Brownfield Rebirth

Construction of retail development begins soon at tainted West Islip site.

A Long Island retail developer is preparing to start construction on a former manufacturing property that’s been plagued by pollution problems.
Designated as an environmental Superfund site more than 20 years ago, the West Islip property once occupied by the Dzus Fastener Company has been oozing nasty heavy metals and carcinogens such as cadmium, lead, chromium and cyanide into the soil under the 4.1-acre site at 425 Union Boulevard since the factory was built in 1938.

Roger Delisle, an accomplished retail developer and owner/broker of Smithtown-based Island Associates, is hoping to break ground in June for the $12 million project that will bring a 6,800-square-foot QuickChek convenience store and an adjoining 8,500-square-foot strip center on the brownfield site that fronts Union Boulevard and backs the Long Island Rail Road tracks.
The latest remediation efforts at the property are slated to be completed this month. The developer and his environmental engineer, Michael Bluight of Bohemia-based Impact Environmental, the site project manager, are awaiting a closure report from the state Department of Environmental Conservation that will certify the site is clean.
This won’t be the first time that the contaminated site got a clean bill of health by the DEC. After excavating thousands of tons of tainted soil from the Dzus property and thousands more tons of sediment from nearby Lake Capri in the 1990s, the DEC deemed the site stabilized and switched over to monitoring at the property.
Ironically, it took Delisle and his engineer to perform their own testing beginning in August 2015 to discover that the site soil still contained heavy metal contamination well above DEC restricted commercial standards.
“We submitted a report to the DEC that nearly a dozen areas on the property needed further remediation,” Bluight told LIBN. In addition, consultants from Melville-based H2M who were working for the former property owner also identified more areas that required cleanup.
While Dzus and its parent DFCI Solutions were on the hook for the more than $1 million cost of the prior remediation, Delisle has already spent more than $200,000 on testing. And though the property’s former owners ceased manufacturing there last summer, they may be responsible for as much as $500,000 more in potential cleanup costs.
Bluight said he will soon file a construction management plan with the DEC, with input from the state Department of Health and the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, “to ensure the safety of the community as work is ongoing.”
Delisle has all approvals for the redevelopment project and is going before the Town of Islip Zoning Board of Appeals at the end of the month for a sign variance and the height of the canopy over QuickChek’s gas pumps. If all goes well, he expects the convenience store and retail strip should be completed next spring.
Besides brokering more than 40 real estate deals for CVS Drugstores and new stores for Lowe’s Home Improvement in Commack and Riverhead, Delisle, a 24-year commercial real estate veteran, has also helped secure development sites for QuickChek in Commack, Copiague and Brentwood.
Delisle, whose West Islip development plans have gotten support from local civic groups, said the project will be privately funded without any public money or tax breaks. He’s also pleased that the due diligence conducted after he contracted to buy the property led to further remediation that goes towards protecting the local community.
“This is a classic example of a proper redevelopment of a brownfield site,” Delisle said. “It was a big burden but we knew what we were getting into. The impetus was we knew we had QuickChek as a tenant to help pay the freight to do some of the environmental analysis and make a value there. If it wasn’t for securing QuickChek, we wouldn’t have continued and the neighborhood would never know how bad it really was.”