Adam Potter, the chairman of Friends of Bay Street, confirmed on Thursday, March 25, that he was in contract personally for the purchase of the building at 11 Bridge Street in Sag Harbor, which is commonly known as the Dodds & Eder building.
Mr. Potter said his plan is to bring in a convenience store to the site to replace the 7-Eleven store, which is being displaced as part of the effort to redevelop the Water Street Shops building at 22 Long Island Avenue as a new home for the theater. He said the plan also would provide space for some of the other tenants of the Water Street Shops building, who have been given notice they are on month-to-month leases, pending approval of the plans for the theater, as well as a dry cleaner, who would not process clothing on site.
Mr. Potter stressed that the “Sag Convenience Store” would be locally owned and only open 18 hours a day, unlike 7-Eleven, which is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
“I think people want a convenience store,” he said. “Think of something like Brent’s in Amagansett.” He added that closing the business from midnight to 6 a.m. would reduce the number of complaints neighbors might have because of noise and light.
But he said the new zoning code revision of a swath of waterfront properties currently being contemplated by Sag Harbor Village would derail those plans. The issue, he said, was that a draft of the proposed zoning code changes released in January would have allowed a convenience store to be built in those portions of the Office District that lie in the waterfront zone. A store with limited hours would be a permitted use, and a store that would be open 24 hours a day would be allowed, provided a special exception permit was obtained from the village Planning Board.
But in a new draft of the code changes unveiled March 24 at a Village Board meeting, convenience stores were no longer permitted in the Office District.
“We have gone leaps and bounds to protect and help the current tenants,” he said. “We are trying everything we can to keep a convenience store, but every time we suggest something, the mayor says ‘no.’”
Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy said it was not a matter of trying to stymie Mr. Potter, but of trying to respond to the initial public comments being made about the proposed zoning changes.
“We got a lot of complaints about it,” she said of allowing convenience stores in the Office District. “The same as everyone was in a tizzy 25 years ago when 7-Eleven came in, they are in a tizzy now.”
She said the Village Board is planning to have a hearing on the new code changes on April 13. “Mr. Potter can make his case when we start taking public comment” on the finished proposal, she said. “I have no problem putting it back in if the village wants it back in, but I need to hear that from the village.”
Mr. Potter pointed out that the new store would only be about 400 feet from the current 7-Eleven and said he only knew of two complaints made about allowing convenience stores in the Office District.
“It might be close, but there’s a world of difference in that distance,” the mayor responded, pointing out that the Harbor Close condominiums are right across the street from the Dodds & Eder building while the existing 7-Eleven is largely surrounded by other businesses.
Ms. Mulcahy added that she supports a convenience store for the village, but said there are other locations besides the Dodds & Eder property that could serve that purpose.
Mr. Potter, in a post on Facebook, urged supporters of a convenience store at the site to contact the mayor and let her know their feelings.
Rumors about 11 Bridge Street as a possible future home for 7-Eleven have been swirling in the village for months, and past and current tenants of the building have said Mr. Potter had introduced himself as representing the new owners. He said this week that he had been unable to disclose his interest in the property because of a confidentiality agreement.
Friends of Bay Street was formed to buy and construct a new permanent home for the theater, which has been leasing space at the Malloy property on Bay Street and Long Wharf. The purchase of the Water Street Shops property was unveiled last October, but concerns have been raised by village officials that either Friends of Bay Street or other developers were eyeing nearby properties as part of a grander development effort.
Some of those concerns were realized when Mr. Potter revealed that Friends of Bay Street had been trying to buy the former gas ball property owned by National Grid and which is currently used as a village parking lot. The Village Board has since indicated its own interest in obtaining a long-term lease for the parking lot to keep it in public hands.