BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Cecil Sweeney, a laborer with A1 Reliable Industries Corporation of Farmingdale, takes a break on the second floor of the Woolworth building Thursday afternoon.
Demolition of the 25,000-square-foot Woolworth building in downtown Riverhead began this week.
Michael Butler, Woolworth Revitalization LLC’s managing partner, said Thursday a construction crew is in the midst of demolishing the building’s interior.
“It’s moving along,” Mr. Butler said. “Right now we’re essentially opening up the whole downstairs and getting rid of everything that was rotten and old.”
Mr. Butler couldn’t predict when the demolition will be finished but said it would take at least another month.
“The building had a lot of water damage and it was neglected a long time,” he said.
Ultimate Fitness, a longtime Route 58 gym, is expected to begin occupying 20,000 square feet of the building’s first floor once construction is finished, possibly in September.
The remaining 5,000 square feet on the first floor will be carved into additional retail space and has already generated a good deal of interest from potential tenants, Mr. Butler said.
“There has been a lot of interest from food-related businesses more than anything, whether it’s restaurants or take-out places,” Mr. Butler said.
Building plans also call for 19 apartment units on the building’s 15,000-square-foot second floor.
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 Apollo Real Estate Advisors, a Manhattan-based investment group. At the time, Apollo was proposing a $500 million revitalization for almost all of downtown, though that project later fell apart.
Mr. Butler, who lives in Sag Harbor, purchased the property from Apollo Real Estate Advisors earlier this year.
“We’re fixing it up and in the end it’s going to be a great building,” he said.