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Marathon effort finally over for Touro law school broker.

For Marie Zere, the February 24 groundbreaking for a new home for Touro Law Center in Central Islip, was a blessed relief.

Zere, Long Island's leading woman commercial real estate broker, had spent more than 12 years fraught with pitfalls arranging the deal.

Zere, president of Ronkonkoma, N.Y.-based Zere Real Estate Services Inc., completed the deal last year, but the groundbreaking awaited permits from the town of Islip, which were issued only weeks ago.

The proposed 180,000 s/f, $33 million law campus is to be constructed on 14.58 acres of vacant land adjacent to the Alfonse M. D'Amato United States Courthouse and Suffolk County's Cohalan Court Complex. The land formerly was part of Central Islip State Psychiatric Center. Construction is expected to take 18 months.

The new campus, designed by the Ronkonkoma architectural firm, the Baldassano Architectural Group, is being built by Ronkonkoma-based Parr Development Corp.

"The new Touro Law Center will be a national educational treasure," Zere said. "I am proud to say that I was instrumental in making this monumental deal of a lifetime happen. It will benefit all Long Islanders for generations to come."

The law school, the first of its kind nationally, because of its proximity to federal and state courts, will stress hands-on legal education, expanding learning from the classroom and textbooks into real courtrooms.

It will also be a cornerstone in an effort to revitalize Central Islip.

Touro currently is housed in 120,000 square feet in a former junior high school in Huntington, NY. The school, part of Manhattan-based Touro College, was established in 1980.

Zere's involvement in the project began after a December 18, 1992, speaking engagement, when she was asked by college officials to help them find a site for a campus.

She recommended a site in Central Islip owned by the New York Institute of Technology, which years earlier had acquired property for its own campus on what had been part of the Central Islip Psychiatric Center

There were difficult negotiations over price with NYIT and problems in getting state and federal approvals to use a former hospital building for private use.

After teaming with Ron Parr, they decided that building from the ground up would be a better alternative and found the 15.48-acre parcel that was owned by the New York State Urban Development Corp..

After much negotiation and appraisal, the state agree to sell the land to Touro for $10,000 an acre, but with a requirement it only be used for educational purposes. The sale, however, required legislation to go through and it was only after a years-long lobby effort by Parr and Governor George Pataki, did a measure pass.

Zere credits Parr for the success of the effort. "Our tenacity, creativity and fortitude as a team kept us going."
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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 9, 2005
Words:469
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