Obici Place will be a quality development

Published 7:20 pm Saturday, August 12, 2017

By Mike Duman

I would like to offer a rebuttal to the editorial published on August 10th titled “Wait and hope.”

In my opinion, the development of Obici Place on Main Street has been anything but a “bust,” as suggested by the editorial staff.

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It has been about two years since this project was approved. In that time, the roads, infrastructure and landscaping have been completed, and the apartments have been constructed.

Quality apartments have been built, as planned, and they provide an upscale product with amenities that were not available in this market. Several hundred thousand dollars will be generated annually in real estate tax and utility income. Plus, over a million dollars was collected in connection fees for water availability.

As stated in the editorial, there does not seem to be a traffic problem. In addition, the stoplight that was once located at the entrance to Obici Hospital is now aligned with Northgate Avenue, allowing those residents safe access across Main Street.

I take exception to the somewhat disingenuous description of the commercial development as a “strip mall.” The development planned will in no way resemble a strip mall.

There is ample green space, landscaping and thoughtful placement of screening, traffic patterns, parking and building placement. In addition, consideration has been given to pedestrian connectivity and convenience.

The commitment to adhere to the standard of acquiring premium retail enterprises and businesses has not wavered. The list of prohibited businesses was the result of surveys completed by citizens at the time.

The developer must adhere to a list that precludes pawn shops, cellular phone sales or repair, nail salons, mattress sales, payday loan operations, tattoo parlors, firearm sales, tobacco or alternative nicotine vapor products, to name a few.

As the City Council liaison to the Economic Development Authority, I have witnessed the concern and due diligence of the EDA to ensure that a superior product is delivered to our citizens as promised. I applaud them and our economic development department for their efforts.

The changes that were granted to the developer had no effect on the quality or design of the product delivered — only a change concerning maintenance and responsibility of common areas.

With the highly restrictive list of businesses the developer has to glean from, it has been a slower process to fill commercial space. In retrospect, that time is rather negligible when compared to the more than 10 years this property was a vacant, undeveloped eyesore that generated no revenue and provided no benefit.

Yes, it is a waiting game, but I am confident the end result will be a positive one. I contend that the quality of this development will be remembered long after the concern over how long it took to come to fruition.

Mike Duman is a member of Suffolk City Council, representing the Chuckatuck Borough. Email him at