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Jun 10, 2015 10:33 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Bridgehampton Residents Want To Explore Ways To Preserve Wick's Tavern Corner

An aerial view of the Wick's Tavern corner, at the intersection of Montauk Highway, Ocean Road, Lumber Lane and the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike.
Jun 10, 2015 10:33 AM

A corner of Bridgehampton’s busiest intersection once served in the 1700s as the site of Wick’s Tavern, which housed the hamlet’s first post office, and was where local freemen who opposed the British Parliament are believed to have met during the Revolutionary War era. It has been recognized by the state as a historic place.

Today, the corner is the future location of a two-story, 9,030-square-foot building previously eyed by CVS Pharmacy, though they have since decided against occupying it. Many residents believe it is a spot where retail development should not take place, as parking and traffic are already problematic on that part of Bridgehampton Main Street, a stretch of busy Montauk Highway.

Over the past year, members of community groups in the hamlet have considered different ways to preserve that corner, which sits across from Topping Rose House, Almond Restaurant and the historic Nathaniel Rogers House. It was a concept they hoped would thwart CVS after the company announced in April 2014 that it had signed a lease for the building.

CVS confirmed late last month, however, that it has terminated its agreement with BNB Ventures IV, the owner of the property at 2510 Montauk Highway. The pharmacy giant is instead in negotiations with Konner Development to open a store in the Bridgehampton Gateway, a mixed-use planned development district proposed across from Bridgehampton Commons on the other side of the hamlet.

Construction on the building, which has the necessary town approvals, is already under way. But with CVS out of the picture, residents said they hope to again explore options for the corner, ranging from additional public parking, an annex for the Hampton Library, or a simple green space.

Leonard Davenport, a member of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee and the Village Improvement Society, said community members could possibly raise the money to purchase the property themselves, although that would require large contributions.

He said residents also have considered asking the town to put the property on its Community Preservation Fund list, but since construction has begun, that would mean amending the CPF rules so the property qualifies, since it is no longer open space. Regardless, he said, a retailer should not be located there.

“Everything looks at the issue in terms of, the corner can’t handle a high-density and high-traffic business,” Mr. Davenport said. “That kind of thing will just make that corner that more difficult. People will be parking on people’s lawns.”

But for residents or the town to purchase the property, BNB Ventures has to be willing to sell.

Records show that the company purchased the lot for $3.5 million in 2007 from Matt Worrell, who owned Bridgehampton Beverage, a beer and liquor distributor once located there. Wayne Bruyn, the Southampton attorney representing BNB Ventures, said on Tuesday that his client still intends to follow through with the approved building, despite little to no activity at the site since the foundation was laid in the fall. Selling has not been considered, he said.

“It takes a lot more to convince anybody to sell. I don’t think at this point in time, with the way they have been treated by both the town and the community, they would just say, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m going to sell the property,’” Mr. Bruyn said. “Someone is going to have to come up with the numbers and be serious about it.

“At the current time, all I know is they have plans to complete the construction of the building,” he added.

There was a time, however, when there was a potential seller.

Shortly after BNB Ventures purchased the corner, East Hampton attorney Leonard Ackerman, who was listed as part-owner on the initial application for the building, had expressed interest to town officials of getting the property on the CPF list. Nancy Graboski, a Bridgehampton resident who was a councilwoman then, recalled this week that she supported the idea, although it never panned out or even went before the Town Board for consideration.

“The thinking was, certainly from my vantage point, that that would be a very prudent move. I really felt the town should’ve proceeded to negotiate with Mr. Ackerman,” she said.

As much as Ms. Graboski agreed that the corner is important, she said it would be too late for the town to take any action on acquiring it—unless BNB Ventures eventually decides to sell. She noted, as did Mr. Bruyn, that the company has invested a lot of time and money into the property, and that the likelihood of it being sold right now is very slim.

“I have a feeling it’s going to be coming with a hefty price tag,” she said.

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... so CVS is gonna' move right across the street from Rite Aid in Bridgehampton, to go head-to-head, until one knocks the other out. Reminds me of the three major sporting goods stores in Riverhead all within a five iron of each other. Two, if not all three, are doomed to fail. Subsequent tenants will be of lesser quality and the property will continue to spiral downward, in both cases at the expense of the residents that live in surrounding areas. But, I get it, property owners have rights irrespective ...more
By William Rodney (552), southampton on Jun 12, 15 9:45 AM
1 member liked this comment
The former board member pointed out that at one time the owners might have sold it to the town. A pity the town didn't move then, but the rest of the board didn't and still doesn't value character, appearance or maintaining the integrity of our resort town which is why it has been passing PDDs and zone changes that benefit developers, not residents. Time for them to go.
By Crabby (63), Southampton on Jun 12, 15 10:03 AM
Was any archaeological investigation done before or during the time when the foundation was excavated? Given the history of the location that would have been wise.
By harbor (411), East Hampton on Jun 12, 15 10:13 AM
What is there to preserve?
By Preliator Lives (429), Obamavillie on Jun 13, 15 8:04 AM
... how about preserving the dignity and the beauty of the East End? That's all.
By William Rodney (552), southampton on Jun 14, 15 10:02 AM
How about giving people their rights to their private property? Only the haves complain about development. They want everyone else to go somewhere else. Very selfish.
By chief1 (2768), southampton on Jun 14, 15 11:27 AM
Hot Tubs,SALE, Southampton Village, SouthamptonFest weekend