10/08/14 2:42pm
10/08/2014 2:42 PM
Michael Butler, managing partner with Woolworth Revitalization, LLC, said Riverhead has "all the components."

Michael Butler, managing partner with Woolworth Revitalization, LLC, said Riverhead has “all the components.” (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Michael Butler and his wife launched an environmentally sustainable eco-lodge in the Costa Rican rainforest 13 years ago, so opening 19 units of affordable housing on East Main Street in Riverhead doesn’t seem quite as daunting.

“That’s why this doesn’t seem as crazy, right?” he said (more…)

12/04/13 10:37am
12/04/2013 10:37 AM
TIM GANNON PHOTO | Michael Butler, center, who heads Woolworth Revitalization LLC, at a press conference on Tuesday to announce grants the project will get from county and state levels of government.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Michael Butler, center, who heads Woolworth Revitalization LLC, at a press conference on Tuesday to announce grants the project will get from county and state levels of government.

It was a good week for Woolworth Revitalization LLC, the company that’s renovating the former Woolworth building in downtown Riverhead into new stores, a gym and 19 affordable apartments.

On Monday, the Riverhead Industrial Development Agency voted to give the mixed-use development a 75 percent property tax exemption on the improvements to be made to the property.

On Tuesday, a bill was filed in the county Legislature to allocate $250,000 toward the project to offset infrastructure and utility costs, and County Executive Steve Bellone held a press conference to announce the county’s support for the project.

“We’re hear to announce that, thanks to a resolution introduced today by Legislator Al Krupski, $250,000 in funding support for this critical project will be provided by Suffolk County to offset some of the infrastructure costs associated with the project, helping to make the project possible,” Mr. Bellone said.

The IDA property tax exemption will apply to the tax bills that will go out this month and will only apply to new construction at the site, and not to the existing land value.

The 75 percent figure was attained through a tiered set of benchmarks that the IDA approved for the project in February in an attempt to base the rate of exceptions on how close the project is to completion.

Woolworth Revitalization, headed by Michael Butler of Sag Harbor, still can reach the 100 percent tax exemption next year, and likely will, according to IDA executive director Tracy Stark James. The exemption lasts 10 years, meaning that it can be 75 percent for the first year, but 100 percent for the next nine years.

IDA members said that while Mr. Butler hadn’t met all of the benchmarks required for the 75 percent exemption, he had met all of the requirements for the 100 percent exemption, so they voted to give him a 75 percent exception.

The exemptions only apply to town, county, school and fire district taxes, and not to other special taxing districts like water and sewer.

Mr. Butler purchased the Woolworth building in February for $2.2 million and has undertaken a project to build 19 affordable apartments on the second floor, a 20,000-square foot gym on the first floor and small stores fronting Main Street on the eastern portion of the building.

“Based on what our intent was, which was to benchmark the start of the building and it’s progress… 75 percent probably makes sense,” said IDA chairman Tom Cruso, who had toured the building, in casting his vote Monday.

“I was impressed,” IDA member Paul Thompson said. “I think they kept their word. They stated what they wanted to do and I think they accomplished it.”

The IDA approved the 75 percent exemption by a 4-0 vote, with IDA member Carl Gabrielsen absent.

Mr. Butler said he expects most of the downstairs part of the project to be done by the end of January.

“The gym wants to move in as fast as possible,” he said, referring to Ultimate Fitness, which left its Route 58 location in the former Pergament building earlier this year and has been using the former Blockbuster Video store on Route 58 on a temporary basis until the Woolworth site is ready. It will now be a Maximus Health and Fitness gym, run by the same people, Mr. Butler said.

Goldberg’s Famous Bagels is expected to move into one of the storefronts early next year, and there is still about 3,000 square feet that is yet to be leased.

Of the 19 apartments slated for the second floor of the building, Mr. Butler said 11 will be for people whose incomes are 50 to 60 percent of the Long Island median income, while the other eight will be for people whose income is 80 percent of the median income. He is working with the Long Island Housing Partnership to market the apartments.

The IDA on Tuesday also approved a $4.35 million figure for financing for the project, which is different that the $5.7 million financing estimate used when the IDA hearing on the project took place in February. This number is used in determining the amount of mortgage recording tax that the project will be exempt from, which in this case, is $45,675.

In addition to the partial property tax exemption, the IDA also grants exemptions on mortgage recording tax and sales taxes on building materials used in the construction.

Earlier this year, the county also announced that 11 of the affordable units would be funded with Federal HOME Investment Partnership program funds in the amount of $550,000, and that project will receive $75,000 through the NY Main Street Program for revitalization.

12/02/13 4:50pm
12/02/2013 4:50 PM
Downtown Riverhead, East Main Street, Riverhead IDA

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | The former Woolworth building on East Main Street has been largely empty since the old five-and-dime chain closed in 1997.

The revitalization of the former Woolworth building in downtown Riverhead will be receiving several grants to assist in the conversion of the building into a gym, stores and affordable apartments, officials said Monday.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, state Sen. Ken LaValle, North Fork county legislator Al Krupski and Riverhead Town officials are scheduled to announce the grant at a 12:30 p.m. press conference Tuesday at the site.

