Featured Story
02/14/16 12:00pm
02/14/2016 12:00 PM

Aldi employees lay down salt after a burst pipe caused flooding at the Route 58 store on Sunday. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

Shopppers making last minute Valentine’s Day purchases were turned away at three Route 58 stores on Sunday after burst pipes caused flooding which quickly turned to sheets of ice.

Water could be seen trickling out of the front doors of both the Aldi supermarket and the HomeGoods store about 11:30 a.m. Sunday morning, after frigid temps caused pipes at those stores to rupture. The water instantly froze, causing a slippery scene outside the entryways. READ

01/10/14 1:00pm
01/10/2014 1:00 PM


Lawyers representing two new plazas on Route 58 are looking for approval to bypass the town’s signage regulations, after one of the plaza owners has already been cited for violating the town’s signage code.

At Thursday’s ZBA meeting, the owners of the new Walmart shopping center asked for variances to allow a second directory sign that is much larger than the code permits, and located on a neighboring property.

And the owners of the Saber-Riverhead shopping center, which features Dick’s Sporting Goods and other stores, asked for permission to use the stores’ actual logos on their directory sign, with the two most prominent tenants — Dick’s and Christmas Tree Shops — displayed more prominently. The Town Code requires all the lettering on the signs to be identical in color, font and size, though the current signage already features Dick’s and Christmas Tree Shops in the stores’ logos.

Town Attorney Bob Kozakiewicz said on Friday that Saber-Riverhead had been cited recently for violating the town’s signage code, and the owners applied for the variance afterwards.

Charles Cuddy, the attorney for Saber-Riverhead, said that the stores in that shopping center are 600 feet off the road, and the corporate logos of stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Christmas Tree Shops are how people know the stores.

Mr. Cuddy said that the sign at Riverhead Centre display the logos of just Home Depot and Waldbaum in big letters, but the other stores are listed in smaller letter that is all the same size and color.

“You see nothing but just letters, and you have to go by and you have to stop your car and read it,” he told the ZBA. “We think it’s important to see the color and the logos that these companies have.”

TIM GANNON PHOTO | The new Walmart on Route 58 is scheduled to open Jan. 15 and will include an expanded line of groceries.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | The new Walmart on Route 58 is scheduled to open Jan. 15 and will include an expanded line of groceries.

“The sign code requires uniformity,” said Dominique Mendez of Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition. “That does make a big difference in what our town looks like. We don’t want loud colors.”

She said allowing Saber Riverhead to use logos would set a precedent, and then Route 58 would begin to look like Nassau County.

Bruno Lourenco, the director of real estate for ALDI, which opened a store on Friday in the Saber-Riverhead shopping center, said their logo is on all their stores and is recognized all over the world.

Mr. Cuddy said there is no impact on the community by allowing the corporate logos on the signs, and not doing so will not allow them to attract as much business.

ZBA member Otto Wittmeier disagreed.

“Most people that come to our town know where these businesses are,” Mr. Wittmeier added. “I don’t think anybody stops the car” to read the store signs, he added.

Larry Simms of South Jamesport said he thinks the current sign code should be enforced.

“I believe uniformity would be an improvement,” he said. “I’ve never seen a car stopping on Route 58 to locate a store.”

The ZBA plans to make a decision on that application on Jan. 23.

The owners of the new Walmart shopping center, which is being called Gateway Plaza, is seeking two directory signs, one at either end of the shopping center, and they are seeking permission to allow those signs to be bigger than permitted, and to allow one of them to be on an adjacent property owned by the same company.

Linda Margolin, the attorney for the applicant, said they would like to advertise the stores that will go in the 27,000-square foot shopping center being built just east of the Walmart store, on the sign. Those tenants have not be identified yet.

She said they want to locate the eastern directory sign on the adjacent Applebee’s property, which has similar ownership to the Walmart property, because there are utilities underground in that corner of the Walmart lot that prevent them from locating a sign there.

As for the size of the sign, the applicants are seeking a 96-square foot sign — the code allows signs to be no bigger than 60 square feet — and other variances for the directory sign. This way, they can advertise whatever tenants they lease space to in the 27,000 square foot shopping center, she said.

