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Jun 27, 2012 10:16 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Former Saks Fifth Avenue Building Still Vacant For Summer, Possible Tenant Could Move In By Next Spring

Jun 27, 2012 10:50 AM

The former Saks Fifth Avenue building that sits at the corner of Hampton Road and Main Street will remain vacant this summer season, according to the building’s owner, Robert Rattenni. If things go according to plan, however, the village could see a year-round, national chain store move in by the spring of 2013.

In April, Mayor Mark Epley expressed optimism about seeing the building occupied by this summer. It was unknown what company Mr. Rattenni was negotiating with, but rumors swirled about the possibility of introducing Pottery Barn, a home furnishing chain store that had previously expressed interest in the store, or even the coffee chain Starbucks, to the space.

Unfortunately, there has been no word of a deal yet, but Mr. Rattenni said he is optimistic that the store will be ready for next spring.

When asked if he is in negotiations with Pottery Barn, he said he did not want to confirm anything.

“It is a very year-round store and it will be accessible to the year-round community, as well as the summer community,” he said. “I’m not at liberty to talk about it for another couple of weeks, until it is finalized. I’m superstitious that way.”

Mayor Epley said while he does not know what company Mr. Rattenni is dealing with, he will be one of the first to know if the deal goes through.

“He said, ‘The moment we finalize the deal and we sign on the line, you’ll be one of the first phone calls I’ll make,’” the mayor said, referring to the building owner. “To know we could have a year-round tenant where many people will be encouraged to go to, I’m very excited.”

Mr. Rattenni may have had a difficult time finding a new tenant because of an older fire safety system that needs upgrading. Saks was in the building from the 1970s to 2010, according to Mayor Epley, and the system was never brought up to date. In order for a new tenant to move in, an investment would need to be made to get up to safety standards. Only then could a new certificate of occupancy be issued.

Mr. Rattenni currently owns six commercial buildings in East Hampton, two in Southampton, including the Saks building, and two industrial buildings in Wainscott.

“Robert doesn’t like to see vacancies in his buildings,” the mayor said. “He puts a lot of effort in ensuring they’re occupied, even during challenging times like in 2008, 2009 and 2010. He worked with his tenants to make sure they stayed occupied. That’s what you hope you have in your landlords.”

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