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May 20, 2016 11:49 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Property Owner Carol Konner Withdraws Support For Bridgehampton Gateway PDD Proposal

Carol Konner at a CAC meeting last month where her Gateway project was discussed.
May 24, 2016 1:55 PM

When Carol Konner told community members at a recent Southampton Town Board meeting to be careful what they wish for, she meant it.

The words rang true last Thursday, May 19, when the main developer and property owner behind the proposed Bridgehampton Gateway project informed town officials that she is no longer interested in moving forward with a town-initiated planned development district proposal targeting a site across Montauk Highway from the Bridgehampton Commons. Instead, Ms. Konner said she will look to develop the 13-acre property under its current highway business zoning.

The PDD would have permitted a blend of different uses at the site that are blocked by the existing zoning, in exchange for community benefits.

“I am withdrawing my support for the town’s initiative after three and a half years as it relates to the PDD,” Ms. Konner said. “It is a delay that I didn’t have to have—I could have just gone through with present zoning with the Equinox,” she added, referring to the 27,000-square-foot luxury gym that is the centerpiece for the site. Her proposal for that development was filed with the town three years ago, and she said she will “activate” that application now.

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman confirmed that “there is no point” in pursuing the PDD at the Gateway if Ms. Konner is not interested.

As for the remaining square footage at the Gateway, Ms. Konner said she is not yet sure of what will take up the space, which she has paid $1.5 million in total for over the past three years. The Carvel that is already located on the site will remain, she said, though “it won’t take on the same form, but it will always be there unless the tenants want to leave.”

Although the Planning Board can control how the parcels look, household appliance stores, radio and television stores, as well as auto and home supply stores are all allowed in highway business zones, according to the town code. Car dealerships and fast-food restaurants are permitted, though they would require a special exception permit from the Planning Board.

Ms. Konner declined to comment on whether her plans will include either market-rate or affordable housing, a key part of the PDD proposal.

That proposal had recently been reduced to a total of 100,000 square feet of development, including 80,000 square feet of commercial space, 15,000 square feet of affordable housing units—the part of the project that fulfills the “community benefit” requirement—and 5,000 square feet of market-rate housing.

Planning Board Chairman Dennis Finnerty said that the PDD did seem to be an “intensive use,” but it is unfortunate that the site will be developed under highway business zoning, as it “doesn’t lend itself to Bridgehampton, unfortunately.”

It is also interesting, he said, as the Bridgehampton community had initially rallied behind the PDD proposal, in stark contrast to the intense opposition that was formed against it earlier this year.

“At first, residents were pushing for the PDD so they could land the CVS and get it out of their downtown,” he said, referring to opposition to having the pharmacy giant on the corner of Montauk Highway and the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike. The Gateway PDD had been suggested as an alternative site for the CVS, as the special zoning would have allowed for the retail use there.

There is also an advantage with PDDs, Mr. Finnerty said, as there is a coordination between all of the separate parcels on the property, which is difficult to achieve otherwise.

Nevertheless, he said the Planning Board would want to see how Ms. Konner plans to develop the entire 13-acre property under existing zoning, and how the nine different parcels would be interconnected, before approving a singular application for the Equinox.

Town Planning and Development Administrator Kyle Collins noted that there are two separate entities that own all of the parcels, though the Konners are a common party in both: Strawberry Fields LLC, which owns about 3 acres on the western side of the property; and Konner-Friedlander, which owns about 10 acres, including the proposed Equinox site on the eastern side.

“The build-out that they have to show on the Equinox one is only going to be the build-out on Konner-Friedlander,” Mr. Collins said, adding that the Equinox, as currently proposed, does not conform under current highway business zoning and would require size limit variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals. The maximum size of a building on a single lot there is 15,000 square feet, Mr. Collins said, but the Equinox is currently planned as two buildings, one that is 13,000 square feet and the other that is 14,000 square feet—which would not be allowed, because they are being used by the same vendor.

“If there were two different buildings that had separate tenants and uses … but you can’t circumvent maximum size limit and have the same use,” Mr. Collins said.

“Whatever comes in ... aesthetics will be at the forefront, both structural aesthetics, landscaping and design—that is going to be at the forefront of any review,” Mr. Finnerty said. “It is a gateway, so it is a very important parcel, or series of parcels.”

