01/15/14 11:00am
01/15/2014 11:00 AM
RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | The new Walmart on Route 58 features a fresh produce section.

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | The new Walmart on Route 58 features a fresh produce section.

After years of development, the new Walmart on the western end of Route 58 in Riverhead celebrated its grand opening Wednesday morning.

The new store, which features a Subway restaurant and an expanded line of groceries, is more than 30,000 square feet larger than the former Walmart located further east, also on Route 58. The former Walmart is now officially closed.

“We’re happy that Walmart is investing in the town of Riverhead, and it’s a beautiful brand new building,” said Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter. “Riverhead is a shopping district, pulling from Montauk to Orient Point to Brookhaven. Thousands of people will visit this Walmart and have the opportunity to see what Riverhead is all about.”

As part of its launch, Walmart presented $11,500 in grants to local non-profits, including Southold Troop 6, Parents’ Association of Riley Avenue and Suffolk County Sheriff’s office among others.

Walmart store manager Craig Winkler gives a speech at the new store Tuesday evening.

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO  |  Walmart store manager Craig Winkler gives a speech at the new store Tuesday evening.

Though originally planned to be a Walmart Supercenter, a Walmart spokeswoman confirmed last week the new location is a regular discount store. Supercenters typically include full-service grocery stores with delis, bakeries and sometimes hair salons.

Plans for the relocated Walmart stem from 2007, the year Riverhead Town approved initial building plans. That approval was challenged in court in two separate lawsuits, both of which were dismissed in May 2009.

Walmart will continue its grand opening celebrations in Riverhead this Saturday with its “Big Family Welcome” from noon to 3 p.m. During the event, customers will have the chance to meet store manager Craig Winkler and participate in activities like face painting, cupcake decorating and free food samples.

ryoung@timesreview.com

01/10/14 1:00pm
01/10/2014 1:00 PM
TIM GANNON PHOTO

TIM GANNON PHOTO

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.

01/08/14 7:00am
01/08/2014 7:00 AM
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. The owners are seeking approval to install a directory sign on the adjacent lot where Applebess is located.

The owners of the new Walmart store on the west end of Route 58 are seeking variances from the Riverhead Town Zoning Board of Appeals to allow an off-premise directory sign on the adjacent Applebees lot to advertise and identify the new shopping center and the stores located there.

They are also seeking ZBA variance to allow that sign to be larger than what the Town Code permits.

The ZBA has scheduled a hearing on the proposal for its Jan. 9 meeting, which starts at 7 p.m.

The new Walmart shopping center, which is being called Gateway Plaza, includes the Walmart store and several smaller stores under construction on the eastern portion of the 21-acre property.

The proposed directory sign would be located on the Applebees’ lot, according to to the application. The sign would be 96 square feet, 36 square feet more than is currently allowed. It would feature 8-foot panel signs when the limit is currently 4 feet. The sign would be 15 feet tall, nearly three times the current limit of 6 feet. The sign would also have more than the maximum of three businesses displayed on it, would be less than 100 feet from another sign and would be internally lit.

The shopping center is just west of the Applebees restaurant property, which has similar ownership.

The Walmart lot is owned by Headriver LLC and the Applebees’ lot is owned by OC Riverhead 58 LLC, according to town records, but both have the same address in Closter, N.J. That address is also the address of Lerner-Heidenberg Properties, which is advertising space for lease at both the Walmart and Applebees sites on its website.

The new Walmart store is scheduled to open on Jan. 15, and will eventually replace the existing Walmart further east on Route 58.

tgannon@timesreview.com

01/06/14 1:30pm
01/06/2014 1:30 PM
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.

After years of development, the new Walmart on the western end of Route 58 in Riverhead is slated to open Jan. 15, the company announced Monday morning.

The new store, which will include an expanded line of groceries, is more than 30,000 square feet larger than the existing Walmart located further east, also on Route 58.

“I’m proud to be a part of a team that is strengthening our local economy by bringing more jobs with great career opportunities to the area,” store manager Craig Winkler said in the press release. “I am looking forward to showing area residents our new store and all it has to offer – including convenience and savings for their everyday shopping needs.”

Though originally planned to be a Walmart Supercenter, a Walmart spokeswoman said Monday that the new location will be a regular discount store. Supercenters typically include full-service grocery stores with delis, bakeries and sometimes hair salons.

