Sag Harbor Developer Says He would Offer Space For 7-Eleven If He Could Only Get A Building Permit

The Schiavoni property on Long Island Avenue remains vacant. STEPHEN J. KOTZ

Could Sag Harbor’s 7-Eleven find a new home on the Schiavoni property, a commercially zoned strip next to the Sag Harbor Post Office?

“The deal is ready to go,” according to owner David Schiavoni, who said he has been in talks with Southland Corporation, 7-Eleven’s parent company, about a lease for the convenience store, which was recently informed it must vacate the space it occupies across the street in the Water Street Shops complex by the end of April. The Water Street Shops building is slated to become the site of a new Bay Street Theater, if those plans, which have not been formally submitted, are approved by the village boards.

But Mr. Schiavoni said the deal has been delayed because the village Building Department threw a monkey wrench into the works by first informing him on April 12 that he would receive a building permit only to reverse itself two days later after neighboring property owners complained that his proposed building would be too tall.

However, James Esposito, the village’s new senior building inspector, said the matter was not that simple and that the initial site plan Mr. Schiavoni had submitted showed a building that was the same footprint as the original structure on the site, but that elevations, submitted later, showed a building that was much taller.

“It was beautiful,” Mr. Esposito said on Friday, “but I’ve got to make a decision on whether it conforms.”

When the original building at the site was razed in 2008 as part of the remediation of the neighboring National Grid gas ball property, the village agreed, in a letter written by then-village attorney Fred W. Thiele Jr., that Mr. Schiavoni would be allowed to “construct an identical replacement of the building and retail uses” without the need of additional approvals from the village’s regulatory boards.

The plans submitted by Mr. Schiavoni clearly failed to meet the requirements outlined in that letter, Mr. Esposito said of a design that shows a taller building with a central clock tower that reaches a height of 34 feet. The building it would replace was a low-slung flat-roofed building about 20 feet high.

Meanwhile, Sean O’Neill, who heads 7-Eleven’s real estate division in the northeast, said the company was indeed looking for a new location in the village, but he would not confirm whether the company was in negotiations with Mr. Schiavoni.

“We’ve been a big part of this community since 1986, and we’d like to continue that,” he said. “We’re looking for a new location, but there is nothing set in stone.”

Mr. O’Neill said Adam Potter, the chairman of Friends of Bay Street, the nonprofit organization created last year to build a new home for the theater, had informed him earlier this year that 7-Eleven would have to move out by April. “We’ve been month to month for awhile,” Mr. O’Neill said, “so we have to vacate.”

He said Mr. Potter had offered the company space in the Dodds & Eder building at 11 Bridge Street but that it would not meet its needs. He said the company is looking for a minimum space of 3,000 square feet.

Mr. Potter has not said what Friends of Bay Street plan to do with the 7-Eleven space between now and when the building must be torn down to make way for the new theater.

After announcing he had purchased Dodds & Eder, he said he planned to lease space to a locally owned convenience store there. Those plans have been thrown into question because the Village Board, which had explored allowing convenience stores in the Office District, where that building is located, as part of a proposed waterfront rezoning, has since backed away from that proposal.

The original Schiavoni building was once home to a video shop, a fabrics store, pet shop, and travel agency, among other businesses over the years. Although it is now in the Office District, that zoning designation did not exist when the building was razed, which means that a convenience store could be constructed on the site.

Mr. Esposito said the village had also grandfathered in parking, which means Mr. Schiavoni would not need a variance for any shortage of parking spaces, provided he kept the building for retail uses, including a convenience store.

Mr. Schiavoni said he has been frustrated by the slow pace of the village review process, saying he has been trying to redevelop the site for more than six years. He had been seeking approval for a three-story mixed-use building, but decided to go the simpler route of replacing his original building. But he said he was stunned when he was told he had to build something that looked exactly like that old building when what he proposed, while taller, was no larger in terms of usable space.

“I would have saved the parts,” he said if he knew the village wanted to him to replicate the original building. “Oh my God, I threw them away.”

Mr. Schiavoni said he felt as though he was being mistreated by the village, which granted a number of variances for the condominiums being constructed across the street by developer Jay Bialsky and added he was certain Bay Street would receive the necessary variances for its project.

Mr. Schiavoni said his grandfather had built many of the buildings on Main Street and that it always made him proud when he walked down the street as a child. He said he had hoped to build an attractive building that his own grandchildren would feel proud about but now questioned if that would be possible.