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Jan 14, 2019 3:45 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

New Bank Proposed For Historic House In Southampton Village

116 North Sea Road in Southampton Village. ANISAH ABDULLAH
Jan 15, 2019 3:25 PM

An unnamed new bank will move into a historic house on the northeast corner of North Sea Road and Bowden Square in Southampton Village.

The Village Planning Board held a public hearing last Monday, January 7, on the proposal, and neighboring residents expressed concerns about preservation of the property’s historic value, as well as pedestrian safety on a busy corner.

The plans call for the relocation, expansion and renovation of a 160-year-old house, as well as the removal of public parking spaces to make room for a driveway.

Representatives of the property owner, Hamptons HDA LLC, presented the final proposal, which is in compliance with all village zoning regulations. They are proposing to relocate the building to another spot on the property and make minor renovations that include raising the ceiling height and providing a drive-through service for the as-yet-undisclosed bank.

The plans also include the construction of a parking lot and two access points—a two-way entrance and exit on North Sea Road, and a one-way exit onto Bowden Square. The addition of a driveway on Bowden Square would eliminate four parking spaces along the street, which are typically used by customers of the restaurant Union Cantina across the street.

The house, at 116 North Sea Road, is a two-family, two-story 3,600-square-foot dwelling built around 1858. Hamptons HDA LLC purchased it for $1.65 million in 2015 from 116 North Sea Road Corp.

Although it lies within the village historic district, the building is technically not a contributing structure, so the owner has the right to remove it if they wish. But the owner is choosing to keep the building in order to preserve its history.

“We’re going to really go out of our way to preserve the old building,” architect John David Rose said at the meeting. “It is a great building, and it’s right at the entrance to the village.”

The Village Architectural Review and Historic Preservation Board approved the project’s preliminary design in September 2017.

Planning Board Chairman Alan McFarland noted that the village already has 11 banks—a branch of Bridgehampton National Bank is across North Sea Road from the site, and a Gold Coast Bank branch is a short distance to the north—and that adding another could infringe on quality of life in the village. He described the village as “quite a banking center for Suffolk County.”

“I am also advised by planning persons that the increase of banks in a municipality is an item of important discussion,” he said, suggesting that there were certain types of businesses that can become detrimental once a certain number of them open in a village. “As an example, more brokerage firms for Realtors may be adverse to the quality of care in a village, a municipal village like ours. So I am just interested in the fact that we appear to be getting more banks.”

Sally Van Allen, who lives around the corner from Bowden Square, voiced concerns about the proposal, citing the historic value of the home and the lack of pedestrian sidewalks and crosswalks at the intersection.

“The village seems to be allowing more and more businesses to creep into the historic district,” she added at the podium. “I am one of those people who are flabbergasted that a bank that won’t even name who they are wants to come into the village.

“There are lots of other properties. What about the old post office that’s already a drive-in?” she said, referring to a vacant property on Nugent Street. “There are other options to not encroach on the historic district.”

One of the issues raised in the past was how the construction of the Bowden Square driveway would affect the underground stormwater drainage that runs to Lake Agawam. Board members said that the village wishes to possibly expand that drainage area, so the applicant designed the proposal in such a way that the driveway would not inhibit any drainage extensions.

At the close of the hearing, the board made final comments on the fact that, though there is a crosswalk across North Sea Road near the targeted site, Bowden Square does not have sidewalks or a pedestrian crosswalk to the Union Cantina side of the street. With the removal of parking spaces, the board believes that restaurant-goers would utilize the new bank parking lot and walk over from there—which also raised safety concerns.

In 2016, the village and property owners along North Sea Road and nearby Windmill Lane commissioned a study recommending retail uses along that stretch, which is zoned to allow office uses, including banks. The village never took action on the study’s recommended changes of zone.

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By V.Tomanoku (788), southampton on Jan 14, 19 7:25 PM
2 members liked this comment
Most ridiculous thing I've heard all month. I use to live in the upstairs apartment. Preserving it as much as possible? Interior is not that of a bank lay out. Completely contest an already crazy intersection. Nutty idea!
By lursagirl (241), southampton on Jan 14, 19 9:31 PM
1 member liked this comment
Congest not contest
By lursagirl (241), southampton on Jan 14, 19 9:32 PM
Just what the Village needs. Another bank. Can we attach it to a drug store/ real estate company for a tri fecta of redundancy?
By elliot (254), sag harbor on Jan 14, 19 10:20 PM
bitch bitch bitch the usual few
By chief1 (2783), southampton on Jan 14, 19 11:24 PM
The bitcher-in-chief hath spoken...:)
By V.Tomanoku (788), southampton on Jan 15, 19 8:02 AM
1 member liked this comment
HSBC is closing in March, how about taking over that location, Mr New Bank?
By coxie1 (36), southampton on Jan 15, 19 6:51 AM
Historic building, variances, variances?????????
By knitter (1893), Southampton on Jan 16, 19 1:07 PM
M&T Bank also closed down over by Paul’s pizza, how about there? We have so many options, why do they want to destroy another part of our village instead of using a predicting & vacant structure??
By S'hamptonNative (83), Southampton on Jan 18, 19 4:56 PM
This would be a great location to fulfill our "moral" responsibility for providing low wage undocumented immigrants a place to live that is close to the large estates of Southampton and Bridgehampton. Someone please tell Supervisor Schneiderman and his office of 3 high paid civil servants in City Hall about this opportunity for subsidized housing, and it's also close to the free education and free healthcare for these workers. Winning!
By dfree (802), hampton bays on Jan 20, 19 7:26 AM
power tools, home improvements, building supplies, Eastern Long Island