The commercial corridor of Bridgehampton runs roughly from the Bridgehampton Commons to the Sag Harbor Turnpike/Montauk Highway intersection.
We see a very different economic and social environment in 2009 than in 2004 when the Hamlet study was completed, yet the tenor of commercial development has not changed with the times. There are many parcels in some phase of planning or construction. Prospective uses include retail/office/housing and, in the case of the Bull’s Head Inn, a resort destination and spa.
These projects raise questions of traffic, parking, lighting, visual impact, mass, setbacks – and perhaps especially important today – economic viability. What will the Hamlet be left with if offices are vacant and businesses fail? Perhaps it’s time to consider creative alternatives like a “retainer park” for the Carvel/Barnes & Nobel area.
Many of Bridgehampton’s residents want a walkable hamlet, someplace to buy our newspapers, get a cup of coffee, get a prescription filled. We have already lost some of that character to office buildings with national real estate names blazoned on the facades.
It may be great to have Citarella in the village, but it’s not a neighborhood grocery store. Residents who depended on the IGA for a quart of milk are out of luck.
Here is a partial list of properties in play in the commercial corridor.
1) Bridgehampton Commons: While the tenant mix will undoubtedly change (there is a rumor that Staples will be taking over the space rented by Talbots), the parameters of this large commercial parcel will remain unchanged.
2) Carvel-Barnes & Noble – These properties are owned by several entities and all parcels are currently for sale. Property is still zoned for highway business. It was clear when the plans were announced five years ago that Bridgehampton does not want to see a matching commercial property across the street from the Commons. Question: was the PDD (Planned Development District) zoning change ever instituted?
3) Parcel between Sleepy’s and Pizza Restaurant has just been bought by Ari Meisel.
4) 2183 Montauk Highway: Antique store opposite BNB – owned by Meisel Development. Plans are for state of the art offices, 1000 to 4000 square feet.
5) IGA – to become Citarella; plan to be submitted to Planning Board
6) Corner of Butter Lane and Montauk Highway::4 separate buildings: two office buildings, two residences
7) Gas Station – to be renovated and enlarged
8) Real Estate Office– For Sale
9) Sandford House at 2297Montauk Highway; Plan is to move the existing Sandford House to Church Lane and build a retail/office building that fronts on Montauk Highway, up to about 9,000 square feet. Buildings will be 3000 square feet each.
10) Konner property on Montauk Highway in the Village; two-story clapboard-siding 4600 square foot building 25-30 feet off the street; retail/office
11) Farrell Building – formerly the Benson Gallery Benson-Farrell – shingle facade in place of original brick; office/apartments
12) Bull’s Head Inn: plans are for a destination resort/spa with a hotel (the Bull’s Head), 4 guest cottages, a restaurant, a 50 person conference center and a 69 space parking lot. that some residents feel is out of keeping with the spirit of the Hamlet to say nothing of the traffic problems that it will create, and the down-zoning precedent that could be set if the adjacent parcels are changed from residential to commercial.
13) Ackerman Corner – Plan is to tear down beverage store and Robbins-Wolfe house and build retail/office space that wraps around the corner; actually two two-story buildings; Ten Lumber Lane to be brick; Building on Montauk Highway to be shingle;
When these properties are considered as a whole, it is clear that there will be a glut of office space in Bridgehampton. While the developers may prefer office clients to retail because they are supposedly “safer” for the longer term, we need to look at the economic environmental impact of new development in the Hamlet as carefully as we look at other factors.
WHO IS GOING TO BE RENTING ALL THOSE OFFICES? AND IF THEY REMAIN EMPTY, WHAT IMPACT DOES THAT HAVE ON OUR COMMUNITY?
As these parcels make their way before the Planning Board, let’s think ahead about what we would like to see and how we can present a developer/land owner with creative ideas that maintain our “brand”, the same brand that brought the real estate developer here in the first place, while ensuring that he has a successful venture.