The bell has sounded for another round in the ongoing fight between Taubman Centers and its opponents — including Simon Property Group — over the Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based developer's proposed Mall at Oyster Bay in Syosset, Long Island.
Taubman has been pushing the 750,000-square-foot project for 13 years, spending $122 million in the process, only to be countered at every turn by local officials and the Cerro Wire Coalition, which includes Simon along with Roseland, the Lennar Corp., Marriott Hotels and New York City-based architectural firm, SMWM. (The Coalition instead has pushed for a residential-heavy mixed-use development on the site of the former Cerro Wire and Cable Co. factory, rather than a project dominated by retail.)
In the most recent development in the fight, in June New York State Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Spinner told the Town of Oyster Bay it had 90 days to take “proper action” on the proposal to build an upscalemall — a decision that Taubman hailed.
“We are pleased that the court affirmed what we have been saying all along, that the town has no basis to deny the application for a special use permit,” said Steve Kieras, senior vice president of development for Taubman in a statement.
So far, Oyster Bay has not determined whether to appeal or comply with the judge's ruling, says Phyllis Barry, a spokesperson for the town, who reiterated the town's disapproval of the project. “The town board did not feel it was the proper site for a mall,” she says.
In his decision, the judge didn't approve the mall, but ruled the town couldn't ignore Taubman's application. The town rejected Taubman's application in 2001 and the developer took the case to the State Supreme Court citing the town's actions as arbitrary and capricious. In 2002, a State Supreme Court Judge ordered that the town board reconsider Taubman's proposal. In each of the past five years, courts have instructed the town board to revisit the proposal. It has declined and appealed each time.
Taubman's attorneys took Oyster Bay back to court because, they say, town officials refused to entertain the idea of the mall. The Town of Oyster Bay, like many municipalities throughout the Northeast, has been a challenging market to crack, says Clifford Sondock, president of the Land Use Institute. “This battle is a symbol of what goes on every day on Long lsland, in New York and is growing all over the country,” Sondock says.