04/23/13 2:45pm
04/23/2013 2:45 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Workers clean out the Knu Style-N-Temple barber shop on East Main Street Tuesday morning.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Workers clean out Knu Style-N-Temple on East Main Street Tuesday.

An East Main Street barber shop is being shut down after getting evicted from its space, law enforcement personnel said at the scene Tuesday morning.

A manager at the store declined to comment.

Store owner Charlie Green didn’t want to talk about the circumstances around the eviction, but said he was trying to take the move in stride.

“God has his way of moving things, making things move,” Mr. Green said. “Everything happens for a reason.”

A pile of chairs, decorations, and potted plants was stacked outside the store Tuesday morning, as workers loaded the supplies into a moving truck and nearby van.

Knu Style N Temple had moved to the Woolworth building location last November.

The store was on Peconic Avenue for the previous 11 years, and was on Old Quogue Road in Riverside for five years before that, owner Charlie Green previously told the News-Review

Plans are in the works to renovate the recently sold Woolworth building for apartments and retail, including a gym.

Mr. Green said he wasn’t sure whether the barber shop would reopen in a new location.

“It’s up in the air,” he said. “Right now everything is in God’s hands.”

psquire@timesreview.com

03/05/13 11:04am
03/05/2013 11:04 AM
Suffolk Theater in Riverhead

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | The Suffolk Theater’s grand re-opening night.

The numbers are in, and the Suffolk Theater sold exactly 609 tickets to Saturday night’s grand opening gala in downtown Riverhead, theater officials told the News-Review Tuesday.

In fact, the “Back to the ’30s” cocktail party, which commemorated the recently renovated and reopened theater’s 1933 opening, was such a success that theater owners Bob and Dianne Castaldi are considering making it an annual anniversary event.

“I’m delighted. The overall feel and enthusiasm we’ve been able to create here is remarkable,” Bob Spiotto, the theater’s executive director, said of the event’s outcome and ticket tallies.

“It will certainly be a event that will go down in history,” he said.

Tickets sold for $125 apiece for the party, which featured 1930s-style decor inside and out, and period costumes for staffers and attendees alike.

While there was plenty of seating, the event at its peak was standing room only, theater officials said.

03/03/13 10:00am
03/03/2013 10:00 AM
KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | The grand ballroom at Saturday's grand re-opening gala.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTOS | The Suffolk Theater’s grand ballroom at Saturday’s grand re-opening gala.

Opening night at the newly restored Suffolk Theatre in downtown Riverhead was a show stopper.

Hundreds packed the venue on Saturday to celebrate the theater’s grand reopening. The “Back to the 30’s” cocktail party marked the first time the theater has been open for business since it screened “Dirty Dancing” in 1987.

“We’re tired, but it feels great,” owner Bob Castaldi said. “This is what we’ve been waiting for.”

The theater first opened in December 1933. More than 80 years later, it remains the last large art deco theater on Long Island, theater officials say.

After buying the theater in 2005, and after litigation with the town halted progress on work, Mr. Castaldi and his wife, Dianne, have spent the last three years restoring the theatre to its former glory. Most of the fixtures and detailing are true to the original building.

Massapequa resident Jim Frost took notice. He recalled coming to the theater as a young boy. On grand opening night — a night two swiveling spotlights shot light back and forth off the clouds, and Main Street was lined with vintage cars —  he took his wife, Mimi, to enjoy the celebration and reminisce.

“It’s wonderful,” Frost said. “We bought tickets right away. I haven’t been this excited about an event in a long time.”

There was no stone left unturned, right down to the ragtime music gracing the stage. The party came to life with the help of Vince Giordano’s band, The Night Hawks. The ensemble won a 2012 best compilation soundtrack Grammy for its work on HBO’s prohibition-era series Boardwalk Empire.

Party guests indulged in the era. They dressed for the occasion and were sure to hit the dance floor.

“This has been something I’ve been talking about since I was 10,” explained Erin McKenna, whose mother has volunteered during the restoration. Ms. McKenna now lives in New York City but made a special trip to support the theater.

Many believe the theater is going to help the long-beleaguered downtown area start attracting much more people and businesses.

“It’s finally here,” Ms. McKenna said. “This is so important for Riverhead.”

