Featured Story

Town Board unanimously approves J. Petrocelli Development as master developer for Town Square project

The Riverhead Town Board unanimously adopted a resolution Tuesday evening to designate J. Petrocelli Development Associates as master developer for the Town Square project. The approval follows the public unveiling of a preliminary design of the Town Square Thursday, a redevelopment that would feature a boutique hotel, condo building, museum and recreation in the public square.

Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said Joe Petrocelli has “proven himself” in his multiple investment projects in Riverhead Town.

“You believed in us, you invested here when no one wanted to invest,” Ms. Aguiar said. “We don’t want someone from New Jersey or Pennsylvania telling us what do here in the East End. I proudly join my colleagues and I vote yes.”

Councilman Tim Hubbard said it’s a “tremendous project” and also thanked Mr. Petrocelli for investing in Riverhead.

“It has been so many years in the talks,” he said of the project. “Well guess what, the talk is starting to do the walk.”

Shovels won’t be in the ground just yet.

The approval for master developer starts the next phase of the public-private partnership, similar to what will be happening on the Railroad Avenue transit-oriented development. Dawn Thomas, the town’s Community Development Agency administrator, said in an interview that the details of making the partnership work is “the next hurdle.”

“We’ll be hammering through all that as a community with the stakeholder, who’s a community member also,” she said. “I’m looking forward to it. Then once that agreement is sort of hammered out, then they would do their application for development.”

While two Main Street buildings that the town acquired were demolished earlier this year to pave the way for the Town Square, the third building purchased that currently houses the restaurant Craft’D would also ultimately need to be demolished to clear space for the full development proposed.

“The objective is to let the developer build it out and give the public as much public benefit as possible with as little cost as possible,” Ms. Thomas said. “We’re leveraging our investment to get things that the public wants.”

She said that process will continue now that J. Petrocelli has been selected as master developer.

Petrocelli Contracting was awarded the bid for the demolition of the two Main Street buildings. At the time of the demolition, Petrocelli Development expressed interested to develop the space, according to the resolution approved. Petrocelli Development then met with the Community Development Agency and Town Board to outline a development and a more formal plan was presented in February.

Ms. Thomas said last week that there was no request for proposals because it was an unsolicited proposal from the Petrocelli team and not at the request of the town.

The portion of the project that includes public space will be where the most public input is sought going forward, Ms. Thomas said.

“There are some things that are fixed a little more than others,” she said, noting the proposed hotel, for example, would have to be a certain size to be profitable.

Prior to the Town Board’s vote, three speakers addressed the resolution. John McAuliff of Calverton said the rendering that shows a large “Riverhead” sign at the entrance to the square breaks from the idea of creating an open space between the Main Street and riverfront.

Diana Ruvolo of Calverton said thinks the proposal is a “wonderful idea for Riverhead.”

“Mr. Petrocelli has done so much for Riverhead as it is and now with this for the Town Square, it’s just going to be icing on the cake,” she said.