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Oct 11, 2017 9:40 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Plans To Buy Lobster Inn Property With CPF Funds For Shellfish Hatchery

The Lobster Inn property.
Oct 11, 2017 9:40 AM

The Southampton Town Board is expected to follow through this week with the purchase of a well-known former restaurant property in Shinnecock Hills for $8.5 million, via Community Preservation Fund revenues.

The former Lobster Inn—operated most recently as the Lobster Grille Inn until it closed last fall—will be converted to a shellfish hatchery when the purchase is finalized, possibly as early as Thursday, October 12.

The pending purchase of the land just north of the terminus of Sunrise Highway was discussed at length during Tuesday’s Town Board meeting. The Town Board was originally expected to vote on the purchase Tuesday afternoon but opted to table the resolution to add language allowing the property to be used for educational purposes.

The majority of the 10 acres will be purchased via the CPF in the typical fashion, to preserve the land from development. But a 1-acre swath on the western side of the property, which includes a house, will be purchased with $1.2 million from CPF funds set aside for water quality improvement projects, explained CPF Manager Mary Wilson. She noted that the land will be used for a sewage treatment facility.

The highly visible property, which actually consists of three adjoining parcels, includes waterfront land, a dock with 48 boat slips, and access to both Cold Spring Pond and Peconic Bay. The properties are currently owned by a pair of limited liability corporations, Peconic Bay Marina LLC and Peconic Bay Residence LLC.

If the town goes through with its purchase, the old Lobster Inn property could retain a restaurant use, perhaps coinciding with the shellfish hatchery, as long as it does not become the main use of the property, Ms. Wilson added.

“You could have a small clam bar, but you could not turn the entire Lobster Inn into a seafood restaurant,” Ms. Wilson said during Tuesday’s meeting. “That’s the distinction.”

The site also will continue to house the marina, which currently has 48 boat slips. The revenue generated from the boats will be used to maintain the marina and Lobster Inn property, though it cannot be used to fund the shellfish hatchery.

Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman noted that there could be state funding to help run the hatchery.

The supervisor noted that he already spoke to water quality expert Dr. Christopher Gobler, a professor in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University, who supported the idea of a shellfish hatchery at the site.

After many years as a restaurant, the Lobster Inn property had been targeted for development at times in recent years.

In 1969, George “Skip” Tollefsen opened the Lobster Inn there, and, 40 years later, he received Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals approval to build 25 beach cottage-style condominium units on the land.

After closing the restaurant after several decades, he then sold the property to Peconic Bay Marina LLC in 2011. The Suffolk County Health Department would not allow 25 residential units to be built there without a sewage treatment system, but in 2014 a plan was submitted that included one, and the applicants also sought to change the use of the Lobster Inn from a restaurant to a clubhouse.

At one point, condominiums were envisioned for the site, in a project dubbed “The Maritime.” After that, Douglas Elliman Real Estate pitched building 13 luxury homes or 25 townhouses, with a 48-slip marina.

For four years, Randy Riess and Tim Burke operated a restaurant there, called the Lobster Grille Inn. They closed and moved out in October 2016, saying the landlord, Eldad Levy, the president and CEO of Centrock Corporation in Manhattan, could not guarantee them the space through the summer of 2017, so it didn’t make sense to stay.

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Once again the Town ignores its own master plan and removes Resort Waterfront Business Property from the tax rolls, limiting the social and economic benefit to the community recognized as essential to the well-being of the Town.

When is the Town going to begin to add properties to that designation instead of taking them away? Why wasn't the old Cat Ballou/Drift Inn property used for a hatchery? Is this dirty little cove actually suitable for aquaculture or is it simply another instance ...more
Nov 6, 17 3:17 PM appended by VOS
Vote for people, not for parties.
By VOS (1010), WHB on Oct 11, 17 3:17 PM
1 member liked this comment
Most likely it would not remain a dining establishment, much like the recent debacle on the Shinnecock Canal.

Is a hatchery worse than condos?
By Mr. Z (9513), North Sea on Oct 11, 17 8:32 PM
DISAGREE --- this is exactly the kind of move that the Town can make to preserve and rehabilate its estuaries. This is the only way that the Town can ultimately build its tax roles. Ruin the Estuary, ruin the Town. Thank you Jay!
By kuali (22), southampton on Oct 12, 17 1:31 PM
2 members liked this comment
not the ideal place for business property as it is too close to the highway. The cove is very suitable for aquaculture as the people across the cove have had an shellfish farm for years.

The shinnecock canal will hopefully be turned into a public waterfront space in the upcoming years.
By DomTheDon (1), Southampton on Oct 12, 17 10:21 PM
The owner can sell the property if they don't want to run a restaurant. Once the CPF fund owns it will sit and rot like the other buildings they bought in Hampton Bays. A new owner like could purchase a property zoned for Resort Water Front Business and creat another successful building. The public should not have to compete with the CPF fund for a property that has been a very successful business in the past. They should be buying large sections of open land and not be taking businesses off the ...more
By Ernie (70), Hampton Bays on Oct 14, 17 10:38 AM
1 member liked this comment
The owner can sell the property if they don't want to run a restaurant. Once the CPF fund owns it will sit and rot like the other buildings they bought in Hampton Bays. A new owner like could purchase a property zoned for Resort Water Front Business and creat another successful building. The public should not have to compete with the CPF fund for a property that has been a very successful business in the past. They should be buying large sections of open land and not be taking businesses off the ...more
By Ernie (70), Hampton Bays on Oct 14, 17 10:39 AM
1 member liked this comment
Do we have the money to invest in a hatchery? The hatchery idea is good if it is funded.
What happened to the one on dune rd? Have to get a plan going and the funds. Who is going to run it?
By knitter (894), Southampton on Oct 12, 17 8:09 AM
1 member liked this comment
AGREE hatchery is good idea if it is funded. But regardless of the funding, this plan is a good one and is clearly a step in the right direction
By kuali (22), southampton on Oct 12, 17 1:34 PM
Why are we allowing the CPF fund to take another great waterfront restaurant off the tax rolls. Our dishonest town board says they support tourism in Hampton Bays then uses the CPF fund ( funded by a 2 percent tax on real estate sales in the Town of Southampton) to purchase land that should be available for private use. This tax should be repealed if there are not enough good large properties to purchase. The Fund was not created to remove restaurants and clubs from the tax rolls. The fund has ...more
By Ernie (70), Hampton Bays on Oct 12, 17 6:43 PM
1 member liked this comment
If you think the purchaser of this property will continue to operate a dining establishment, you obliviously have not been paying attention.
By Mr. Z (9513), North Sea on Oct 12, 17 11:06 PM
The ONLY thing currently hatching in Hampton Bays are new MS-13 gang members! The closed and boarded up properties throughout HB have become a breeding ground for drug and gang activity and the motels converted to low income multi family residences have become incubators for these criminals to grow and multiply. How sad!
By DisgustedHamptons (18), Hampton Bays on Oct 12, 17 11:29 PM
1 member liked this comment
Condos pollute our waters, shellfish recharge/rehabilitate it. This is a no-brainer.
By johnj (693), Westhampton on Oct 13, 17 10:02 AM
2 members liked this comment
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