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Aug 5, 2015 9:22 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

In Bridgehampton, CPF Money Not An Option For Purchasing Wick's Tavern Corner

The site of the former Wick's Tavern will not be aquired with CPF money and will instead have to be purchased with private money in order for residents to preserve it.
Aug 5, 2015 10:01 AM

Southampton Town officials say Community Preservation Fund revenues will not be used to purchase and preserve the property known as Wick’s Tavern at Bridgehampton’s busiest intersection, despite a push from some hamlet residents.

In 2008, Southampton Town had considered such a purchase. An appraisal was obtained for 2510 Montauk Highway—the site formerly considered for a new CVS Pharmacy—and then approached the property’s owner, BNB Ventures IV, about a potential selling price. The firm gave a price of about $10 million, well above the appraised value, and far beyond what the town could legally pay for it, which is no more than 10 percent over the appraisal.

“Their price tag is considerably higher than what the appraised value shows,” Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said this week, adding that, by law, she could not disclose the appraisal amount.

“If they were willing to accept an offer from us, that would be one thing, but they are asking for a much higher price. That sort of ends the discussion there,” Ms. Throne-Holst said. “If they were interested in selling at the appraised value, we would be interested in discussing it, for sure.”

Residents of Bridgehampton, particularly members of its Citizens Advisory Committee, have been trying to come up with ways to preserve the corner. A building has been approved for the site, and the prospect of a CVS using the space fueled the campaign, as CAC members argued that a high-traffic retailer such as the pharmacy chain would only add to the traffic and parking problems on that end of the hamlet’s business district, where Montauk Highway intersects with Lumber Lane, Ocean Road and the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike.

The CAC had suggested that the town turn the corner into a park or a green space by putting it on the CPF list—something the town had attempted to do several years ago, but to no avail. Many town and other local officials have said they still favored the idea, but all agreed that BNB Ventures would have to be willing to sell at an appropriate cost.

Records show that BNB Ventures purchased the lot for $3.5 million in 2007, just a year before the town appraised the land and made an offer.

Wayne Bruyn, the attorney representing BNB Ventures, has said that selling the property now is not a consideration, as his client intends to finish constructing a 9,030-square-foot building there, and find tenants for it.

Ms. Throne-Holst noted that the only way for the CAC to preserve the corner at this point is to come up with the money on its own. The committee has considered the route of self-taxation by asking for an increase in Bridgehampton’s park and parking district taxes, and using the additional funds accumulated over a period of time to put toward purchasing the property.

But Deputy Town Supervisor Frank Zappone said that town attorneys looked into the idea and determined that it would not be feasible, as those two taxes can be used only for snow removal, installing sidewalks, maintaining existing parks and other related purposes. “That funding source is not appropriate for their request,” he said.

Raising the money through private investors is another option, but residents have admitted that would require incredibly large contributions that may be out of their reach.

Ms. Throne-Holst said that splitting the cost with the CAC, as the town did with the Bridgehampton Historical Society just across the intersection at the Nathaniel Rogers House, for example, is not an option. In the case of the Nathaniel Rogers House, the town was able to purchase the land, while the historical society raised money to privately fund renovations of the building. The Wick’s Tavern corner would involve only a land acquisition and therefore cannot be purchased with a joint payment, according to CPF rules. “Because it’s the purchase of land, it has to be an either/or thing,” the supervisor said.

Now that CVS is out of the picture—the company terminated its lease agreement with BNB Ventures in June and has instead opted to pursue a location in the proposed Bridgehampton Gateway development on the west side of the hamlet—some CAC members have said they are okay with smaller retailers and offices going in the building, the initial proposed use when the building was approved in 2011. BNB Ventures is currently seeking new tenants for the building and has listed the available spaces with Saunders, advertising three retail spaces on the bottom floor of the building and three office spaces on the top floor.

Nancy Walter-Yvertes, co-chair of the CAC, said she personally would be satisfied with sticking with the current use plan and dropping the preservation efforts altogether. “It would be nicer if it were a park—there’s no question in my mind,” she said. “But is it worth all the wear and tear we have to go through?”

She added that the CAC did recently ask the town for a new appraisal of the property, but was turned down. The CAC does have some money available to order an appraisal of the corner on its own, depending on how much it would cost. “If it’s exorbitant, we might not,” she said.

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One has to wonder how the project ever got approved in the first place. Where did they find the required parking for 3 retail spaces and 3 office units? That would be an interesting paper trail to follow.
By bird (755), Sag Harbor on Aug 5, 15 9:21 PM
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