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Town to officially close on purchase of three downtown buildings for Town Square plan

Riverhead Town will officially close on the purchase of three East Main Street properties Tuesday to begin transforming the area into a Town Square, officials said Monday.

“This is the next significant step to creating our new Town Square,” Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said in a statement. “I am excited to continue the progress that the Town Board has made in the last year, despite the pandemic, by signing the documents necessary to close.”

The closing is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday at Town Hall.

The town will acquire three buildings, two of which are vacant, and one which has active stores in it. The plan is to demolish the two vacant stores and create an open vista from East Main Street to the Peconic River.

“Riverhead Town Square will positively transform our downtown into a thriving regional destination that offers an attractive venue for people to live, work and play here in Riverhead,” Ms. Aguiar said. “The primary goal of creating Riverhead Town Square is to reorient the pedestrian focus from the traditional Main Street to the Peconic Riverwalk.”

The three properties were owned by Riverhead Enterprises, which owns many buildings in downtown Riverhead. 

“Riverhead Enterprises is pleased to close on the sale of three East Main St. properties to the Town of Riverhead,” Riverhead Enterprises President Sheldon Gordon said in a statement. “We are very excited to see how the Town Square develops and very happy to be part of the process.”

In addition to the three Riverhead Enterprise properties, the former Swezey’s building on East Main Street was recently acquired by the Long Island Science Center, which plans to expand its programming there, and the former West Marine building has been acquired by builder Wayne Steck, who plans to demolish it and build a mixed-use apartment complex. 

The town has allocated $1.8 million in grant money toward the project, and it plans to sell or lease some town-owned land to cover some of the rest of the projected $5.5 million cost.

Ms. Aguiar said the town plans to demolish the buildings that formerly housed Twin Fork Bicycles and the former Swezey’s furniture store. The third building, which houses the restaurant Craft’d and other businesses,“may remain in place, although it will be extensively renovated, if it is not replaced,” the supervisor said.

“I want to thank Riverhead Enterprises for being a cooperative seller of these three parcels,” Ms. Augiar said. “I also want to express my appreciation to the entire Town Board for working cooperatively, as a team, to work so diligently in a bipartisan manner to get this deal to the finish line and serve our mutual constituents in the best manner possible.”

The preliminary design was unveiled two weeks ago, following extensive public participation that included meetings with key stakeholders and three virtual public meetings.

The public can view the plans and continue to provide feedback as the project progresses at: https://www.engagetheteam.com/riverheadtownsquare 

The website features interactive maps and allows participants to leave feedback, attach photos of suggestions or ideas and take part in a digital community survey. It was developed by the Town of Riverhead’s consultant Urban Design Associates.