The building that once housed McCabe's office products and the Dinosaur Walk Museum will be torn down to make way for a five-story apartment building, the developer said. Photo: Denise Civiletti

The developer who had plans to build a 160-unit apartment building on the site of the old Sears and three adjacent buildings is moving forward instead with a scaled-back plan on the corner of East Main Street and McDermott Avenue.

Georgica Green Ventures has signed a contract to buy the former Dinosaur Walk (McCabe’s) site, consultant Connie Lassandro said Friday.

Current plans are to build a five-story mixed-use building with six to 10 retail shops on the ground floor and four floors of rental apartments above — studios, one- and two-bedroom units. There will be underground parking for about 45 vehicles, she said.

Georgica Green pulled out of the contract it signed with Riverhead Enterprises for the other buildings on the same block after the developer learned state historic preservation officials would not allow the Sears Building to be razed, Lassandro said. 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.

Architect Geoffrey Freeman is working on the site plan, which Lassandro said she expects will be filed with the town planning department within 60 days.

The developer has secured its financing and is ready to move forward as soon as it can get approvals from the town, Lassandro said.

“We’d like to break ground by the end of the year,” she said.

The apartments will provide much-needed workforce housing — offered to residents earning no more than 80 percent of the area median income — as well as market-rate housing, Lassandro said. With the exception of 10 percent of the units, as mandated by the state’s workforce housing act, they will not be low-income rentals, like Peconic Crossing, the 45-unit apartment building planned for the Long Island Science Center’s West Main Street site. The Peconic Crossing plan got final site plan approval from the Riverhead Planning Board March 3. It will provide rent-controlled housing to households at 50- and 60-percent of the area median income.

The existing building on the 27,500-square-foot site was not determined to have historic significance — like the Sears, Roebuck building — when the town prepared its application for the downtown historic district, Lassandro said.

The new building will occupy the 27,500-square-foot lot where a brick building and parking lot are today. Photo: Denise Civiletti
The new building will occupy the 27,500-square-foot lot where a brick building and parking lot are today. Photo: Denise Civiletti

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