Last week – and for the second time in two years – developer Georgia Malone stood in front of a downtown Riverhead building and snipped a red ribbon to celebrate the grand opening of a beautiful and innovative renovation.
The three-story building at 20 West Main Street that once housed Allied Optical has been gutted, upgraded and reconfigured into a suite of about 15 offices in various sizes. The 1,800 sq. ft. ground floor has been left unfinished to allow maximum customization for a future tenant. All offices come with high speed Internet and WiFi, high efficiency air-conditioning and a host of other amenities.
In 2015 Malone opened the doors on the property next door at 30 West Main Street, renting offices and workstations with flexible lease terms. That building’s occupancy is almost at its maximum, says Malone.
The structure at 20 West Main dates back to 1913. It is the site of the old circa 1727 Suffolk County Court House, which was destroyed by fire.
The newly renovated building was a labor of love for Malone, who designed the interior with the goal of creating an environment that is beautiful, comfortable and safe.
“I create environments that are the opposite of oppressive,” says Malone. “They’re light and airy with high ceilings and beautiful color on the wall. I pick out the furniture, the sinks, even the toilets.”
Malone is nothing if not a perfectionist when it comes to assuring that each space in the building will have interesting light and a relaxing feel. She confesses to buying upwards of 25 cans of paint and combining them to create just the right color for each room.
“Paint looks different depending on where you put it. You have to see what the paint looks like in different light.”
Hallways, lobbies and conference rooms are filled with artwork, plants and comfortable places to sit. Particularly striking are the African photos taken by National Widflife photographer Billy Dobson for the African Wildlife Foundation, an organization Malone works with.
“The photographs are laser printed onto shiny aluminum,” says Malone. “They’re quite stunning.”
High on Malone’s list of requirements for the building is security. “We have cameras everywhere and a really good security system,” she says. “People need to feel safe.”
In the works is a back yard garden area which will have an assortment of plants and trees and a picnic space. “It’s going to be a magnificent back yard,” she says. “The tenants from 20 West and 30 West will have a beautiful and unique place to hang out.”
When asked if she has another project in mind to follow this one, she is evasive.
“This is the first time in three years that I haven’t been working six days in a row and it’s kind of nice. But I definitely have another project in mind; I know exactly what I want to do. First I have to rent my building and then I’ll move on. But I can tell you it will be another project in Riverhead.”
Malone has a vision for the future of downtown Riverhead.
“I’d like to see more foot traffic. I’d like to have a really good market, a small market where you can buy organic specialty foods but also milk and meat and vegetables. This way people wouldn’t have to leave the area to get what they need. I’d also love to have a bookstore and I want to see something more done with the waterfront. I love the waterfront; the area behind Main Street is so lovely.”
RiverheadLOCAL photos by Katharine Schroeder