Condos, cottages and even an industrial park.
To passersby of The Shoppes at East Wind in Wading River, the complex has been misidentified as all of the above, said Louis Ambrosio, who owns an ice cream shop there. Steve Tepper, who owns The Beginning Apparel, said customers have told him they thought it was a professional center.
Business owners there say it’s become a problem for The Shoppes at East Wind, which debuted its first store in 2016, and hope the addition of signs will help alert drivers to what’s inside.
The misidentification was partly by design. Peter Danowski, the attorney representing Shoppes owner Kenney Barra, said Riverhead Town didn’t want a so-called “strip mall” at the site and pushed for a “village-themed” set of buildings, which is how it was built. The problem is, the signs face inward, so people driving by have a hard time identifying what stores are inside unless they pull in, get out of their cars and walk up to each one.
Mr. Barra sought a variance from the Riverhead Town Zoning Board of Appeals to allow directory signs and other free-standing signs so that the businesses are identifiable from the road.
“It’s a beautiful center,” Mr. Ambrosio said at last Thursday’s ZBA hearing on the proposal. “There’s nothing like it anywhere.”
“Ken Barra has done a terrific job of building a family-friendly village,” said Lyn Cooperman, who owns North Fork Craft Gallery. “Unfortunately, we’re not doing a great job of letting the community and our tourist visitors know what a family-friendly, safe place we have for people to come and spend time.”
All told, about 15 shop owners showed up at the ZBA meeting to voice support for the signs.
“A lot of us are relying on these signs,” Mr. Tepper said.
The ZBA approved the proposal by a 4-0 vote, with one member absent.
Photo caption: The Shoppes at East Wind opened in Wading River in 2016. (Vera Chinese, file photo)
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Steve Tepper as Tupper.