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Oct 9, 2015 11:50 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Inn Owner Proposes High-End Hotel Suites In Hill Street Complex

The buildings at 71 Hill Street.
Oct 13, 2015 3:11 PM

The owner of the Southampton Inn has proposed renovating one of the buildings in the 71 Hill Street complex to turn it into high-end hotel units.

Dede Gotthelf of 71 Hill LLC and 91 Hill LLC—the entities that own the two namesake properties in Southampton Village—is proposing to create up to 18 high-end hotel suites in the building that currently houses the Plaza Cafe, WPPB 88.3-FM, Jimenez Design Group, Southampton Engineering Services, the Law Office of William E. Grigo, and the Southampton Town Democrats office.

The proposal also includes a handful of possible workforce housing units and the construction of an expansive garden in the center of Vahradian Way, the dead-end road straddled by the Southampton Inn, located at 91 Hill Street, and the 71 Hill Street complex.

Linda Riley, the Southampton-based attorney representing Ms. Gotthelf, said in a presentation to the Southampton Village Board last Thursday night, October 8, that high-end hotel suites are needed in the community to accommodate year-round visitors.

Coincidentally, the presentation came within weeks after the Village Latch, a neighbor of the Southampton Inn, was announced to be in contract to be sold to developers, with condominiums likely replacing it—though Ms. Gotthelf said in an interview last week that she already had this idea in mind for years and initially presented it to the Village Board at a work session in June.

“What the village needs, in this point and time, is more upscale hotel rooms—places for visitors [that are] appropriate, and somewhat luxurious,” Ms. Riley told the Village Board at its semi-monthly meeting. “The idea is to have luxurious, commodious accommodations … all in the footprint” of the existing building.

Ms. Riley said no change of zoning would be required for the structure, which is currently zoned for village business district use. The proposal would require a special use permit from the Village Zoning Board of Appeals, though, as well as a full site plan review by the Village Planning Board.

The attorney noted that before those applications can be processed, the village would have to, in legal parlance, “abandon” a large portion of Vahradian Way from its road system so that it can be unpaved and landscaped to create the garden, at Ms. Gotthelf’s expense. The road—named in honor of Mardooni “Moon” Vahradian, a former village official, after his death in 2008—was intended to be adopted into the village road system in the 1970s and used to connect Hill Street to Coopers Farm Road, which runs through a subdivision several yards to the north, but the plan was abandoned in the late 1980s.

Because of the garden, which would begin several yards from the road’s entrance and continue north, Vahradian Way would immediately feed into a small parking space on the left side of the road, where the Southampton Inn is, and a larger parking lot on the right that would curve around to the back of the new hotel suites. There are currently 192 parking spaces between the two properties, but the proposal reduces that number to 132.

Ms. Gotthelf, who has owned the 71 Hill Street complex for about 20 years, said she thought landscaping over the road would be more visually appealing than the road is in its current state. “Right now, it’s an eyesore. It’s in need of grading and fixing,” she said. “It’s really not a very attractive road, because it doesn’t have a use.”

Ms. Gotthelf added that she already alerted her tenants of the plan a few years ago and that it, for the most part, has been well-received.

Doug Gulija, owner of and head chef at the Plaza Cafe, said he has since been passively looking for a more visible spot in the village to house his business, and has considered the vacant building at the front of the 71 Hill Street complex. He has even thought about purchasing a building himself so he could actually own instead of renting out space for his restaurant.

The chef noted that the search has been complicated, however, because he first would like to see how plans for establishing a proposed $33 million sewer district in the village will play out, as the sewer district service area would allow for restaurants to have higher occupancy limits but also would tack on additional taxes. “We’re taking it one day at a time,” he said.

Village Board members have not given the proposal the green light just yet. On Thursday night, Trustee Michael Irving requested more information on proposed workforce housing that is part of the proposal, and was also interested in hearing more details about how Vahradian Way will be maintained.

Mayor Mark Epley expressed concern about the loss of 60 parking spaces, but said this week that he recognizes the need for high-end hotel suites and supports Ms. Gotthelf’s proposal. But while aspects such as fire truck access to the road would have to be resolved, he said he is focused on getting the Vahradian family’s input on the plan first, especially because the village would have to discontinue its ownership of a majority of that street.

“Mardooni Vahradian’s dedication to this community and to veterans … there’s very few people in this world like him. It’s important for the Village Board to remember and appreciate his contribution to the community, and protect that,” Mr. Epley said. “There will be some things that have to be worked out.”

Ms. Gotthelf said she has no qualms with the mayor’s request. “I would love for them to come out—this is not to remove Vahradian Way, it’s to improve Vahradian Way. I hope they realize that,” she said. “I think it’s a good thing. But if the trustees feel like they would rather retain the road … I’ll do whatever the trustees and the community would like.”

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Trustee Michael Irving is a jackass. What part of "high end hotel room" sounds like workforce housing.
By bird (824), Sag Harbor on Oct 10, 15 9:12 AM
Great idea. Long overdue.
By KevinLuss (356), SH on Oct 10, 15 4:10 PM
1 member liked this comment
Great idea. Long overdue.
By KevinLuss (356), SH on Oct 10, 15 4:10 PM
Now we have the new daddy in law, mayor project know as the village latch. The mayor doesnt like 17 hi end hotel units but loves 40 condos at the village latch. Now we have the big push for a 30 million dollar sewer system which will not do anything but push more density. Hmm village latch, and sewer system sounds interesting.
As far as the parrish pond museum it makes me laugh that it was never on the market and sells for 2.5 million then put on the market for 5 million. Meanwhile 400k comes ...more
By chief1 (2788), southampton on Oct 10, 15 11:31 PM
You people are rude. Mark is an excellent mayor and has done an awful lot for this village. Slinging epithets like ''Eptard'' in anonymity is really low class.
By KevinLuss (356), SH on Oct 11, 15 7:24 AM
The article above is about the Southampton Inn making some of it's hotel rooms nicer. But, I see what you did there. Since this story is about hotel rooms.....every story about hotel rooms should be discussed. The paranoia drenched consipiracy you describe is way out of context.
By KevinLuss (356), SH on Oct 13, 15 7:05 AM
Something very sketchy is going on here. Community Watchdogs need to keep their eye on this, I have a feeling something is going to get pushed thru this winter and whatever this property is developed into is NOT going to a positive thing for the community.
By SisBoomBonacker (106), Hamptons on Oct 11, 15 7:38 AM
A 30 million dollar sewer sewer project to benefit this project and paid by taxpayers. This is a blatant bunch of crap to intensify density in the business district.
By chief1 (2788), southampton on Oct 11, 15 10:11 AM
2 members liked this comment
Only good things can come from both the condo and high end hotel proposals. And I agree, Mark does a very good job as mayor, he should not be insulted by Luss
By westhamptonboy (227), Westhampton on Oct 12, 15 11:23 PM
Anyone who thinks Mark did a good job allowing his father-in-law's densely packed condo site to be approved needs to go take a close look at it. Wall to wall over-building. The only one to benefit was the developers, as it was certainly not the village.
By Crabby (63), Southampton on Oct 13, 15 9:14 AM
Emperor Epley has allowed some questionable things to happen during His reign. From the Father in Laws' condo development to the surf school operating in direct violation of its' permit with the police told to look the other way, it seems to be a pay to play Kingdom.
By bigfresh (4593), north sea on Oct 13, 15 9:33 AM