“Sixty square feet doesn’t take into account the number of tenants we are seeking identification for,” Ms. Margolin said.

If need be, they would agree to remove the existing free-standing signs for Applebee’s and Adchem and put those names on panels in the directory sign, Ms. Margolin said.

Lerner-Heidenberg Properties — the New Jersey company that owns both lots — is also advertising an additional 7,000 square feet of store space on the Applebees lot, according to their web site. Walmart is scheduled to open up on Jan. 15.

“You’re really pushing the limits of everything here, that’s for sure” ZBA chairman Fred McLaughlin said.

Former Riverhead Councilman George Bartunek, who was instrumental in developing the sign code, urged the ZBA to make the applicant comply with the code as much as possible so as not to create a precedent.

“If you look at what happened on Route 58 because of the sign code, Route 58 could look a lot worse,” Mr. Bartunek said.

The ZBA also plans to make a decision on that application on Jan. 23.

01/10/14 10:40am
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Store manager (far right) Christopher Marinos cuts the ribbon as customers waited outside Friday morning.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Store manager (far right) Christopher Marinos cuts the ribbon as customers waited outside Friday morning.

Discount grocery retailer Aldi opened at 9 a.m. Friday morning after a brief ceremonial ribbon cutting as around 50 customers waited outside in the cold. It is the fourth store to open in the Route 58 shopping center where Dick’s Sporting Goods, Five Below and Christmas Tree Shops is located. It is also the fourth store to open in Suffolk County of the privately held company, which came stateside in 1973 and has 1,300 store in 32 states.

The 18,000 square-foot store has five aisles which are open and bright with large signage and grocery items are stocked by case to make it more efficient. One of the aisles is stocked with non-grocery discount items which vice  president Bruce Persohn called “here today gone tomorrow” sale items. The store is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.

District manager Matt Schapiro said that they are in the middle of a coast-to-coast expansion, locally with stores in Lake Grove, Lindenhurst and Bay Shore. They are currently eyeing a location in Patchogue based on customer response. “We look to locate where there is anybody who needs groceries and likes to save money is a great customer as far as I’m concerned.”

Bridget and Frank Sears of Houston flew up just for the opening. His parents live in Riverhead and they shop at some of the five Aldi stores at home. They said that they love the shopping experience and discounts of the grocery chain.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | A customer grabs some goods at the Aldi opening on Friday morning.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Gorg Westermann of Wading River, formerly of Solatu, German, grabs some goods at the Aldi opening on Friday morning.

01/08/14 11:00am
01/08/2014 11:00 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Aldi will open on Route 58 in Riverhead Jan. 10, the company announced in a press release.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Aldi will open on Route 58 in Riverhead Jan. 10, the company announced in a press release.

Low-price grocery retailer Aldi will open its Route 58 store on Jan. 10, a public relations spokesperson for the company said in a press release. A 9 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held outside the store, which is located in a shopping center just east of Riverhead Raceway. A grand opening event with product samples and on-site sweepstakes for the chance to win Aldi gift cards will follow.

“We are pleased to bring our first store to Riverhead to help customers get high-quality products at everyday low prices,” said Bruce Persohn, South Windsor division vice president for Aldi. “We challenge shoppers to switch from national brands to our high-quality exclusive brands and save up to 50 percent without compromising. As important as price is, the only way to attract and keep shoppers is to have quality products.”

A national retailer with nearly 1,300 stores in 32 states, Aldi sells food and general merchandise under generic brands exclusive its company, a move the retailer claims saves customers money.

When Aldi launches later this week, it will be the fourth retailer in the new shopping center to open its doors, joining Dick’s Sporting Goods, Five Below and Christmas Tree Shops. Starbucks is still under construction in the plaza.

Buffalo Wild Wings, which is located in the shopping center next to Aldi, was previously expected to open Dec. 9 but remains closed.

[email protected]

11/27/13 4:19pm
11/27/2013 4:19 PM
COURTESY PHOTO | Buffalo Wild Wings is scheduled to open in Riverhead Dec. 9.

COURTESY PHOTO | Buffalo Wild Wings is scheduled to open in Riverhead Dec. 9.

