Although a proposal to rezone the Second Street firehouse building was approved unanimously, board members debated whether they should proceed with selling the building to Suffolk Theater owner Bob Castaldi, or whether they should issue a new request for proposals now that they’ve rezoned the property.
Mr. Castaldi was one of only two people who bid to buy the building earlier in the year, initially offering $375,000. But the town, after briefly rethinking plans to sell the building, later upped the sale price to $500,000 and offered it to Mr. Castaldi, who in turn asked that it be rezoned to a more profitable zoning category.
On Tuesday, the board rezoned just the firehouse property and none of the surrounding properties on East Second Street.
The town originally obtained the firehouse in 2011 in a land swap with the fire district, in return for land next to the Route 58 armory the fire department uses for training.
Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said she feels new bids for the building should be sought and argued that it’s more valuable now that it has been rezoned.
Jim Moore, the owner of John Wesley Village on Middle Road, also urged the town to issue a new request for proposals for the building.
“Other parties would have been interested in this property had we known there was going to be a zone change,” Mr. Moore said.
Supervisor Sean Walter said the town wants to show “good faith” to Mr. Castaldi, since it had “pulled the rug out from under him” once before when it sold him the Suffolk Theater and then hindered his efforts to restore it.
He said Mr. Castaldi has done a great job restoring the theater, which re-opened its doors in the spring of 2013 for the first time since 1987.
Mr. Castaldi said he would like to see a brewery operating at the firehouse, should the deal work out.