The Water Street Shops property in Sag Harbor Village hit the market this week, and one of the interested buyers is the Southampton Town Community Preservation Fund.
The property, with a 15,000-square-foot commercial building and 30 parking spaces, is between West Water Street and the village’s new waterfront John Steinbeck Park. The location lends itself to expanding the footprint of the park or another use to complement the park, though what exactly is planned for the property if the CPF buys it, in whole or in part, is yet to be determined.
Sag Harbor Village Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy confirmed Wednesday, July 8, that village and town officials have been discussing the prospect of the Community Preservation Fund being used to buy the property, alternatively known as 22 Long Island Avenue and 22 West Water Street.
“There are a number of ideas, whether it’s to add some to the park, to add some more parking, to add a new, different commercial building,” Ms. Mulcahy said. “There are lots of different ideas floating around.”
The building has eight retail units and four office suites. Among the current occupants are Water Street Wine & Spirits, take-out Chinese restaurant Sing City and 7-Eleven. The 0.67-acre property is adjacent to developer Jay Bialsky’s rising 2 West Water Street condos.
“At this point, within our village, any time a big piece of property comes up, we’re going to look at it to see if it makes sense for something to become part of the village, or at least partially part of the village, particularly given the CPF funds at the moment,” the mayor said. “There are a lot of CPF funds. Especially something that close to the waterfront, we want to be able to protect. And if we can possibly afford to buy it and … add to the park, we want to try to do that.”
Ms. Mulcahy also noted that there is a road between the park and the commercial property, so the village has had discussions with the property owners over the years concerning the road. The short unnamed road connects the property’s parking lot to Ferry Road.
Depending on the outcome of the Community Preservation Fund’s appraisal of the property, there could be a joint deal to purchase it between the town and the village or between the town and a private investor, Ms. Mulcahy said.
“If the CPF wants to purchase the whole thing and we can have it as part of the park, that would be magnificent,” she said. “I don’t think that’s likely to happen, but I don’t know. … I can tell you there is no money in Sag Harbor Village’s budget to put money into it.”
It’s going to be the town’s call whether a private investor is invited to purchase half of the property, she noted.
“We would be delighted with any part of it that the CPF would like to purchase,” she added. “We would be delighted to be the stewards of it.”
Mr. Bialsky, who sold the land that would become Steinbeck Park to the Community Preservation Fund in 2019, said Tuesday, July 14, that he would like to see the park expanded. “It’s a rare opportunity that a waterfront park in today’s world was actually executed,” he said. “… To expand upon it — the opportunity won’t come about again.”
He also said he is there to help if approached but he does not have a vested interest at this time.
Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said Thursday, July 9, that the Town Board has not discussed the property yet, but would love to add to the park, whether with additional parking or more parkland on the waterfront.
“But that’s also not an inexpensive piece of property,” he added. “And there are uses there — 7-Eleven is heavily used by the community. I’d like to see where they are going to end up as well, but I’m not trying to displace anybody.”
The supervisor said the property could be redeveloped with another commercial use, such as a restaurant overlooking the water, or it could become a paid parking lot. “Downtown really suffers from a lack of parking,” he noted.
What the village wants matters a lot to him, he emphasized. He said it could be that the village prefers to keep the commercial building on the tax rolls, or to create second-story residential units.
No appraisal has been initiated, but the property is before the Community Preservation Advisory Board, Mr. Schneiderman said.
“It would be up to the Town Board and the Village Trustees to agree on a plan for the property, consistent with the CPF regulations,” Community Preservation Fund manager Lisa Kombrink wrote in an email.
The town may not pay more than the appraised value to purchase a property, and sellers are under no obligation to sell to the town if they have better offers. The property is listed for $13.9 million with Douglas Elliman’s Enzo Morabito Team.