Monday Briefing: More stores are coming to downtown Riverhead; it’s a sure thing

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Knu Style N Temple beauty and barber shop opened last week in the same building where Supervisor Sean Walter said he would like to see a movie theater.

Whether or not the town supervisor’s dream of attracting a cinema downtown comes true or not, one thing is certain: more stores are coming to downtown Riverhead. And that means more foot traffic to sustain the other stores and restaurants already there. broke the news Thursday — and updated our story with more details Friday — that Apollo Real Estate Advisors is renting space in Apollo’s former Woolworth building on East Main Street. And Apollo is offering long-term leases.

The owner of a barbershop that opened there Tuesday told us he’s inked a 10-year lease with Apollo, and that he’s heard another store is opening too.

The possible bad news — depending on your perspective — is this is the same property at which Supervisor Sean Walter has said a Regal multiplex would likely be built. Apollo looking to rent can’t bode well for whatever deal is in the works. But whether it’s a cinema or more stores downtown, this is positive news for Riverhead.

• Add to that, the business group behind a workforce apartments and retail project downtown started demolishing two blighted buildings on Peconic Avenue in recent weeks to make way for its four-story apartment and retail project called Summerwind Square. Construction should be done in about 10 months.

The buildings plans call for 52 apartments and 8,000-square-feet of retail space, some of which will be facing the Peconic River.

It’s been said for years that the river that runs through downtown is wasted, because visitors to Main Street often don’t even know it’s there. These Summerwind stores will be taking advantage of the river views. And for a potential restaurant, that may mean an overflow of business from boat traffic come summertime  — when that wind comes blowing in.

• I’ve seen a lot of comments on our Facebook page about the Summerwind Project from people insisting it will just be bring more empty stores to an already beleaguered downtown. That’s not very likely. The swath of empty stores in the area of the Suffolk Theatre are empty because the property owners are asking for rents that just aren’t realistic in today’s or any economy. That and they’ve shown little willingness to improve the buildings.

This is why so many people suspect the owners of these blighted buildings want to keep them empty for tax purposes.

What other explanation is there?

Apollo, on the other hand, is apparently motivated to rent space downtown, and it’s doing it. The retail space in Summerwind Square will be brand-new and I’m sure the rents will be competitive to attract prospective tenants.

I would be shocked if any Summerwind storefronts are empty come ribbon-cutting time.

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