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Riverhead Town Board approves four-story apartment building downtown

The Riverhead Town Board last Tuesday granted special permit and preliminary site plan approval for 331 East Main St., a proposed four-story, 36-unit market rate apartment building at the downtown site of the former Subway restaurant.

The applicant must meet several conditions in order to obtain final site plan approval to move forward.

One condition is that the applicant — G2D Development of Huntington — must submit revised plans showing 812 square feet of retail space on the ground floor of the building. 

Doing so creates more of a public use for the building, Councilwoman Catherine Kent said.

The project currently includes 36 parking spaces for tenants, two of which would be lost if the 812 square feet of retail were added to the northwest corner of the first floor, officials said.

Another condition of the preliminary approval concerns the Richard A. Norton House, which currently occupies the site. It requires that “if a suitable location is found within the Town of Riverhead … the applicant shall agree to provide a maximum of $70,000 to assist in funding the efforts to relocate the structure.”

Chris Kent, the attorney for G2D and the former husband of Catherine Kent, said his client has agreed to these conditions.

With regard to moving the house, Supervisor Yvette Aguiar and Councilman Tim Hubbard said they don’t want to hold up the project.

“We need to move forward,” Ms. Aguiar said, noting that it has already been on the board’s agenda several times. She said only a small portion of the building has historic value.

The town’s Landmarks Preservation Commission suggested preserving the Norton House and possibly moving it to town property in between Tuthill-Mangano Funeral Home and the 1855 Howell House, which are both historic buildings.

They said this would create a scenario in which the eastern entrance to downtown would have four historic buildings in a row: the Preston House, the Howell House, the Norton house and the funeral home.

The Howell and Preston houses were recently restored by builder Joe Petrocelli, who has restored several historic homes in Riverhead and is co-founder of the Long Island Aquarium on East Main Street.

The 1855 Norton house is one of the three oldest buildings downtown, according to LPC chairman Richard Wines.

The estimated cost of moving the building across the street would be about $96,658, according to the LPC, which also estimated that demolishing it would cost $175,000.

Mr. Hubbard had estimated the cost of relocating the building at about $500,000.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said she would support relocating the building if a location could be found.