Suffolk Theater owner in line to purchase East Lawn building

The East Lawn building on  East Main Street. (file photo)
The East Lawn building on East Main Street pictured in 2013. (file photo)

Although he wasn’t the highest bidder, Suffolk Theater owner Bob Castaldi appears to be the Riverhead Town Board’s choice to purchase and restore the dilapidated East Lawn building on East Main Street.

The Town Board is planning to authorize a contract with Mr. Castaldi at its 7 p.m. meeting Wednesday.

Ms. Castaldi offered $125,000 for the building. A marketing group called “I’m a Ruralpolitan Inc,” headed by Isabelle Gonzalez — a member of the downtown Business Improvement District Management Association — and her sister, Mary, originally offered $250,000 for the building. They later dropped their offer to $130,000 and said they would do $200,000 worth of restorations.

Mr. Castaldi also purchased the Second Street firehouse from the town earlier this year. He said he plans to offer space in the firehouse to the town’s historian, whose office is in the East Lawn building, for one year rent free.

The Chamber of Commerce, the Riverhead Housing Development Corporation and Riverhead Community Awareness Program also occupy the East Lawn building rent free and will have to move by June 30, although Supervisor Sean Walter said CAP plans to move to the former Internal Revenue Service office on East Main Street.

Builders representing both bidders addressed the Town Board at a recent work session.

“There was no question in my mind that the job being done is much more intense on Castaldi’s part,” said Councilman George Gabrielsen, who ran a construction company for many years that is now owned by his son.

He said, for example, Mr. Castaldi, who owns a building restoration company, planned to re-side the building whereas the Gonzalezes only planned to repaint it.

The Gonzalez sisters planned to allow the town historian and the Chamber of Commerce to stay in the building rent free for a year.

Mr. Castaldi is planning for offices in the building. The Gonzalez sisters planned to make it their headquarters for their marketing group, as well as a residence for one of the sisters.

A third bid was submitted after the Dec. 9 deadline. It came from perennial candidate Greg Fischer, and was a handwritten, one-page offer to buy the building for $140,00 with no additional details.

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