Developer Michael Butler, who two years ago turned the long-vacant former Woolworth building into new storefronts and workforce housing, has innovative plans in the works for another derelict building in downtown Riverhead.
Butler is planning to turn the vacant former West Marine building — a few steps away from the Woolworth Revitalization project —into an indoor open food market and eatery with indoor and outdoor seating, plus a production-demonstration area.
He envisions the 9,500-square-foot interior being subdivided into three main spaces. The front portion of the building, along Main Street, would become a 4,640-square-foot open market with space for about 15 food vendors. In the center would be a production-demonstration area. The river-facing portion of the building would be a 2,500-square-foot restaurant with outdoor seating, according to renderings and plans Butler has had drawn by a New York City architectural firm.
“It would all be food-related,” Butler said in an interview this afternoon, adding that his plans, currently dubbed “Riverhead Market,” are still in the beginning stages and very much “a work in progress.”
“The idea is to make it an attraction, a destination,” he said.
The building, located on the corner lot opposite the Riverhead Diner and Grill, has been vacant for about a decade. Butler has signed a contract with the current owner and is in a “due diligence” period, he said. He hopes to be able to begin construction by the end of this year with a goal of opening in 2017.
Supervisor Sean Walter said he was “ecstatic” about the Sag Harbor developer deciding to do another project in downtown Riverhead.
“When someone has a successful development and returns with another project, that’s showing a lot of confidence in the future of downtown Riverhead,” Walter said.
The supervisor said the town will “showcase” the new project, along with another development proposal — the mixed use residential-retail plan of Georgica Green of East Hampton on the corner of East Main Street and McDermott Avenue — in a New York State Main Street grant application Riverhead will be submitting.
Butler said the grant funding is essential to his ability to make the project work, because the age and condition of the building makes a renovation and reuse project cost-prohibitive.
Walter has called a special Town Board meeting for tomorrow at 9:45 a.m. for the purpose of taking up a resolution authorizing the grant application. The regularly scheduled town board work session will immediately follow the special meeting at 10 a.m.
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