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If overbuilding a commercially zoned intersection in Bridghampton is Kyle Collins "Hindenburg" then allowing a mega golf development on 500 acres of pine barrens in East Quogue must be a Kyle Collind "Hiroshima".
By CleanWater (122), East Quogue on May 20, 16 10:15 PM
2 members liked this comment
Many officials in Town Hall have made comments about Kyle. How long are they going to ignore the "elephant" in the room?
It's time to deal with him and his "developers slant".
By sag2harbor (117), sag harbor on May 20, 16 10:28 PM
1 member liked this comment
Could've been a nice development with a good amount of affordable housing. Too bad.
By Mouthampton (439), Southampton on May 21, 16 12:40 AM
2 members liked this comment
Not everyone looking for an affordable apartment is Section 8 housing. Could be a single guy swinging a hammer for a living or a young couple just starting out. Maybe a retired person who doesn't need a house anymore. Would have been nice to add a few affordable units instead of the subsidized units constantly being touted by Town Hall.
By bird (829), Sag Harbor on May 21, 16 10:11 AM
1 member liked this comment
Why doesn't the town purchase this land with our "CPF" funds and preserve it! Not a spot for development. Stop the building!!!
By Hillsnbells (43), Southampton on May 21, 16 10:38 AM
Hillsnbells, you hit the nail on the head. "Not a spot for development". But until the Town takes this PDD zoning gift off the table the developer won't negotiate. The minute the PDD is gone so is the Arizona developer. Then the land can and will be acquired at reasonable market value. Their are about two hundred unsold lots in East Quogue now. What is a developer going to do with the 50 or so additional they would actually get under current zoning with all regulations applied? I'll tell you ...more
By CleanWater (122), East Quogue on May 21, 16 11:28 AM
2 members liked this comment
The developer doesn't have to wait for the town to do anything, at least according to this article, they can build 90,000 square feet of space. The special district would have potentially increased that to 100,000 including some housing.

My guess is the developer got tired of waiting for the town to make decisions as wants to get moving, hence the pending application for the 27,000 sq ft fitness center.
By Rich Morey (378), East Hampton on May 21, 16 12:28 PM
I love how the first thing everyone assumes is that affordable housing is for section 8.

Southampton Town offers "Affordable Housing" to First Responders prior to the public. Unless you're a complete idiot, you know that the BHFD is hurting for members because so many young people can't afford to live in BH anymore.

Konner can now develop the property. Just not with any affordable housing. Way to go, NIMBY Liberals. The development will be done without housing.

I'm ...more
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on May 21, 16 7:44 PM
Exactly! The local real estate offices are called daily from young people looking for affordable year round rentals! Look at the towns up west like along Willam Floyd Pkwy or downtown Patchogue who see the future with nicely developed apartments for locals. The Hamptons bubble is set to burst. Buy stock in real estate sign manufacturers.
By Mouthampton (439), Southampton on May 21, 16 10:38 PM
1 member liked this comment
The Hamptons real estate bubble will never burst, but unless a family has made long term planning for its successive generations, affordable housing will be limited to the every so often lottery schemes that offer say, one house, to thousands of applicants.
By InnerBay (72), Southampton on May 22, 16 7:45 AM
1 member liked this comment
Carol Konner has always done the correct and right thing with all her projects. Last year the CAC was loving her when the CVS problem was it's main focus. Problem solved now the PDd is it's new cause. OK 80,000 SQFT WITH many living spaces is NOT what it wants??? Instead go with 90,000 SWFT, all businesses we do not want because the Kellis Pond crowd has money?? Sorry cannot have it both ways. They bought knowing how the Konner property was zoned and now we all have to live with "them" who ...more
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on May 22, 16 7:08 PM
2 members liked this comment
Affordable Housing DOESN"T have to be Section 8, the people living there could be nurses, young writers from local newspapers, office clerks, young real state brokers, young families etc etc etc
By Mate (55), Southampton on May 23, 16 6:36 PM
thanks a lot CAC bunch of idiots as I see it. You asked for it you got it!!
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on May 23, 16 7:50 PM
1 member liked this comment
did the CAC notice the VERY LARGE crane putting up a cell phone tower on Foster Avenue? Probably not since they cannot do anything about it because it is on railroad property. Also Blue Light Propane is getting ready to put in a large storage tank, also on railroad property, which the CAC can do nothing, How do these things happen when we have a watchdog committee (with no power) Seems to me the CAC is a bunch of hyprocrytes who cannot save Bridgehampton at all!!!!! So what is the problem with ...more
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on May 24, 16 5:24 PM
Funny, How those people who are for this PDD complain that we need affordable housing but if the project was built I bet those same people will be the first to complain about the traffic it would cause.The property should be brought and kept open space. Most of the trade parade, come from up island and most have no interest in living out here.
By JM11968 (71), southampton on May 24, 16 7:51 PM