The grand opening gala officially ended about9 p.m., but not many noticed. The party continued well into the night, as DJ Aly Di Nas kept guests dancing at the after party that featured signature cocktails.

In the upcoming weeks and months, the Suffolk Theatre will showcase a variety of classic movies, hold live concerts and dance parties and even a couple of magic shows.

To check out the full list of upcoming events, log on to www.suffolktheater.com

02/24/13 7:53am
02/24/2013 7:53 AM

A traffic stop on East Main Street led to the arrest of two men on drug charges Saturday night, Riverhead Town Police said in a press release

David Brown, 37, of Flanders and Michael Bambrick, 25, of Riverhead were found to be in possession of a narcotic — police did not disclose the type of drug — and drug paraphernalia, police said.

The men were charged with three counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia and criminal possession of marijuana, police said.

Both men were transported to police headquarters and held overnight for arraignment, police said.

02/22/13 1:40pm
02/22/2013 1:40 PM
downtown Riverhead cleaned up

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Highway crews downtown about noon Friday.

The Riverhead highway department partially closed a section of downtown Riverhead’s East Main Street Friday to clear away big piles of snow that had remained along the road after this month’s monster blizzard.

“I wanted to get all the neighborhoods open before I shifted my crews to downtown,” said Riverhead Highway Superintendent George (Gio) Woodson. “This way, when people come to town, they have somewhere to park. It helps out the store owners.”

The work started in the morning and was wrapped up by about 1:15 p.m. Friday, when the road reopened to traffic.

East Main Street had one lane closed while the crews cleared the snow from the side of the other lane.

tgannon@timesreview.com

02/19/13 11:00am
02/19/2013 11:00 AM

LONG ISLAND AQUARIUM PHOTO | Jelly, a North American river otter, gave birth to four pups this weekend.

The Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead closes during most overnight hours — but nature doesn’t stop.

That was apparent Saturday morning, when staffers discovered four newborn North American river otters in the Otter Falls exhibit, which opened in 2008.

The pups were born to the aquarium’s river otter couple, Peanut Butter, the male, and Jelly, the female. Officials say the pups are healthy, and are being kept in a secluded area — away from the public’s eye — with their mother as they nurse, sleep and grow.

“While it’s still very early, they all seem to be doing well and Jelly is being a fabulous mother as expected,” aquarium officials said in a release. “The otter pups and mom are inside in the holding areas of the exhibit while the male, PB, is still on exhibit.”

The pups won’t be visible to the public until they start moving on their own, which will take about a month. They’ll nurse for four months.

In the meantime, the aquarium released photos of the newborns.

LONG ISLAND AQUARIUM CENTER PHOTO | The four river otter pups born this weekend.

From the aquarium:

The playful North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) is equally at home in the water as it is on land. Once abundant in U. S. and Canadian rivers, lakes, and coastal areas, the North American river otter can today be found in parts of Canada, the Northwest, upper Great Lakes area, New England, and Atlantic and Gulf Coast states. 

Members of the weasel family, river otters enjoy sliding down muddy and snowy hills, bouncing objects on their paws, playing tag, and wrestling.

02/15/13 11:00am
02/15/2013 11:00 AM
Woolworth cops

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO |
Riverhead police officers Brian Clements and Chris Parkin in front of the Woolworth building Friday.

Downtown Riverhead’s former Woolworth building is changing hands today.

Woolworth Revitalization LLC’s managing partner, Michael Butler of Sag Harbor, told the News-Review Thursday that the $2.2 million closing is scheduled for Friday morning in NYC.

And he hopes to begin renovations on the 25,000-square-foot space in the next month.

“We’re going to be doing a big refurbishment of the building, including new roofs and new electric service,” Mr. Butler said. “The Woolworth’s side hasn’t been used for 15 or 20 years now and how we re-do the other side will really depend on the new tenants.”

Woolworth went out of business in 1997, and the building has been empty since then. It was purchased for about $4 million in 2006 by the Manhattan-based Apollo Real Estate Advisors investment group when that company proposed a $500 million downtown revitalization project that since fell apart.

Mr. Butler, who has been involved in urban revitalization projects in New York City, said his company’s purchase of the building is evidence of the long-beleaguered downtown area’s growing value.

