Gourmet chain Citarella’s long-rumored interest in opening a market in Southampton Village is coming to fruition with a new proposal on Hampton Road.
Plans converting the “mini-mall” at 20 and 22 Hampton Road into a market—with Citarella poised to take over the space—are being considered by the Southampton Village Planning Board. A public hearing for the site plan is scheduled for Monday, March 4.
Having a new market downtown could have a direct effect on several business owners. Those who currently rent space in the mini-mall would have to move out, and surrounding delis and markets could face direct competition from a popular store that has locations in East Hampton, Bridgehampton and Manhattan.
If the plans gets the green light, the applicant, Elka LLC., which is owned by Arturo Quiros, will be able to prepare the buildings for a prospective buyer, according to the village Building Department. Mr. Quiros recently purchased 26 Hampton Road, where China Garden, a Chinese takeout restaurant, is located, so that he could upgrade the septic system behind that building to accommodate the new market.
Elka’s attorney, John Bennett, Mr. Quiros, and Citarella owner Joe Gurrera all did not return phone calls seeking comment this week.
While the site plan application does not specify that the market would be a Citarella, Village Mayor Mark Epley confirmed this week that it was his understanding that that was the case, and Suffolk County Health Department paperwork identified Citarella as the applicant. One business owner within the mini-mall also said he was approached by a representative from Citarella about leaving his space.
In November, Mr. Quiros submitted a site plan application to the Planning Board for approval of interior alterations to 20 and 22 Hampton Road. Because a market is a permitted use where it is located in the village business district, the proposal would not require a change of use variance. Years ago, the building housed an A&P grocery store.
If the plan is approved, Mr. Quiros’s next step would be to take his application to the Village Board of Architectural Review and Historic Preservation. If approved, Mr. Quiros would convert the existing numerous retail uses—the Perfect Purse, the Ananda Yoga and Wellness Center, and Sandcastle currently lease space—into a single use by removing walls inside the building and reconfiguring the space to accommodate a market. The building is currently 11,451 square feet of retail space and 1,777 square feet of non-medical office space; 20 Hampton Road is a one-story building and 22 Hampton Road is a two-story building. They are joined by a long hallway, which is why it’s been dubbed a mini-mall.
Also on the to-do list: an upgraded septic system and new storm water basins behind China Garden. Currently, the sewage disposal plans are awaiting a Suffolk County Department of Health approval under the name “Citarella and 26 Hampton Road.”
At the February 4 Planning Board meeting, board members approved a negative declaration on an environmental impact assessment prepared by Nelson, Pope and Voorhis, which said that no significant change is expected to occur with the proposed changes, meaning that an extensive environmental review would not be required, and set the public hearing date for March 4.
Mayor Epley said Mr. Guerrera approached individual members of the board a year or so ago about a possible Citarella in the village, but didn’t get a lot of support because of parking and sewage issues.
“My issue with it is we’re talking about a high-end market that is in direct competition with Schmidt’s and Catena’s and other delis in the area,” he said. “These places are all locally owned and participate in supporting a lot of things in this community. But this is not something we really have the right to say no to.”
The mayor said that he is concerned that there will be difficulty with access to the new market, as well as the volume of people and limited parking.
Dennis Schmidt of Schmidt’s Market on North Sea Road said he is also concerned about the potential market. “There seems to be a free rein and open season on opening food markets in and around Southampton Village,” he said, adding that if a new market moves in, pedestrians would have to dodge delivery trucks and a multitude of cars looking for a parking spot.
The Citarella proposal is not the first plan for a new market in the village. For a little over a year, the village has been buzzing with the prospect of a new Fresh Market grocery store at the intersection of Hampton and Flying Point roads, as well as a new King Kullen and shopping center in Tuckahoe along County Road 39. Waldbaum’s is the village’s only existing supermarket.