By SELIM ALGAR
An old Estée Lauder facility on Long Island has been chosen by the Shinnecock Indian Nation's gaming authority as a site for a long-planned casino, The Post has learned.
The sprawling 29-acre property in Yaphank, which once housed a distribution center for the cosmetics giant, recently got the nod from the tribe's divided gaming authority.
The site was a late consideration and gained momentum because the building -- the size of five football fields -- could easily house a casino and would eliminate the need for a new structure, sources said.
Located roughly 60 miles from Manhattan off Exit 66 of the Long Island Expressway, the facility was built in 1989 and has more than 230,000 square feet of space. There are already 800 parking spaces available.
"That would just speed things up," said a source close to the process. "Obviously, if you already have a building in place, that's a tremendous advantage."
But opponents argue the site isn't big enough for large-scale expansion.
Until recently, Brookhaven Airport and another Yaphank property were the front-runners. The tribe's full membership still has to approve the choice.
The tribe is also eyeing about 30 surrounding acres as potential space for expansion.
The parcel's current landlord, Rechler Equity, currently rents it to a paper-products company. Officials there didn't return calls for comment.
But it will still be a long time before anyone yanks a slot machine handle at the site. Even if the tribe successfully purchases the property and the surrounding acres, any nonreservation casino has to be placed in a federal trust, an increasingly difficult proposition for American Indian tribes.
Situated on a grim reservation amid the glitz and glamour of the Hamptons, the Shinnecocks have long argued that gaming would resuscitate their fading fortunes.
Shinnecock spokeswoman Beverly Jensen acknowledged the property has been vetted but said no final call has been made.
Report: Residents discuss Shinnecock Nation's casino bid (5/24)
Shinnecock Nation hasn't committed to a casino location (5/19)
Announcement expected for Shinnecock Nation casino plan (5/11)
Shinnecock Nation said to be close to reaching casino deal (4/28)