The Second Street firehouse finally appears to have a willing buyer — and a willing seller.
After a previous attempt by Supervisor Sean Walter to sell the house failed earlier this year, the Riverhead Town Board voted 4-1 Tuesday to authorize the sale of the building to Suffolk Theater owner Bob Castaldi for $500,000.
Mr. Castaldi, who could not be reached for comment following Tuesday’s meeting, has expressed interest in the town’s proposal to put an indoor farmers market and a Suffolk County Regional Agritourism Visitors Center at the site — a use for which the town is seeking grant money.
Earlier this year, Mr. Castaldi was one of two people who responded to the town’s requests for proposals to buy or lease the firehouse. He proposed to buy it for $375,000 and lease it to a Japanese company as an interactive dinosaur theater, though that deal ultimately fell apart over cost concerns by a majority of the Town Board.
Councilwoman Jodi Giglio cast the lone no vote on Tuesday, arguing that the concessions the board is now agreeing to with the sale — such as changing the zoning and adding more property — should require a new appraisal of the property and a new request for proposals.
“We’re adding property to the (sale) and also changing the zoning from DC-4, which is minimal uses, to DC-1, which is vast uses, and which I feel increases the value of the property significantly,” Ms. Giglio said.
The property, including the parking lot — which is not included in this sale — was appraised at $1.8 million in 2009, she said.
Ms. Giglio and Councilmen John Dunleavy and George Gabrielsen opposed the sale of the property earlier this year, and Ms. Giglio wanted the town to determine the cost of moving Town Hall to the firehouse. However, when the cost estimate for studying that option came in at $85,000, she later agreed to sell the firehouse.
The board upped the sale price of the building to $500,000, but agreed to consider a zone change from Downtown Center- 1 (DC-1), which allows uses such as retail stores, banks, museums, theaters, and apartments. The zone caps the number of apartment units downtown at 500, however.
The current DC-4 zoning allows uses such as offices, funeral homes, and townhouses.
“I think the master plan would even support the DC-1 zone being in that location,” Mr. Walter said. He described Mr. Castaldi, who has indicated an interest in restoring the building, as a “stellar developer.”
The board — which had planned to sell only the building and not the parking lot, which is now part of the town’s public parking district — agreed to include some of the parking lot near the perimeter of the building and a shed on the property in the deal with Mr. Castaldi.
Councilman George Gabrielsen, who had opposed the previous sale to Mr. Castaldi, agreed to the new firehouse sale, saying that the town has increased the selling price and is now planning to use $125,000 of the $500,000 for recreation purposes.