Hyatt Place plans win town approval

Atlantis Marine World has been planning to build a hotel on Main Street for about 10 years. A Hyatt Place is now under construction.

Atlantis Marine World’s proposed downtown hotel — nearly eight years in the making — received final site plan approval from the Riverhead Town Board Wednesday.

The approval is good for a 100-room hotel with a swimming pool, restaurant and catering facilities, as well as a public assembly area and retail space.

Atlantis hopes to have its Hyatt Place Hotel, along with new exhibit space for the adjacent aquarium, open by next June.

The East Main Street facility will house a banquet hall capable of seating 400 people. The new exhibit space will be about 10,000 square feet and will feature nationally popular exhibits that will change every one or two years, according Jim Bissett of Atlantis. Exhibits on dinosaurs, butterflies, the Titanic and human bodies are being planned, he said.

Atlantis first proposed the expansion in 2002, just two years after the aquarium opened. Part of the delay in getting the approval resulted from the requirement that the land be added to the town parking district.

The project also had to wait for the completion of a comprehensive environmental impact study of the East Main Street Urban Renewal Area. That study was initiated in connection with Apollo Real Estate Advisor’s plans to develop the Woolworth building and other downtown parcels, but other developers were allowed to use it in place of doing their own studies.

The company already has a foundation permit and over the past few weeks has hammered about 550 pilings into the ground to stabilize the land, which runs along the Peconic River.

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