The company that owns the Long Island Aquarium and the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Riverhead is looking to restore a dilapidated 113-year-old building it recently purchased across the street instead of tearing it down.
Petrocelli Construction of Ronkonkoma, headed by the family of aquarium co-founder Joe Petrocelli, purchased the blue shuttered building at 428 E. Main St. last summer and originally planned to raze it.
Councilwoman Jodi Giglio broke the news about the plans at Thursday’s Town Board work session.
“Joe Petrocelli was before the Landmarks Preservation Commission because he bought the building across the street from the aquarium,” she said. “Originally, he had intentions of demolishing it. But after he went through it with his architect, they were so thrilled with the inside. They think they are going to leave it and put in a Jedediah Hawkins-type restaurant and high-rent residential apartments behind it.
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“I think we’re going to be seeing a lot of that on Main Street in getting a lot of these old buildings restored.”
The aquarium’s general manager, Bryan DeLuca, said in a brief interview after the meeting — which he was not at — that a restaurant is just one of the options they are considering for the building.
“We’re looking at a lot of options for that property,” he said, adding that nothing has been decided yet.
The property is a quarter acre in size and its zoning permits uses such as retail stores, restaurants, banks, offices, second-story apartments, and art galleries, among others.
Richard Wines, the chairman of the town’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, said Mr. Petrocelli came before the commission last month seeking input.
The building is located in a town-designated historic district, but not the federal-designated historic district that covers other parts of downtown, Mr. Wines said.
“Our goal is to always encourage preservation of historic buildings that are structurally sound,” he said. Mr. Wines said the building was built around 1902 by Henry H. Preston, a Civil War veteran and the County Clerk at the time.
Mr. Wines said Mr. Petrocelli had discussed building a high-end restaurant with second-story apartment.
“We’d be delighted if that was going to happen,” Mr. Wines said about the plan.
Atlantis is also considering building townhouses on the parking lot it owns further north on Ostrander Avenue, Mr. DeLuca said.
The Ostrander Ave. property was the original home of Riverhead Building Supply and was later given to the Riverhead Fire Department, which in turn sold it to Atlantis. It’s now used as additional parking for the aquarium.
“We’re definitely interested in townhouses,” DeLuca said about the future use of the property, adding he believes the loss of the parking lot wouldn’t cause parking issues since there are other lots available for his company’s businesses.
It was not clear how many townhouses would be permitted on the property.