Deadline extended for Centennial Hall ideas

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The Village of Floral Park is giving developers two more months to submit proposals for its historic Centennial Hall building.

The village extended the deadline for submissions to Jan. 12 after receiving only one proposal by the original Nov. 10 deadline, Mayor Thomas Tweedy said. A second proposal was submitted last week, and two other firms have expressed interest, he said.

Both plans include retail and office space, and one indicates it would set aside some of the building’s 8,500 square feet for use by community groups, said Gerry Bambrick, the village administrator.

Bambrick and Tweedy declined to say which firms have submitted bids or expressed interest in the 91-year-old building to maintain the fairness of the bid process. But Tweedy said all of them have toured the building and are familiar with the village’s efforts.

“They’ve been part of the process from the beginning,” Tweedy said.

The village issued a request for proposals in October seeking plans from private companies to develop the historic but deteriorating former Masonic temple at the intersection of Tulip and Carnation avenues.

Village officials plan to present the proposals it receives at a public meeting sometime after the Jan. 12 deadline, Tweedy and Bambrick said.

The village purchased the building in 2005 with a $1.5 million bond. It is seeking commercial and residential proposals that preferably set some space aside for use by community groups, according to the request for proposals prepared by CBRE, a real estate firm the village has retained to help determine Centennial Hall’s future.

Village officlals also continue to evaluate whether it would be feasible for the village to hold onto the property, Bambrick said.

“The public use option is still very much on the table,” Bambrick said.

It is up to the village Board of Trustees to choose a proposal, or reject all of them and move forward with its own plan, or reissue the request for proposals, Bambrick said.

The village may sell or lease the property, or sell it and lease some portion of it from the buyer for public use, Bambrick has said. CBRE will make a 5.5 percent commission on whatever deal is closed.

Some Floral Park residents questioned the village’s reluctance to release more information about the firms and the plans they have submitted.

“To say who bid and what they’re looking to do seems like it should make sense,” considering how passionate many residents are about the future of the “iconic” building, said Matthew Sexton, an officer in the South Side Civic Association and frequent critic of Tweedy.

Tweedy said releasing information about the bids would put firms that submitted at a competitive disadvantage and possibly discourage or prevent them from changing or withdrawing their proposals.

“This isn’t a question of trying to be clandestine. This is a question of being fair,” Tweedy said.

By Noah Manskar

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