Home News Local News New workforce housing plan on East Main Street expands to the riverfront

New workforce housing plan on East Main Street expands to the riverfront

Georgica Green Ventures has an agreement to buy the property south of the former Dinosaur Walk Museum along McDermott Avenue, expanding its development to include 130 rental apartments and a riverfront restaurant. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Plans for a new mixed-use development on the corner of East Main Street and McDermott Avenue have grown and now stretch south to the riverfront.

Georgica Green Ventures, which in March signed a contract to buy the former Dinosaur Walk/McCabe’s building on the corner, now has an agreement to buy the parcel to the south, the developer’s consultant, Connie Lassandro, said today. The developer will now seek to build 130 rental units above first-floor retail shops along Main Street and a portion of McDermott Avenue, Lassandro said, with a restaurant on the riverfront.

The developer has been working on revised plans and will unveil renderings at an upcoming architectural review board meeting later this month, Lassandro said.

Georgica Green originally contracted with Riverhead Enterprises to purchase the site of the old Sears building and three adjacent parcels, and planned to build 160 units there, but that deal fell through after the developer learned state historic preservation officials would not allow the facade of Sears building to be razed, Lassandro said in March. That forced a reduction by 40 to 45 units in the number of apartments that could be built and allowed the developer to cancel the contract when it could not renegotiate the purchase price, she said at the time.

When Lassandro announced a new contract to buy the corner building on McDermott, adjacent to the Riverhead Enterprises parcels it had first planned to buy, she said the development would be reduced from the 160 units it originally hoped to build to about 90 units at the new location. The acquisition of the southern parcel allows Georgica Green to bump up the number of units and acquire desirable waterfront property.

The rental apartments will be a mix of workforce housing — offered to residents earning no more than 80 percent of the area median income — and market-rate housing, Lassandro said. The developer has already obtained commitments for workforce housing funding from the state and county, she said.

“Once we get site plan approval we’ll be able to hit the ground running,” Lassandro said.

“I’m very happy. I think that’s fantastic. It rounds off the project very nicely,” Supervisor Sean Walter said today.

Riverhead Enterprises has a new buyer for the properties Georgica Green was going to purchase and new workforce housing plans were in the works for that site, Walter said. Walter said he has met with the new purchaser, Rob Muchnick, who he said has already signed a contract with Riverhead Enterprises.

After Georgica Green pulled out of its contract with Riverhead Enterprises, the property owner has since demolished the old Sears building and the three smaller buildings next to it.

Walter said the two adjacent properties should be developed in a way that’s compatible with each another, with adjoining setbacks that will allow at least 30 feet of space between the two structures. Lassandro said that’s already how Georgica’s plans are being drawn.

The town board has pursued residential uses on Main Street in the hope that people living downtown will spur commerce and the business district’s revitalization. A code change was adopted during the Cardinale administration to allow up to 500 apartments downtown. With Georgica Green’s 130 units, the total number of new apartment will reach about half that amount. In addition to the 52-unit Summerwind Square apartments and the 19-unit Woolworth Revitalization project, a 45-unit apartment building is planned for the site of the L.I. Science Center on West Main Street. Conifer Realty, the developers of Peconic Crossing, are closing this month on the purchase the site from the Long Island Science Center, Conifer principal Alan Handelman said yesterday. The L.I. Science Center has 240 days from closing to vacate the site.

“We’ll start demolition as soon as they’re out of there,” Handelman said.

In addition, Woolworth developer Michael Butler is buying the former West Marine site, where he plans to build apartments above a retail market and restaurant on the ground floor.

“Nobody can say downtown revitalization is coming in fits and starts anymore,” Walter said. “We’re definitely on our way.”

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter and editor, an attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including a “writer of the year” award from the N.Y. Press Association in 2015. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website. Email Denise.