Town Board OKs new biz options at Tanger 

The Riverhead Town Board voted unanimously last Tuesday to approve a zoning amendment that will allow a host of new types of businesses at Tanger Outlets on Route 58, including furniture showrooms, interior design studios, specialty grocery stores, arcades, fitness and yoga studios, Foosball, theaters and a dine-in restaurant.

The mall’s operators had requested that the permitted uses at the outlet center be expanded, and Town Board members voiced support for Tanger last month, noting that it is Riverhead’s biggest tax revenue generator.

The board held a public hearing last month on a number of proposed new uses that could be allowed at Tanger, which is the only property in town that falls under the “manufacturers outlet center overlay” zoning designation. 

The amendment changes the name of that to the “manufacturers outlet and retail sales center, interior design showroom and trade center and specialty grocery, food stores and markets center.” It will also allow indoor activities such as an arcade, virtual reality games and billiards.

The new zoning prohibits flea markets, gas stations, motor vehicle sales, car washes and printing plants. Medical offices are also banned, as are hotel lodging and overnight accommodations, beauty parlors, adult stores and sales of cannabis and electronic cigarettes.

The amendment limits the number of food courts to two, but it gives the tenant the option of replacing one of those with a restaurant. That restaurant, however, would not be permitted to have signage on Route 58, according to deputy town attorney Anne Marie Prudenti. 

An indoor theater was previously permitted at Tanger, although none was ever built. The amendment now allows new theaters that offer dining, comfortable seating and alcoholic beverages, Ms. Prudenti said. 

“This is a national trend that’s going on because retail has taken a big hit with online shopping,” Supervisor Tim Hubbard said at last month’s public hearing on Tanger’s request. 

The outlet center has also become a significant target of retail crime. The proposed amendment had been in the works for to years, according to Ms. Prudenti.

“This is necessary, everybody knows what’s happening in retail,” Councilman Bob Kern said at the public hearing.

The Riverhead Chamber of Commerce also sent a letter in support. 

Several Route 58 stores have recently closed, including Christmas Tree Shops, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Big Lots. But officials said those closures were part of nationwide downsizings, and that Tanger had nothing to do with their going out of business.