Brookhaven IDA backs Triple Five’s Dowling plan

Back to the future: Dowling College's Shirley campus, in busier times -- which may come again, with the help of the Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

A New Jersey-based developer with high-flying plans for a new Long Island aviation hub has earned an assist from the Town of Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency.

The IDA on Tuesday announced its final approval of an economic-incentives package that will help Triple Five Aviation Industries LLC, a subsidiary of East Rutherford-based Triple Five Worldwide Group, redevelop the former Dowling College campus in Shirley into what the development agency called an “aviation education and research center.”

The 105-acre campus, which has been in limbo since Oakdale-based Dowling College filed for bankruptcy in 2016, comes complete with a ready-made aircraft hangar, as well as 70 dormitory rooms and an athletics complex. It is adjacent to town-owned Brookhaven Calabro Airport.

The incentives, which earned preliminary IDA approval in August, will support a $2 million redevelopment of the campus, according to Triple Five Director of Business Development Stuart Bienenstock.

Triple Five landed the campus in a bankruptcy court-approved $14 million deal announced earlier this year.

Bienenstock said in a statement Tuesday the company is aiming to create “an industry-university research and development center for advanced transportation technology.” If all goes according to company plans, the revamped campus will be part of a new aerospace hub that “propel(s) the Long Island ecosystem and the William Floyd (Parkway) corridor to a leadership position in advanced technology, similar to Silicon Valley,” according to Bienenstock.

That’s a reference to Triple Five’s ongoing efforts to purchase the lion’s share of Riverhead Town-owned land at Calverton Enterprise Park, in partnership with solar-powered aviation pioneer Luminati Aerospace.

The startup aviation company has already hung a shingle at EPCAL, on the grounds of a former Grumman Aerospace Corp. facility, and has been trying for years to acquire an additional 1,600 acres of town-owned land at the site for $40 million.

That long-anticipated sale is still in a holding pattern – Riverhead, Luminati Aerospace and a multitude of Luminati partners have been locked in a perpetual dogfight for years – but regardless of the outcome of that deal, the tax-abatement package approved this week will help revive the former Dowling campus from its tax-revenue slumber, according to Brookhaven IDA Chairman Frederick Braun III.

“We are eager to again have the former Dowling campus contributing to the town’s economy,” Braun said Tuesday. “Triple Five’s ambitious plan to reinvigorate the campus also could benefit the town-owned airport.”