Work up your appetite, wings fans: the general manager of the new Buffalo Wild Wings on Route 58 in Riverhead said the casual restaurant is slated to open Dec. 9.

“We’re very excited for the opening,” said Andrew Schuett, the general manager of the 6,000-square-foot Riverhead location, which is housed in the easternmost side of the new shopping complex located just east of Riverhead Raceway. “We’re going to bring a little bit of Buffalo Wild Wings to the East End.”

As part of its grand opening, Mr. Schuett said, the restaurant’s first 100 patrons will receive a voucher book entitling them to six free chicken wings a week for a year.

The plaza where Buffalo Wild Wings is located is also home to a recently-opened Dick’s Sporting Goods, Five Below and Christmas Tree Shops. Starbucks, Aldi and The Vitamin Shoppe — all located in the same shopping center — are scheduled to open in the next few months.

[email protected]

08/16/12 10:29pm
08/16/2012 10:29 PM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | A Christmas Tree Shops store is part of the proposed shopping center on Route 58 in Riverhead.

A Starbucks coffee shop with a drive-through window, a Dick’s Sporting Goods store and a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant are among the tenants slated for a 121,746-square-foot shopping center proposed on Route 58 in Riverhead.

The stores would be built on a 13-acre parcel which has been the subject of extensive litigation involving its prior owner, Larry Oxman, who has been involved in legal battles with Riverhead Town since being accused of illegally clearing the land in 2004. Mr. Oxman lost the land to foreclosure last year.

The new owner, a company called Saber Riverhead LLC, is based in Armonk, N.Y. and headed by Martin Berger.

Their site plan shows a 45,916-square-foot Dick’s Sporting Goods store, a 36,389-square-foot Christmas Tree Shops store, a 16,495-square-foot ALDI supermarket, an 8,555-square-foot Five Below store, a 6,600-square-foot Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant, and an 1,800-square-foot Starbucks, along with two smaller retail spots that have yet to be leased, according to Rick Decola, a representative for the applicant.

Ironically, the founder of ALDI is the brother of the founder of Trader Joe’s, a store that some Riverhead residents had formed a Facebook site to try and lure to Riverhead, without success.

The Saber Riverhead site plan calls for the demolition of a vacant real estate office toward the front of the property, where the Starbucks and a 1,500 retail store are proposed. The other stores would be located toward the back, or south part, of the property.

The applicants are proposing to build a berm on the adjacent Glenwood mobile home park property, in an agreement with the park, to screen the homes there from the development, Mr. Decola said.

The site plan also calls for a traffic light on Route 58 that will link with the proposed entrance of another proposed shopping center on the north side of Route 58.

That shopping center is called The Shops at Riverhead and would feature a Costco Wholesale Warehouse as its lead tenant.

Neither shopping center has town approvals yet.

The Saber Riverhead proposal was discussed at Thursday’s Riverhead Town planning board meeting, where one of the criticisms board members had was with the parking.

“This is a sea of parking,” said planning board chairman Richard O’Dea. “All you see here is parking and everything else is way in the back.”

“It’s like Target and Sports Authority all over again,” said planning board member Lyle Wells.

The site plan shows 596 parking spots, which is actually 30 fewer than what the town code requires. The applicants believe that with shared parking, they only need 350 spaces.

Mr. Decola said they have leases in place with all of the tenants they’ve named and have just two smaller spaces that have yet to be leased.

The planning board took no official action on the proposal, which will be revised to meet some of the suggestions made in a planning department report before coming back to the board. The Suffolk County Planning Commission had recommended a conditional approval of the application in December.

One of their recommendations suggested the town clarify the permitted use in the property’s Business Center zoning, which the commission said permits banks and retail stores but not “shopping centers.”

The county commission also recommended the applicant considering using transfer of development rights, in which applicants can buy development rights off of farmland that the town aims to preserve in order to use those rights to increase the amount of development permitted in a commercial zone.

The applicant is now proposing to buy to purchase about four or five development right credits in order to be built at the square footage proposed. An earlier site plan from the applicant showed only 118,650 square feet of development.

[email protected]