ZBA grants variance for European Wax Center to open on Route 58

The Riverhead Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously granted a variance to Brixmor Development LLC to allow a hair removal salon to open at The Shops at Riverhead on Route 58.

The ZBA met in person Thursday to discuss several pending applications and approved the variance after a brief public hearing.

The Riverhead Building Department denied the application in February because the proposed hair removal salon isn’t a permitted use in the Destination Retail Center.

In a letter to Christopher Kent, an attorney for the applicant, Building & Planning Administrator Jefferson Murphree cited a portion of the zoning code that states “no individual retail store [in the DRC zone] shall have a floor area of less than 10,000 square feet…with a minimum size per retail store of 3,500 square feet.”

The applicant, Brixmor Riverhead Development LLC, is proposing a 1,500-square-foot European Wax Center to open in an existing 5,000-square-foot building at the site.

In 2019, the ZBA granted a variance for a 3,500-square-foot Aspen Dental office in building E-2, adjacent to where a T-Mobile and Sleep Number stores are currently being developed.

According to the application, the building’s total floor area is 5,000 square feet and the applicant is seeking the use variance to provide a tenant for the remaining 1,500-square-foot portion of the building.

“Unless the board grants the requested use variance, the potential to secure a viable tenant for the remaining portion of building E-2 will be severely impeded and delayed indefinitely, and the timing for the applicant to realize a reasonable return on its investment will be uncertain,” the application states.

European Wax Center, first launched in Florida in 2004, has grown to include over 800 waxing salons in the United States, according to their website.

The salons offer waxing services for both men and women, in addition to beauty products.

Philip Butler, an attorney from Hauppauge-based Farrell Fritz, which represents Brixmor, noted the salon will include a retail component by selling skincare and beauty products in the storefront.

He said there’s been a “long series of efforts” to market the property to zoning-compliant clients.

“None of those panned out, unfortunately,” Mr. Butler said, citing the decline of brick and mortar retail in the age of Internet retail.

Reuben Twersky, project director for redevelopment at Brixmor, said the client remains interested, amid the coronavirus pandemic. “We’re excited that we still have the interest here,” he said.

Mr. Butler said it may only become more difficult to identify new retail tenants, calling for a more ‘diversified’ list of allowable uses. “I think [it’s] necessary in this instance to make sure the new center is fully tenanted and viable.”

The ZBA is set to meet again on June 11.