Real Estate

12 of 19 Woolworth units filled; move-in set for Sunday

Michael Butler (center) cuts the ribbon Thursday at the E. Main St. apartment complex. (Credit: Tim Gannon)
Michael Butler (center) cuts the ribbon Thursday at the E. Main St. apartment complex. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

The second of three new affordable apartment complexes in downtown Riverhead officially held its grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday, as leases are in place for all but seven of its 19 apartments, with tenants expected to move in on Sunday, according to Michael Butler, the owner and developer of the project.

The Woolworth Apartments were built on the second floor of the former Woolworth building in downtown Riverhead, which had been vacant since the company went out of business in 1997.

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Mr. Butler restored the building by putting a gym on the ground floor, three small storefronts next to that and 19 affordable apartments on the upper floor. A lottery for the units opened up last fall.R1009_Woolworth2_BE_C.jpg

“When I first came here, the first person I met with was (town Community Development director) Chris Kempner, who took me around and showed me Riverhead, and I had a good feeling about it,” Mr. Butler said Thursday.

“Since that time, we’ve seen the Suffolk Theater finish up, and the bike shop across the street move in, and it seems like every month, something else comes. Little by little, we’re getting there.”

“On behalf of the Town of Riverhead, we want to thank you for taking a chance on us,” Supervisor Sean Walter said to Mr. Butler. “The proof that this is going to work is the fact that you have about 12 of the 19 apartments basically rented as you cut the ribbon.”

The 52-unit Summerwind Square affordable apartments opened in Nov. 2013, and that complex is nearly full now, and 48 more units of affordable rentals are proposed on West Main Street.

The town’s zoning allows a maximum of 500 apartment units downtown, as officials hope to draw foot traffic to businesses downtown.

The Woolworth apartments feature three types of units, with rents that start at $895 for studios, $1,133 for one bedrooms, and $1,528 for two bedrooms. The rents are based on income levels,  and prospective tenants must pass an income verification process via the Long Island Housing Partnership.

Caption: The retail spaces on the first floor of the Woolworth building. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)