Plans for the relocated Walmart stem from 2007, the year Riverhead Town approved initial building plans. That approval was challenged in court in two separate lawsuits, both of which were dismissed in May 2009.

ryoung@timesreview.com

11/15/13 10:00am
11/15/2013 10:00 AM
IKE ISRAEL COURTESY PHOTO | An artist's rendering of the Northville Commerce Park.

IKE ISRAEL COURTESY PHOTO | An artist’s rendering of the Northville Commerce Park.

While three major construction projects on Route 58 within a quarter-mile have hummed along over the past couple of months, farther east up the road, progress at the Northville Commerce Park is moving along as well.

And new tenants are expected by the spring.

Sited at the corner of Northville Turnpike and Route 58, businesses at the planned 28,000-square-foot office complex are expected to start moving in come May, said Richmond Realty realtor Ike Israel, the property’s co-developer.

Work on the complex, which Mr. Israel said will ultimately contain four 7,200-square-foot buildings, began earlier this year.

The structural steel for one building has been erected and the foundation for another building is in the ground, Mr. Israel said. The exterior shell of a third building has also been constructed.

The building’s uses are still being determined, Mr. Israel said, but they will likely house medical and professional offices.

“We are negotiating with various types of tenants,” he said, adding that there are still some available spaces in the complex.

Mr. Israel’s vision for the complex, he said, is “Office space that has high exposure and is convenient to the hospital and the rest of Riverhead.”

Mr. Israel, who is developing the industrial park with his father – Richmond Realty broker and owner Richard Israel – said he hopes the complex will be completely finished by fall 2014.

“Our speed of construction is weather-dependent,” Ike Israel said.

Work on the project first began in 2010, when Riverhead-based Richmond Realty entered into a contract for the property. They began submitting site plans for approval in 2011.

Northville Commerce Park is one of several active commercial construction sites on Route 58. A Walmart Supercenter, located across the street from Tanger Outlets, is expected to open early next year, and a Costco is being constructed further east, across the street from the Riverhead Raceway.

Just east of the Riverhead Raceway sits another recently-completed shopping center, which contains a just-opened Dick’s Sporting Goods and Five Below. Starbucks, Buffalo Wild Wings and Christmas Tree Shops — all located in the plaza — are slated to open in the next few months.

ryoung@timesreview.com

03/05/13 1:54pm
03/05/2013 1:54 PM

liveblog

The Riverhead Town Board voted on resolutions dealing with several big projects at its meeting Tuesday afternoon.

The board granted conditional site plan approval for Island Water Park’s cable-towed water skiing park proposal in Calverton.

The board also approved an excavating permit for the a Walmart planned on the west end of Route 58, where work is expected to begin soon.

And a public hearing is now set for a plan to build a gym in the former Woolworth building in downtown Riverhead. That hearing will be March 19, at the board’s 7 p.m. meeting.

News-Review reporter Tim Gannon reported live Tuesday.

Click below to see what transpired.

 

01/17/13 6:05am
01/17/2013 6:05 AM
Riverhead, Walmart, Newtown, Sandy Hook, Route 58, Riverhead

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Ammunition is flying off shelves at the Riverhead Wal-Mart.

As state lawmakers put the finishing touches on stricter gun laws in the wake of last month’s Connecticut school shooting, county residents were working to get their hands on a dwindling stock of guns and ammunition.

The county sheriff’s office, which processes licensing applications within the county, has seen a “significant” increase in pistol applications over this past year, and yesterday in particular, said sheriff spokesman Michael Sharkey. Staffers received 20 applications on Tuesday alone, a number that just a few years ago would have been more typical of an entire month, he said.

“People are trying to stay ahead of the curve,” said Mr. Sharkey. “It seems the public got concerned over possible limitations to access.”

Riverhead, Gun Control, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Sandy Hook, Wal-Mart

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Bare ammunition shelves at the local Wal-Mart.

At the same time, ammunition is flying off shelves, said Matthew Daly, a Wal-Mart assistant manager who frequently works the firearms counter at the Route 58 store in Riverhead.

The store only has about 1 or 2 percent of its regular amount of ammunition left in stock, Mr. Daly said.

Gun owners also appear to be swelling numbers at the range, at least according to chatter on a Long Island Firearms’ group forum, where members have been posting about how busy the Calverton Shooting Range on Nugent Drive in Calverton was on a recent Sunday.

