*NEWS*ACCORD REACHED ON CANON’s NEW SITE

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*NEWS*ACCORD REACHED ON CANON’s NEW SITE

 user 2006-12-18 at 2:46:00 pm Views: 48
  • #17186

    Accord reached on Canon site
    Hands have been shaken and the way is clear for Canon USA to build a new, Western Hemisphere headquarters at the “pumpkin farm” in Melville after two developers ironed out their differences in a mediation session in Hauppauge Wednesday evening.”We struck a deal,” said an elated County Executive Steve Levy, who hosted the session at his offices. “It’s a major coup for Long Island.”Just what that deal entails probably won’t be known until closing papers are filed months from now. Levy said he was sworn to secrecy about details of the verbal settlement reached in “gentlemanly” discussions under the guidance of retired judge Milton Mollen.Tilles Investment Co. last month sued Holiday Organization, which had contracted to buy the land from Roger Tilles a year ago for about $70 million for residential development, but then reversed course to flip the property to Canon for a reported $102 million. Tilles said the land was his, not Holiday’s, to sell.Levy said the developers and their advisers and partners were gathered in a large conference room and asked not to leave until everyone met to discuss the status of talks. Then Mollen segregated them and spoke to them one at a time, to get their position and solicit settlement offers. Six or seven hours later, after about three offers and counteroffers, “we nailed it,” Levy said. “We’re just ecstatic that we were able to lock them in a room and have better judgment prevail,” he said.Canon’s new headquarters will be important not only for the 1,080 jobs it is keeping on Long Island after it moves from Lake Success, but for 1,000 more positions the imaging giant plans to bring. Many of those will be in research and development, officials say, the kind that can kick-start all kinds of benefits to communities in the region.”It’s one thing to get an infusion of minimum-wage jobs, but this is the real deal — these are jobs upon which you base careers,” Levy said. “That’s just fantastic for the local economy.”The prospect that the pumpkin farm dispute could torpedo the region’s biggest economic development project in years had sent panic through the ranks of government officials. But the spoiler role was also unappetizing for Tilles, 60, and Holiday chief executive Gerald Monter, 85, men who would rather be known for their local philanthropy these days. Tilles is a member of the state Board of Regents and the governor-elect’s transition team; Monter’s family foundation gave $10 million for the new Monter Cancer Center that opened this year as part of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System in Lake Success.So, if details were few Thursday, the relief was palpable. “Everyone feels it was a successful outcome,” Tilles said Thursday, crediting the county for its management of the meeting.”The county was great,” agreed Howard Stein, an attorney for Monter. “Steve Levy and [Deputy County Executive] Kevin Law were really instrumental in getting this thing resolved.”Canon, which has endured repeated frustration of its past efforts to build a new headquarters, continues to be cautious in its public statements about its plans. There is, after all, plenty of due-diligence work to be completed before an actual closing next year.”Canon is happy that the county executive and town officials have demonstrated leadership and their commitment to the shared vision of a Canon North and South American headquarters located on Long Island,” said Bruce Blakeman, the broker on the deal.