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Apartment complex planned at former Sears site

Another large apartment complex on East Main Street is now headed for the review process, as Riverhead Town has scheduled two “scoping” sessions on its environmental impact for next month. 

Listed officially listed as 203-213 East Main Street, the project location is better known locally as the former Sears site. 

The applicant, Metro Group Properties, is proposing a five-story, 170-unit mixed use structure on land immediately west of the 116-unit Riverview Lofts development, another five-story mixed use structure that’s currently under construction. 

However, unlike Riverview Lofts, which is being built by Georgica Green Ventures as affordable or “workforce” rentals, the Metro Group has said it hasn’t determined whether to set aside some or all of the 170 proposed units as affordable or “workforce” housing. 

Officials are hoping to avoid a repeat of what happened with Riverview Lofts.

That development raised concerns about pile driving work done to stabilize the ground, which is required since the development is being built in a flood zone.

The owners of three historic, 100-year-old buildings across the street from Riverview Lofts, including the Riverhead United Methodist Church, claimed the pile driving was causing damage to their buildings, a contention the Georgica Green Ventures disputed. 

It’s not certain if Metro Group will use the same type of pile driving on its project. 

The town’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has already sent the town some recommendations on that issue. 

“Specifically identify the type of pile driving that will be used and the number and depth of piles to be driven, along with any measures that will be take to minimize damage to nearby historic structures,” wrote commisision chairman Richard Wines.

The scoping sessions will take place during Town Board meetings scheduled for Oct. 2 at 2 p.m. and Oct. 16 at 6 p.m.

A scoping session is not a hearing to determine if people like or dislike a project, but rather allows the public to suggest issues they feel should be studied as part of an environmental impact study related to the project.

The town has already determined that such a study will be required for this project and the applicant has submitted a draft scoping document to the town. The town has until Nov. 3 to respond to the issues raised in that document, officials said. 

Jeff Seeman, an environmental analyst in the town Planning Department, said the department has received some suggestions about the cumulative impact of this project being built so close to Riverview Lofts, as well parking issues and issues regarding staging sites for the construction, especially while construction on Riverview Lofts is still in progress. 

The proposal calls for a mostly underground parking area with 88 spaces. It is located within the town’s public parking district and is not required to have its own parking.

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Photo caption: The site of the former Sears. (Tim Gannon photo)