Clearing begins for new shopping center on Route 58

Another shopping center is headed for Route 58 — and more could be coming in the future. 

Clearing has begun for the Garsten Retail Center on Route 58, between Riverhead Centre and the Riverhead Highway Department property. 

The project calls for construction of a 60,048-square-foot shopping center on 12 acres just east of the Riverhead Centre complex on the north side of Route 58. 

It will comprise five retail buildings ranging in size from 10,008 square feet to 14,976 square feet and a parking lot with about 240 spaces toward the south part of the property, nearer to Route 58, according to the approved plans. 

Access to the site will be from both Route 58 and Osborn Avenue.

The land is owned by the family of the late Irwin Garsten, who also owned the Apple Honda dealership just east on Route 58. Mr. Garsten died Feb. 7, 2017 at the age of 86, before the Riverhead Planning Board’s Aug. 17, 2017, meeting approved the site plan for the retail center. 

The Riverhead Town Board approved an exportation/importation permit for the project early in March, allowing the removal of up to 8,156 cubic yards of soil from the property.

In accordance with town law, the town will collect a permit fee of $16,412, representing a charge of two dollars per cubic foot of material taken from or brought into construction sites.

Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith wrote a letter to the News-Review and other media this week regarding the clearing.

“I know that many Riverhead residents are upset about the recent clearing of additional acres of wooded land on Route 58,” she wrote. “I believe that we all agree that we need and want to preserve our natural landscapes as much as we can. No one wants Riverhead to lose its rural character or to become another crowded Long Island suburb.

“It is disheartening to see more woodland eliminated in order to make way for another shopping center, but property owners cannot be prohibited from building on their own land.”

Ms. Jens-Smith said the town expects to update its master plan, and urged residents to get involved. 

Sonic proposal still in play

East of the Garsten site, a proposal for a Sonic Drive-In restaurant is still active, according to Jeff Murphree, Riverhead’s building and planning administrator.

The Sonic application hasn’t appeared on a Planning Board agenda in some time, but Mr. Murphree said “it’s still in the pipeline. The big holdup for them is that they have to get the sewer hookup across Route 58.” 

The Sonic is planned for 1.8 acres across from Apple Honda and immediately west of the BP gas station at the northwest corner of Route 58 and Osborn Avenue. The application calls for a 2,579-square-foot drive-in restaurant and a second retail building of 5,250 square feet, which would be built in a second phase of construction.

BJ’s gas station

Another project that began this past week is TSA Capital’s proposal to replace the abandoned gas station at the southeast corner of Ostrander Avenue and Route 58. The new station will have eight fueling stations, a 2,628-square-foot canopy and a 165-square-foot kiosk for the attendant. 

The station will be affiliated with BJ’s Wholesale Club, and BJ’s members will pay a cheaper price for gas there. 

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