“Went to Calverton today and was surprised to see that the line of cars to get in was to and down the highway” one poster wrote. “Was there something special going on?”

“Lots of people buying guns right now and lots wanting to use them,” another person responded. “I think it’s going to be busy for a while.”

The 6,000-member group dedicates itself “to the preservation of our Second Amendment rights on a local level” according to its website.

On Tuesday night — about a month after the Dec. 14 shootings in Newtown, Conn. — Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the NYS Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act (NY SAFE Act), the first gun control bill adopted nationwide since the massacre, giving New York “the toughest protections against gun violence in the nation,” according to a press release from the governor’s office.

The new law requires mental health professionals to report to local mental health officials if they believe a patient may engage in conduct that would cause serious harm to themselves or others. If that patient was to own a gun, the license will be suspended and law enforcement would be authorized to remove the person’s firearm, according to the release.

The law also requires pistol permit holders to be re-certified at least every five years, a practice already done in Suffolk County.

“I think it’s good for control purposes,” said Mr. Sharkey. “You need to be able to make sure there have been no significant life changes that would impact a person’s gun use.”

Some local residents are not in support of the state’s new law.

Mr. Daly said he believes gun laws have violated New Yorkers’ constitutional rights.

“I am just disturbed,” he said. “I think we are being railroaded by our government.”

Gun education is the best way to control gun violence, he added.

“Education is everything with guns. Let someone use and feel a gun, and they will respect it,” he said.

The law also restricts gun magazines to holding seven rounds, which falls below the national average of 10, according to the release.

Howard Martin, a retired New York City police officer who lives in Manorville, said he’s concerned about the magazine-limits in the law, specifically that there is no exemption included for police officers.

“Criminals don’t follow the law,” he said. “They will put as many rounds in their magazine as they want to, and that puts law enforcement officers at a disadvantage.”

While President Barack Obama and federal lawmakers also work to tighten gun control in the United States, Mr. Martin said he has been around guns all his life, and that he finds the entire situation disheartening.

“Behind every tree, every window, every door there is a gun. It is the one thing that keeps America free,” Mr. Martin said.

“Guns are not bad, the problem is the criminals,” said Lucas Bennett, 25, of Riverhead, who was also found shopping at the Riverhead Wal-Mart. “What is being done is penalizing the law-abiding citizens for protecting themselves.”

11/08/12 12:48pm
11/08/2012 12:48 PM
Lewin, Riverhead police, WalMart

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Brian and Keith Lewin can now add ‘crime fighters’ to their family business sign, after catching a purse snatcher Thursday morning.

It’s Lewin brothers to the rescue!

When a Riverhead man snatched a woman’s pocketbook in the parking lot of WalMart a little after 10 a.m. Thursday,  Brian and Keith Lewin were loading a truck at their nearby family business, Lewin Medical Supply.

“I heard the lady yelling ‘police!, police!” Brian told the News-Review Thursday. “So I turned my head and saw a lady chasing a man with a pocketbook, and then I saw the man trying to jump the fence behind our neighbor’s house.”

Brian took off running after the suspect, and Keith took off down Oliver Street in the van.

“I caught him on the neighbor’s property and threw him to the ground,” Brian said. “Then when I took the pocketbook, he got up again and started running.

The man headed towards Oliver Street, and turned around to see Brian once again running after him.

But when he turned back around, he ran into the van that Keith was driving, Brian said.

“He tried to go around the back of the van, but I was already out of the van and threw him to the ground,” Keith said.

Riverhead police had already been called by a witness to the theft, and were on the scene within three minutes to arrest the man, Brian said.

Brian said he’d done anything like this before, although he added he didn’t think twice about chasing the suspect, who had a knife in his pocket when they caught him, according to Brian.

“I wouldn’t want anybody doing that to anybody I know,” Brian said.

Keith, who was in the Marines in the early 1990s, said a lot’s changed between his warrior days and now.

“We’re not athletes, dude, we’re old and fat,” he said.

Riverhead police identified the suspect as Albert Zachary, 42, of Riverhead.

He was charged with fourth-degree grand larceny, since there were credit cards in the pocketbook.

The charge wasn’t robbery because the suspect took the pocketbook out of a shopping cart and ran, police said. If the suspect had taken the purse directly from the victim, it could have been a robbery charge, police said.

tgannon@timesreview.com