The new three-story medical office building by the recently realigned Riverside traffic circle is already two-thirds full, according to Paul Pawlowski, the developer of the project, which is known as 20 Riverleigh Avenue.
With the first two floors fully leased for medical uses, Mr. Pawlowski is now contemplating whether to use the third floor for apartments, which was his original plan, or more medical offices. He is currently seeking permission from Southampton Town for the latter.
The project is the first commercial building to be constructed in Riverside since Southampton Town approved new zoning for the area and adopted a Riverside Redevelopment Action Plan in 2015.
Although Southampton Town officials have said the key to redeveloping Riverside will be extending sewers to the area, Mr. Pawlowski was able to construct his building under the current sewer flow requirements.
For years, the property was home to restaurants, first a Howard Johnson’s and then the Riverboat Diner. But it was vacant for about 15 years until Mr. Pawlowski acquired it. He said doctors’ offices will have a much lower sewer flow than restaurants, which is better for the environment.
“We’re thrilled,” said Vince Taldone, president of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association, which supported Mr. Pawlowski’s project. “I was afraid they’d have trouble leasing the units initially because there’s nobody around it. But he didn’t have any problems. As soon as he had it ready, they moved in.”
Officials from both Southampton and Riverhead towns participated in a groundbreaking ceremony to launch the project in August 2018.
The first tenants, a doctor’s group comprising Sound Gynecologic Oncology, Suffolk Pelvic Medicine and Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, moved in about eight months ago. Another group, including Beyond Boundaries Autism Specialists and Therapeutic Services and Kidz Therapy Service PLLC, took occupancy in January, Mr. Pawlowski said.
Beyond Boundaries said it now has locations in Riverside, Islandia and New Hyde Park.
“From the beginning, Beyond Boundaries’ goal has been to increase access to high quality services, one community at a time,” president and managing partner Laura Marra said in a press release. “With our uniquely qualified staff providing the best treatments, we are thrilled to bring our services to (Riverside) and the East End.”
“It certainly is a gorgeous building,” said Jean Castelli, Beyond Boundaries’ community outreach manager. “We provide a wide variety of therapeutic services with students or children of all ages with disabilities, because there are not many choices out on the East End for kids with disabilities, so we’re really trying to reach the East End community.”
She said the practice works with kids who have all types of developmental and procedural disorders, not just autism.
Ms. Castelli said she’s spoken to parents from places like Sag Harbor and Amagansett who have to take their young children as far as Port Jefferson to get speech therapy.
“This will be a centralized location, which is perfect because it’s right in the middle and we’re able to provide all sorts of therapeutic services, as well as a full-day center-based experience,” she said.
Many people have commented about how close the building is to the road, a requirement of the new zoning.
But Mr. Pawlowski said that the goal is to make Riverside a walking community, like downtown Riverhead.
“When the rest of the area starts to fill up, most of the buildings will be close to the road and it will look similar to downtown Riverhead,” he said.
He added that he was not surprised his building filled up quickly.
“It’s centrally located and it’s a really good location for employees and employers to come and go,” he said. “And it’s … highly visible. We had a lot of interest in the property.”
Asked if he was surprised the local civic association backed the project, Mr. Pawlowski said, “I was not surprised once I met them and saw that they had a genuine energy to improve the area through working with the town and the developer.”