New restaurant, 100-room hotel pitched for Peconic Paddler site

The new owners of the Peconic Paddler property on Peconic Avenue are hoping to build a four-and-one-half story hotel with a restaurant and bar on the top floor, along with 100 hotel rooms and 43 parking spaces below the building.

It’s being called the Grangebel Hotel.

They also plan to create a rain garden, walking trails and park area toward the back of the nearly six-acre property that will link with the existing parkland there. They have also purchased a .75-acre property next to the State Police in Riverside for additional parking.

Also, they plan to keep the canoe and kayak renting business, which they will operate in the summer this year.

But first, they need sewage treatment in order to do all that.

The group, led by Tom Fredette of East Moriches — a builder and New York City firefighter — purchased the land from longtime owner Jim Dreeben in 2017. While the land is within Southampton Town, they’ve asked the Riverhead Town Board to allow them to temporarily hook into the Riverhead Sewer District, which is actually just a few feet from their property line, until Southampton Town can create its own sewer district for Riverside.

Southampton Town officials, who authorized the purchase of 1.5 acres of property in Riverside to locate a new sewage treatment plant for Riverside on Tuesday, say they think they can have that plant up and running by June 2020.

“I’ll eat my hat if you get that running by 2020,” Riverhead Councilman Jim Wooten said at Thursday’s Riverhead Town Board work session, which was attended by Southampton officials and Mr. Fredette’s group.

Mr. Fredette estimates the temporary connections would be needed for about five years.

John Scott Prudenti, the attorney for the applicant, said he believes the project will help bring people to downtown Riverhead.

“This is something that will be bringing people into the area, and walking on Main Street,” he said.

Mr. Wooten and Councilman Tim Hubbard said they support entertaining the sewer hookup proposal.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said she wanted to speak with town sewer district superintendent Michael Reichel “one on one” first and find out how much sewer capacity is needed.

She said Riverhead is limited on capacity and still has a lot of building to do in downtown Riverhead.

She added that Riverhead has had problems in the past with out-of-district connections to its sewer plant. Mr. Wooten said those problems were with other municipalities, such as Suffolk County, and not with private developers.

Councilwoman Catherine Kent expressed concern about the height of the proposed hotel and suggested it be reduced by one floor. But she said there “are a lot of great things” about the project.

Mr. Prudenti said the views from the proposed hotel captures “parallel views” from the east and the west.

“From those heights, the views are incredible,” he said.

Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith also raised concerns about the size, particularly if another four-story building is constructed on the east side of Peconic Avenue.

“I just don’t want to have a tunnel,” she said.

Kyle Collins, Southampton’s planning and building administrator, said that property doesn’t have enough land to build a four-story building.

Ms. Giglio said if Southampton can get its new sewer plant built by 2020, it might make more sense for Mr. Fredette’s group to wait for that.

Mr. Fredette said “we’re ready to go,” as soon as sewer connection is available. He estimates it will take about 16 months to complete the project.

A hotel is a permitted use in this location under the new zoning the town adopted for Riverside, according to Sean McLean of Renaissance Downtowns, the company chosen by Southampton Town as its “master developer” for Riverside.

Riverhead Town officials made no decision on the proposal, saying they want to get more information on the amount of sewer flow needed and on how much the town would charge for the temporary hookup.

Photo caption: The site of the proposed hotel and restaurant. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

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