million annually. “The county’s economy is expected to realize a boost of $308 million as a result of the economic activity and nearly 2,000 permanent jobs generated by commerce at the site.”

The Court ordered that all parties appear again before the Court at intervals of approximately 90 days, beginning on Sept. 17, 2008, to establish compliance with the orders of the Court. As of Q108, the company has spent $146 million thus far on the project, which is expected to yield 7%. As of the most recent update, the small shop space is 50% leased and 65% committed.

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