Town Adds Ferry Road Property to CPF Wish List

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By Stephen J. Kotz

The Southampton Town Board on Tuesday agreed to add a series of waterfront parcels in Sag Harbor to its Community Preservation Fund wish list, despite a statement from the property’s new developer that it is moving forward with its plans to transform the property into 11 luxury condominiums.

Architect Gary Brewer, right, discusses plans for the Ferry Road property with village officials.
Architect Gary Brewer, right, discusses plans for the Ferry Road property with village officials.

On Thursday, October 22, architects with Robert A.M. Stern Architects, a New York firm, presented conceptual plans for a townhouse-type development to the Sag Harbor Village Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review.

“We want to say for the record we are not interested in selling the property at this time. We are developers who are interested in developing it,” said Thomas Pugliese, the project manager with Greystone Property Development, at a brief hearing before the town board to add the property to the CPF wish list. “It is our intention to move forward with a process that is already in place with the Village of Sag Harbor and its planning board.”

“Well, that’s too bad,” responded Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, who nonetheless asked if the developers would be willing to discuss a possible sale with the town.

Mr. Pugliese said Greystone, which recently purchased an interest in the property from East End Ventures and is now spearheading the development effort, would at least be willing to talk to the town about the possibility of preserving the land.

“I think you are probably aware and will be made further aware just how important it is to the community that this property not be developed because of its location, because of what it means in terms of community character and from an environmental perspective,” said Ms. Throne-Holst.

“We’d be open to discuss with you options in the future if you want to sit down to have an open dialogue,” Mr. Pugliese responded.

That sounded like a window of opportunity to Sag Harbor Mayor Sandra Schroeder, who attended Tuesday’s hearing with Trustees Robby Stein and James Larocca, and village attorney Fred W. Thiele Jr.

“They are saying it’s not on the market now,” Ms. Schroeder said on Wednesday, adding that she believed that could change if Greystone were willing to listen to public opinion.

“The town is totally with us on this,” she said on Wednesday, “that the best use of that property is for a park—for the public.”

At Tuesday’s hearing, Ms. Schroeder told the town board the village residents are strongly behind the idea of developing the waterfront on either side of the Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge into what it has tentatively named the John Steinbeck Memorial Park.

Mr. Larocca said the property had become derelict since East End Ventures acquired it and said there remained questions about what the actual ownership arrangement is.

“There are representations ‘we are the owners,’ ‘we are in a joint venture, ‘we are the partners,’” Mr. Larocca said at Tuesday’s hearing. “It’s not clear on the record just who the owners are.”

In August, shortly after the village announced it wanted to use CPF money to try to purchase the property in the shadow of the North Haven bridge and which has been known as 1,3,5 Ferry Road, the owners, East End Ventures, whose principals Michael Maidan and Emil Telal have had a stormy relationship with the village, announced they had taken on Greystone as an equity partner.

But when deed transfers that were made public showed the three main parcels selling recently for $619,000 apiece, there was speculation that Mr. Maidan and Mr. Telal had sold out.

Dennis Downes, who has represented the Ferry Road project before the village’s regulatory boards, said last week that was not the case. The sale of the property was from one limited partnership controlled by Mr. Maidan and Mr. Telal, to another, in which they share an interest in the property with Greystone, he said. The sales prices were relatively modest for waterfront property, he added, to reduce Mr. Maidan and Mr. Telal’s tax liability.

That Greystone is serious about the project was underscored at last week’s ARB meeting, when an army of architects toting a scale model and sheaves of drawings and elevations, arrived at the Municipal Building. The project was on last week’s agenda as an informal discussion item, which allows an applicant to present its idea to the board for its initial response.

Architect Gary Brewer showed the board a series of drawings in which the 1,3,5 Ferry Road parcels, site of the former Remkus fishing station and Harborview Professional Building, was transformed into a rowhouse-type development with eight condominiums, which would be accessed by a roughly semicircular drive entering on West Water Street and exiting near the base of the bridge. Each unit would have its own garage and be designed to provide maximum water views, with expansive windows and decks.

Greystone also plans to renovate the white building on Water Street that was formerly the home of attorney Bruce Davis. That building would be transformed into three condo units.

Mr. Brewer told the board the idea would be to create buildings that “look like houses that typically would have been built at the height of the whaling industry.”

If the developers were looking for a green light from the board, they were disappointed. “We’re really not in a position to make much comment,” said board chairman Tony Brandt, who added there were still many “hoops” for the project to go through. “This has been educational, to say least,” he said. “It gives us something to think about.”

 

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