“The county will provide infrastructure funding to redevelop the building,” a statement from Mr. Bellone stated Monday. The redevelopment of the building, which has been vacant since 1997, “is expected to create about 125 construction jobs and 100 retail employment opportunities.”

A group called Woolworth Revitalization LLC, headed by Michael Butler of Sag Harbor, purchased the building earlier this year and received town approvals to build a gym on the ground floor, with smaller storefronts on Main Street and 19-apartments on the upper floor of the building.

It was unclear what grants were to be announced on Tuesday.

In September, the county announced that $800,000 would be allocated toward the project, including $250,000 from the county to offset certain land and infrastructure costs. In addition, the county also said in September that 11 of the affordable units would be funded with Federal HOME Investment Partnership program funds in the amount of $550,000, and that project will receive $75,000 from the Town through the NY Main Street Program for revitalization.

Ultimate on Main, a gym that used to be located on Route 58, and Goldberg’s Famous Bagels, are already on board as tenants in the project, and the Long Island Housing Partnership is working with the developer on the affordable rentals.

04/02/13 1:45pm
04/02/2013 1:45 PM
Downtown Riverhead, East Main Street, Riverhead IDA

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The former Woolworth building on East Main Street has been largely empty since the old five-and-dime chain closed in 1997.

The Riverhead Town Board approved a resolution Tuesday granting a special permit for the proposed renovations of the former Woolworth property on Main Street to allow a gym on the ground floor.

The board will also approved a grant a clearing permit for the new Costco shopping center on the north side of Route 58, across from Riverhead Raceway.

News-Review reporter Tim Gannon reported live from the meeting.

Click below to see what else happened.

April 2, 2013 – Agenda by rnews_review

 

April 2, 2013 – Packet by rnews_review

03/19/13 5:30pm
03/19/2013 5:30 PM

liveblog

The Riverhead Town Board approved a resolution Tuesday night to amend the town’s contract with VHB, a consulting firm that’s been working on the town’s subdivision and planning study at the Enterprise Park at Calverton property.

The amendment allows VHB to represent clients before the town. That is so long as the firm is not involved in projects in EPCAL, and so long as VHB employees keep information they get from their town work confidential.

VHB representatives have said that since the EPCAL study has taken longer than expected, “their inability to provide services to potential clients” in Riverhead Town has caused the firm to “suffer significant loss of business opportunities,” according to the resolution.

VHB officials had said if the amendment was not approved, the firm would cancel its contract with the town.

The Hauppauge firm’s planning work is costing the town about $500,000.

Supervisor Sean Walter said the town couldn’t afford to lose VHB’s services in the EPCAL study at this point.

“We’re one year away from finishing it now,” he said. “If VHB quits, we’d be two years away.”

In addition, the board formally amended its rules and procedures to remove a ban on booing that it approved two weeks ago.

News-Review reporter Tim Gannon reported live from the meeting.

Click below to read a recap, and see the full agenda and resolution packet below that.

 

March 19, 2013 – Agenda by rnews_review

 

 

March 19, 2013 – Packet by rnews_review

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.

 

02/21/13 10:00am
02/21/2013 10:00 AM

liveblog

Riverhead Town Board members plan to approve the site plan for Island Water Park’s proposed water skiing park in Calverton at their next regular meeting on March 5.

The board discussed the plan at its public work session Thursday morning in Town Hall.

Island Water Park bought 50 acres from the town in 2003 at the Enterprise Park at Calverton, a former Grumman fighter pilot test site.

The company originally planned to build two artificial, lined lakes for water skiing with motor boats, but it ran into issues with the state Department of Environmental Conservation after hitting groundwater and now plans to run overhead cables that will tow water skiers, instead of boats.

The skiing would take place directly on the groundwater table.

The proposal, which goes back more than 10 years, has approval from the DEC, the Suffolk County Planning Commission and the state Pine Barrens Commission and only needs town site plan approval.

But, since the plan the Pine Barrens Commission approved doesn’t conform to the town’s parking regulations, Island Water Park will need to go back to the Pine Barrens Commission for a re-approval that conforms with the site plan approval.

The town approval will be conditioned on Island Water Park getting Pine Barrens approval, officials say.

Town Board members also voiced support at Thursday’s work session for a gym in about 20,000 square feet of space in the former Woolworth building in downtown Riverhead. That proposal needs a special permit, and officials say they plan to hold a March 19 hearing on it.

The rest of the Woolworth building will have about 20 apartments on the second floor and about 4,000 square feet of stores on the ground floor, fronting Main Street, according to architect Marty Sendlewski, who was representing the building’s owner, Michael Butler.

Mr. Butler’s company, Woolworth Revitalization LLC, purchased the building from Apollo Real Estate Advisors last week for $2.2 million.

To read more about what happened at the work session, click here.

 

February 21, 2013 – Agenda by rnews_review