Size of West Water Street Condos Questioned

The view from West Water Street of a rendering of the condominiums proposed by developer Jay Bialsky. Courtesy image

Sag Harbor’s Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review on Thursday told developer Jay Bialsky and architect Dave Harvey they would likely face an uphill battle for their proposed town house complex at 2 West Water Street based on its size.

“I think our critique should be we need to explore how much we can persuade you to reduce the size,” board chairman Anthony Brandt said during a preliminary discussion session on Thursday. “The size is really the biggest issue. I don’t know if we’re going to succeed in doing that or not, but we’re going to try.”

According to records on file with the Sag Harbor Building Department, the three townhouses in the complex are to measure 10,224 square feet, 8,750 square feet and 8,766 square feet. The maximum size for an apartment in the office district is 2,500 square feet, unless a developer can get a variance for the difference from the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals.

The building is also proposed at three stories, where two stories is usually the limit, so a variance for a third would be necessary to proceed. Related to that, the maximum height of a building is 35 feet, whereas 2 West Water Street is proposed at 48.5 feet tall, so a variance would be needed for the height of the structure as well.

Buildings in the office district are not subject to the pyramid law that governs the sky plane, to which residential projects must conform.

“Frankly, I think you’ll have trouble with the zoning board,” Mr. Brandt said. “I don’t know that for sure. I’m just guessing.”

The BHPAR declined to give extensive feedback to the developer and architect on Thursday, suggesting when they go before the ZBA on August 21, that could affect the plans they see next.

“It’s going to be the tallest building built in this village in over 100 years so they’ll be the ones who are the arbiter of the height,” board member Val Florio said.

Designer, Neighbors Reach Agreement During Public Hearing

Elizabeth Dow, a well-known textile and wall-covering designer whose services were once retained by former President Barack Obama, recently purchased a house at 133 Jermain Avenue. After a public hearing Thursday before the Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review, Ms. Dow earned permission to expand and renovate the house.

During the hearing, a neighboring couple, the Dicksteins, objected to one part of Ms. Dow’s plans: the location of the pool equipment, slated to be built next to the house rather than next to the pool.

It’s not often that you see neighbors with conflicting opinions shake hands in the municipal building meeting room, but Ms. Dow shook hands with Lore Dickstein, and within minutes, they had worked out their differences. Ms. Dow agreed to relocate the pool equipment to a location farther back on the property, which still conformed to village code.

The house, listed as an historic house according to the village’s survey, dates back to approximately 1843. The two-story, three-bay frame residence currently comes in at 2,620 square feet. Ms. Dow will expand it to 3,226 square feet, with the addition of a library and first-floor master bathroom, expansion of the kitchen and addition of a second floor above the kitchen.

After brief consultation with Zach Studenroth, the board’s historic preservation consultant, Ms. Dow opted to abandon a shingled design for the façade of the house only and put clapboard on it, matching the other sides of the house.

“There’s some complicated massing going on here, but it succeeds in the principle, which is retaining the attention to the existing historic resource so that the additions are not disguising or concealing it,” Mr. Studenroth said.

On Monday, board chairman Anthony Brandt said he thought the designs were done “very tastefully.”

“She was always very open to suggestions, so I’m feeling pretty good,” he said. “I’m not crazy about any house that gets much larger, but she did this very well.”