by Lon Cohen |

A new mixed-use project proposed for 52 acres of wooded land in Bellport is starting to take shape.

The Crest Group of Port Jefferson Station is developing the project.

Crest’s CEO told GreaterPatchogue the entire site had already been approved for industrial subdivision, much like other parcels nearby.

But an updated plan now calls for a blend of multifamily and retail space.

“We didn’t want to intensify the industrial use with more trucks on the road, so we went back to the drawing board,” said Enrico Scarda, CEO of The Crest Group.

Crest has other projects either proposed or under construction on Long Island right now, including a 90-unit 55 and older community in East Setauket and a multi-use property under construction that will house a Starbucks and a medical building in Port Jefferson Station on Nesconset Highway.

Previous plans for the Bellport site included the construction of a BJ’s Wholesale Club, but that deal never materialized and the store eventually opened on the site of the former south side Bellport Outlet Center.

Scarda said feedback from the community, local demand for housing, and the desire to preserve space on the property influenced the final designs, which call for a 150-unit gated apartment complex and 120-unit assisted living community.

There would also be a self-storage facility and a separate retail component consisting of a restaurant, a small market, and two other retail buildings in what Crest is calling a town center.

Crest estimates there will be about 180,000 square feet of retail space in total.

LA Fitness and Aldi grocery store are two brands the developer thinks would make a good fit. Plans call for open parking lots for the retail areas.

Scarda says a national self-storage chain is interested in the site. A market study showed demand from surrounding neighborhoods and within the planned community.

The parcel, located south of Woodside Avenue and east of Station Road, will be developed with the community in mind, according to the developers, and that would include an eight-acre buffer to separate the development from residents adjacent to the property.

Scarda says his company has met with neighbors and civic associations.

Crest representatives have also reached out to the local fire departments and ambulance district about the plans, with offers to help direct additional tax dollars to their budgets.

Other proposals include dedicating an acre of open space for emergency services use.

“We’ve been doing our community outreach and made changes to the plan based on input from meetings and scoping sessions,” Scarda said.

A latest round of changes included reduction of the overall development and more open space. Along with the dedicated buffer on site, the deal includes credits to preserve about 20 acres in the pine barrens district.

The rentals will include mostly 1-2 bedroom apartments with some studios and an average rent anywhere from $1,400 to $1,800 per month.

This does not include any additional association fees that come along with living in the gated community.

Crest has been in close talks with the neighboring Amneal Pharmaceuticals which is planning to expand its facilities in nearby Yaphank about a mile and a half north of the development site.

The expansion is expected to create a demand for housing that Crest hopes to fill with this project.

Reports say the drug maker will add up to 400 new employees.

There will be a Brookhaven Town hearing on Thursday, Jan. 31, that’s open for public comment on the project. If Crest succeeds in getting the zoning changed and the plans approved they expect construction to take two to three years before it’s completed.