Real Estate

Main Street apartment proposal seeks tax breaks

The developer behind a proposal to construct 45 market-rate apartments at the former downtown site of the West Marine building on East Main St. is asking the Riverhead Industrial Development Agency for financial assistance with the project, known as Landmark at Riverhead.

The estimated total costs for the four-story building will be $10,764,000, according to the IDA.

Developer Wayne Steck is also an owner and developer of the 52-unit Summerwind Square apartments on Peconic Avenue in Riverhead, which is considered “work-force housing.” 

Summerwind’s IDA benefits will expire this year, according to IDA executive director Tracy Stark. 

The Riverhead IDA’s “unified tax exemption policy” standards include property tax abatements, sales tax exemptions on purchases associated with the project and an exemption on mortgage recording tax. The abatements apply only to new developments. 

IDA tax abatements generally last 10 years and begin at 50% for the first year. Thereafter, the abatements are reduced by 5% annually until the land is fully back on the tax rolls. 

“It’s a pleasure to be standing before the IDA to introduce our latest project,” Mr. Steck said Monday. 

His plans for Landmark at Riverhead go back about three years. Project plans show a proposed restaurant and a public market on the main floor, along with a ground floor retail area. 

The upper floors will be apartments. Mr. Steck said he plans to demolish the existing building, which has been mostly vacant for many years.

The development will have 45 market-rate apartments and 9,000 square feet of “unique retail and food experiences that will cater to every taste and preference,” Mr. Steck said. 

Those “experiences,” he added, are “what makes our proposal special … We are carefully curating a selection of vendors and food concepts that will bring a vibrant energy to the downtown area. This will include art exhibits, live music and special events.”

While the list of tenants isn’t complete, he said, Haskell’s Bait and Tackle of East Quogue is interested in locating at the Landmark. 

“In order to draw Haskell’s and other unique vendors, we will need to offer substantial buildout discounts and long-term rent incentives,” Mr. Steck said Monday. 

The area in between the Riverhead Grill and the former West Marine site was previously planned as pedestrian right of way, but the Riverhead Fire Department wanted to keep the road, Mr. Steck said. 

He said the apartments would rent for between $1,600 and $3,500 per month. 

The proposal includes no dedicated parking because it lies within the town Public Parking District. Originally, Mr. Steck wanted to put 11 parking spaces under the building, but because of flood risks and access issues, it didn’t work out, he said. 

IDA member Jim Farley compared the project to Chelsea Market in New York City. 

“Absolutely,” Mr. Steck said. “I got a lot of ideas from there.”

At its meeting Monday, the IDA did not vote on a resolution to schedule a public hearing on the value of the tax abatements requested by the developer. But a hearing will be required in order for Landmark to receive any IDA benefits.