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Jul 16, 2019 2:12 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Former Hampton Bays Chamber Building Still Vacant; Town Exploring Its Options

Jul 17, 2019 11:28 AM

The fate of the former Hampton Bays Chamber of Commerce building is still up in the air.

According to Southampton Town Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone, the property was recently appraised—the first step in the “alienation” process to remove state-imposed restrictions on the Montauk Highway parcel that prevent it or the two-story building from being altered.

Southampton Town Attorney James Burke said on Tuesday that “he was not at liberty” to disclose the appraisal amount. The property had most recently been appraised at $688,800, according to public record.

Mr. Zappone has said that the 0.9-acre property was originally bought with an open space bond in 2001, which encroaches on a proposed tenant’s plans to create an activity center for developmentally disabled adults on the East End.

The Special Needs East End Network, or SEEN—an organization that provides supporting programs and services to adults with developmental disabilities—expressed interest in the building last year, but has been met with several roadblocks, this being the latest.

In order to remove the property’s restrictions, under New York State property law, the town must substitute the property for another parcel to be used for parkland preservation in its stead, according to State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. The town would continue to own the property and could then lease it to the nonprofit following its alienation.

Mr. Zappone said that Southampton Community Preservation Fund Manager Lisa Kombrink is in the process of attempting to locate a parcel of equal or greater value—preferably one that would allow the town to create Montauk Highway access to Good Ground Park—to swap with the former chamber property.

Ms. Kombrink did not return phone calls on Monday.

The final step in the alienation process is to have a bill approved by the State Legislature and signed by the governor, according to Mr. Thiele. However, he said that time restraints have made it near impossible to accomplish that by the November general election, adding that it will likely be pushed to 2020.

But on Tuesday, Mr. Burke said that the town is still exploring its options. “A decision hasn’t been made as far as what we’re going to do with the chamber property,” he said, calling it a “work in progress.”

The 1960s building has sat vacant since the chamber vacated it in October 2017. Mr. Zappone has said that the building requires extensive renovations, including repairing the roof and the entire second floor, which are estimated to cost between $150,000 and $200,000.

Additional repairs include replacing the building’s original heating, electrical and ventilation systems, repaving the parking lot and repairing broken shingles and leaky windows.

In the meantime, Paul Rogers, co-founder of SEEN, said that the organization, like the town, is also keeping its options open.

“As the Town Board members have pointed out to us, there are many hurdles that have to be overcome to make that one work,” he said.

He explained that he has recently expressed interest in the Southampton Village Volunteer Ambulance building on Meeting House Lane, which will become available once the ambulance’s new headquarters on Windmill Lane is completed.

“We have to keep our eyes open for other opportunities and just be ready to pounce when something actually comes along,” he said.

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This building is conspicuously missing from the HB Downtown Overlay District Regulating Plan presented by the Town Administration. Was that an oversight or does the Town already have plans with this building that they are withholding? Maybe the Press can get an update as to the GGP "esplanade" and the purchase of the land from the HBFD across from the HBFD headquarters. This administration seems to have a problem with the truth and transparency.
By G.A.Lombardi (512), Hampton Bays on Jul 16, 19 5:43 PM
Mr. Zappone "aka" Jays man, has already set things in motion with the overlay plans, For more than 18 years the town let it fall into poor condition. No different than other locations such as the beach pavillions.

SEEN needs to make political contributions to get anything done with this current board. Just follow the money.

The Press can not and never will ask hard questions of the town administration. All soft news reporting.
By Hamptonsway (89), Southampton on Jul 16, 19 10:07 PM
The administration appears to not know where the truth ends and the false and misleading statements begin. They withhold important information either because they don't know, they don't care or they purposely want to mislead the public a/k/a "lying by omission". The Press should ask for an update for the esplanade to GGP and the purchase of the land from the HBFD that was a cornerstone for the connection from Main Street to GGP. It was promised to the community in 2016/2017. If I was a betting ...more
By G.A.Lombardi (512), Hampton Bays on Jul 17, 19 9:17 AM
Drain the swamp.
By A Great American (95), East Quogue on Jul 17, 19 11:55 AM
Tear it down and add some benches...
By knitter (1805), Southampton on Jul 19, 19 3:01 PM
Actually if you look at the "regulating plan" for the HB Downtown Overlay District, it is zoned for high density apartments. There is a Town Board meeting on Tuesday, July 23rd in the HB Senior Center starting at 6 PM. There is the 3rd public hearing on this "bait and switch" plan from the Town.
By G.A.Lombardi (512), Hampton Bays on Jul 20, 19 8:56 AM
The Hampton Classic, Horse Show, Bridgehampton