The former Suffolk County National Bank administrative headquarters on West Second Street would become the next Riverhead Town Hall if Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter has his way.
The three-story brick and glass building likely has enough space to house town offices that are currently spread across three sites, Walter said. Moving town operations out of the current town hall on Howell Avenue would allow Riverhead Town to relocate its justice court there, making more room for the police department in the building next door.
“It could be an ideal solution” to the town’s space problems, Walter said. Riverhead is doing a “space analysis” to determine what could fit into the Second Street building, he said. If it works out, the town could sell its “town hall west” building on Pulaski Street as well as the building across from town hall on Howell Avenue, where the building and planning offices are located.
One problem, though: money.
“We’re not in a position to purchase it,” Walter said. “A lot rides on what happens with EPCAL.” The town is looking to sell its remaining acreage at the former Grumman site in Calverton to Luminati Aerospace for $40 million. If sold, some portion of the proceeds could go toward buying a new building or renovating existing facilities.
Walter in the past rejected the idea of borrowing money to renovate town facilities for office space, including the long-vacant armory building on Route 58, once pitched for use as a police-court complex by the town’s two justices.
A second problem: the former SCNB building is not for sale – at least not yet.
With 76 back-office layoffs at the Riverhead-based bank following its acquisition by People’s United, the headquarters building has far fewer people working in it. And more administrative office layoffs are expected, former SCNB president and CEO Howard Bluver told RiverheadLOCAL last month. The Connecticut-based People’s United appointed Bluver president of its New York market.
“A final decision about whether to sell the building has not yet been made,” Bluver said in an interview Monday.
“Sean [Walter] came to me and raised the possibility,” Bluver said. “I told him we will certainly not do anything with the building without informing him and giving him a chance.”
If the bank decides to sell the building, there will almost certainly be other suitors.
“It’s a nice building in the middle of Riverhead, so people call us,” Bluver said.
Peconic Bay Medical Center is rumored to be another interested party. PBMC president and CEO Andrew Mitchell would not confirm that. “As the largest and fastest-growing hospital on the East End PBMC always explores opportunities for further expansion,” Mitchell said in a statement.
Bluver reiterated that “no final decision has been made,” but said the bank will “do something with it” — possibly lease out portions of it or move people from other People’s offices into it.
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