More downtown apartments in Riverhead on the horizon as approvals slated for Suffolk Theater, Zenith building

Two more multi-unit apartment complexes for Downtown Riverhead are close to preliminary approvals. 

The Riverhead Town Board on Wednesday discussed resolutions granting preliminary approval to both the Suffolk Theater’s proposal to add 28 apartments and other improvements, along with the construction of the Zenith building, which is a four-story, 49-foot tall mixed use apartment complex planned for McDermott Avenue. 

Both will be on the agenda for the Feb. 7 Town Board meeting, and both are expected to receive preliminary approvals.

• The Suffolk Theater application seeks approval for a 59-foot tall addition to the rear of the theater, in order to build expanded facilities to support larger performers, according to the application.

The theater recently received a $2 million grant for its expansion, through the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative.  

The plan before the town calls for “an expanded stage and backstage area, dressing rooms, green rooms, restrooms, a kitchenette, construction of approximately 2,970 sq. ft. of commercial space.”

Also proposed are 28 market-rate apartments on upper floors, including 20 studio units and 8 one-bedroom units, according to the application. 

The plan also called improvements to parking, lighting, and landscaping. 

Suffolk Theater co-owner Bob Castaldi has said the plan is to support the theater by generating revenue through the apartments. 

The project is planned for completion in phases, with the apartments completed last, to minimize interference with theater operations, according to town planner Greg Bergman. 

There is a pipe in the parking lot that’s about 100 long, and needs to be replaced, at Suffolk Theater’s expense, Mr. Bergman said. 

Board member Ken Rothwell suggested that rooms be set aside for artists if the addition attracts bigger acts. 

“Thank you for what you are doing in the town,” said Councilman Bob Kern. “I look forward to this expansion.”

• The Zenith Building also is expected to get preliminary approval Tuesday.

The Zenith Organization, headed by Ray Castronova, is proposing a four-story, 49-ft. tall mixed-use building with nine floors. The apartments would be on floors four to nine. The proposal calls for commercial space on the bottom floors, totaling 2,183 square feet. A management office is planned for the second floor and laundry facilities on the third floor. 

The total height, which includes stair bulkheads, elevator shafts and architectural elements is approximately 53 feet,  according to the application. 

The project is located on 0.12 of an acre. The town is requiring the applicant to pay to replace an aging fire hydrant on McDermott Avenue.

The proposal appears to have the backing of the board.

“I can’t wait to see it built,” Mr. Kern said. 

•The town’s 2003 zoning code called for a 500-unit cap on multi-story, mixed use apartment projects in town. The ban applies to units with a certificate of occupancy. 

The town is nearing that cap. 

To date, there have been 268 units downtown with certificates of occupancy. These include Summerwind (52 units), Woolworth (19 units), Peconic Crossing (45 units), Riverhead Lifts (116 units) and 311 East Main Street (36 units). 

There are still nearly 250 units down town that have active applications but have been to receive certificate of occupancy.