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Nov 20, 2018 1:20 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Town To Buy CDCH Building As Foreclosure Looms

The former Child Development Center of the Hamptons building.            KYRIL BROMLEY
Nov 20, 2018 1:50 PM

East Hampton Town has resurrected its bid to purchase the former Child Development Center of the Hamptons building—but at a fraction of what it had considered paying a couple of years ago—now that the abandoned facility is being foreclosed on.

The town has reached an agreement with the trustees of the defunct school for students with special needs to purchase the approximately 20,000-square-foot building for $800,000—less than a third of the $2.6 million it was appraised at just two years ago.

Town Attorney Michael Sendlenski told the board that if it purchased the building, the town could issue a request for proposals from nonprofit groups to take over its use, and help the town with the cost of its upkeep.

“This would be a way to amicably settle the bank’s position, the CDCH position and achieve a community [facility] for the town,” Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said. “I think it would be a great asset to the town.”

It’s expected that the building will need at least $200,000 in repairs to bring it back to usable condition, board members said.

The building, which was designed by Bates Masi Architects, has been vacant since the CDCH closed in 2016, and the trustees have struggled to find a buyer or tenant to operate the building. The town owns the underlying property and had given CDCH a 30-year lease, at a cost of just $1, but restricted the use of the building to a school for special needs children.

The town had considered buying it shortly after the school announced it was closing, as the town was exploring options for building a new senior center. A consultant had estimated that it would cost about $2 million to reconfigure the interior of the existing building from classroom space to something more suitable for senior programs, on top of the more than $2 million cost to purchase the building.

In the end the town abandoned the idea in favor of building a new senior center on the same property as the existing one on Springs-Fireplace Road.

Last year, the Town Board also rejected a bid by a for-profit special needs school, Gersh Academy, because it said the no-cost lease for the property would be considered an illegal public gift to a for-profit company.

Mr. Sendlenski told the board that the concern over allowing the bank to foreclose on the property is that the bank could challenge restrictions on the use of the building from the original 30-year lease in court so that it could sell to something other than a school for special needs pupils.

Nobody representing CDCH appeared at the town meeting this week, and attorney Steve Latham, who had represented the former school in the past, did not return a call seeking comment.

The Town Board will vote on December 6 on whether to terminate the original lease with CDCH and purchase the building outright.

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Affordable housing a possibility ?
By wmdwjr (76), east hampton on Nov 21, 18 3:56 PM
If the lease still stipulates it be a special needs school, let's hope the town finally gives the growing autistic population out here the quality programs they deserve!!!!!
By jane rogers (4), sag harbor on Nov 22, 18 1:58 PM
I know the opportunity has past but did the town consider a new lease for the private school that was interested? Can't they end the 30 year lease early?
By Rich Morey (351), East Hampton on Nov 23, 18 12:29 PM