Plans for downtown Riverhead writing, art center ‘killed’

08/28/2012 9:00 AM |
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Architect Heather Brin of Port Jefferson, left, and accountant Wendy Yusin of Riverhead in April, outside what was set to become a bookstore and writing center.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Architect Heather Brin of Port Jefferson, left, and accountant Wendy Yusin of Riverhead in April, outside what was set to become a bookstore and writing center.

A expected new chapter in the history of downtown Riverhead has ended just a few weeks before it could really begin.

Plans for Jewl’s Book Shoppe & Writing Centre, a bookstore that was to open in the old Suffolk Trust building on East Main Street this fall, have been cancelled, said the Riverhead woman heading the project.

Wendy Yusin, who had planned to buy the building with architect Heather Brin, said she “killed” plans for the bookstore on Friday after financing for the business fell through.

“I’m very disappointed,” she said. “Normally, I’m not at a loss for words, but this time, I don’t know.”

The store would have been a place for independent authors to gather and learn more about writing, as well as receive help on writing projects, she said.

The building, built in 1910 and currently unoccupied, would have also housed a potter’s studio in the basement and an artist’s loft on the top floor of the two story building.

“I have had people waiting to do their writing projects,” Ms. Yusin said. “I had a waiting list for artists to show their work.”

Ms. Yusin said the bookstore will live on through a website to be launched in the next month or two.

“[A website] was going to be done anyways regardless of whether I had the shop or not,” she said. “The idea’s not dead, it just won’t be in a physical location. It’s unfortunate.”

Ms. Yusin suggested leaders in the town, both in government and in the business community, consider developing an “investment arm” to assist entrepreneurs who wish to buy properties downtown, saying that not enough options were available to help small business owners looking to move to the area.

But Ray Pickersgill, president of the Riverhead Business Improvement District, said there are financing options available through the town’s Industrial Development Agency, as well as tax breaks.

“You don’t have to be an owner of a building to get a tax break, as long as you do a major investment in the building, you get a tax break,” he said.

IDA representatives were unable to be reached for comment.

Still, Ms. Yusin, a former teacher and accountant, said that aside from the tax breaks, a “grassroots” campaign would help local small business owners in Riverhead get their ideas off the ground.

“Conceptually there needs to be a movement to help the small businessperson,” Ms. Yusin said. “Someone needs to take that initiative. People need to care out here, and maybe this is a wakeup.”

psquire@timesreview.com

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