“I think Riverhead is on the ups,” he said. “We wouldn’t have bought the building if it wasn’t. I think it’s going to be a nice place to live and the more people that we get living downtown, the better. The town did a great job revitalizing the waterfront. There’s already some yoga, some new restaurants – the Suffolk Theater is going to be opening next door – so it’s going to be great.”

About 20 apartments are planned for the building’s upstairs, which would be a mix of mostly studio and one-bedroom apartments, as well as some two-bedroom apartments, Mr. Butler said.

He sees the new apartments as an ideal place for young people who are trying to get their lives started on the North Fork.

“It’s going to be a great place for the younger generation of young professionals that don’t want to live in a basement,” he said in an interview Thursday. “And if they have a car there’s plenty of parking in the back.”

The building will be able to fit between one and five retail tenants.

“It’s probably going to be restaurant and stores, but it’s hard to tell at this point,” Mr. Butler said. “It’s a great space for entertainment-related things because it’s got huge, huge ceilings.”

The high ceilings make it an ideal space for a food market or for indoor recreation purposes, he said.

He hopes to begin renovations of the downstairs in a month, though a time frame is uncertain

The closing comes more than a week after the Riverhead Industrial Development Agency approved tiered tax breaks for the project, which require Mr. Butler reach construction thresholds before certain abatements kick in.

In addition to the purchase of the Woolworth’s building, more downtown developments are already in the works, the News-Review has learned.

Lucky Liquor is slated to open next to Griffing Hardware with one upstairs apartment on West Main Street, health supplement supply franchise, called Herbalife, planned for a storefront just to the west of the new liquor store.

gvolpe@timesreview.com

02/14/13 5:00pm
02/14/2013 5:00 PM
Riverhead woolworth

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The former Woolworth building on East Main Street.

The Riverhead Industrial Development Agency last week approved a series of tax incentives for the redevelopment of the former Woolworth building in downtown Riverhead.

The tiered schedule requires the developer to meet certain goals before property tax incentives can be awarded.

Michael Butler of Sag Harbor, managing partner of Woolworth Revitalization LLC, is in contract to buy the mostly vacant building and restore it as a mixed-use development with apartments on the second floor and retail space on the ground level.

The building, which has been proposed for a multiplex movie theatre on several occasions — only to see those plans later fall apart — has been largely vacant since Woolworth left in 1997, save for some small shops in the building’s eastern end.

The IDA’s standard tax incentive involves exemptions on county mortgage recording tax, exemptions on sales tax for building materials and property tax exemptions on the value of the improvements to a property that start at 50 percent and decrease by 5 percent each year over 10 years.

But with the Woolworth project, the IDA will be eventually giving a 100 percent property tax reduction, requiring the applicant work up to that level by meeting certain benchmarks before those reductions are awarded. The property tax reductions apply only to improvements made to the property, so that the taxes will not be lower than what they currently are.

The approval is worded such that the quicker the job is finished, the sooner the 100 percent reduction is achieved.

“I think that’s excellent, to put benchmarks in for developers to attain and then, if they don’t attain them, they don’t get the benefits,” Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said in an interview about the IDA approval.

“My position has always been that the only two places that should be getting IDA benefits in this town are downtown Riverhead and EPCAL [Enterprise Park at Calverton],” he said, adding that having apartments downtown will create foot traffic, which will draw more businesses to the area.

The breakdown of the property tax reduction benchmarks is as follows, according to the IDA’s approval resolution:

• To get the 25 percent reduction, the applicant must complete the asbestos removal and demolition of the building.

• To get the 50 percent reduction in property taxes, the applicant must get permits and approvals for renovation of both the building’s facade and a 2,000-square-foot retail space on the ground floor.

• For the 75 percent reduction, the applicant must achieve “substantial completion” of ground floor renovations so that the sites are “clean and painted, with electrical service, lighting, flooring and ready-for-tenant specific improvements.”

• Finally, to receive the 100 percent property tax reduction, all site plan and building department approvals must be obtained for the second-floor apartments, on which construction must have begun.

The IDA approval, granted last Monday, was unanimous.

“We’re rebuilding Main Street and rebuilding Riverhead,” said IDA member Paul Thompson.

tgannon@timesreview.com