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Hamptons Life

Mar 20, 2016 10:35 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Former Bank Building Languishes In Westhampton Beach

The old bank building at the corner of Main Street and Mitchell Road in Westhampton Beach has been vacant for at least three years. GREG WEHNER
Mar 20, 2016 6:26 PM

White paint is chipping off a commercial building on Main Street in Westhampton Beach. An overturned tree exhibits publicly that the property is vacant, with nobody to take care of it.

The former bank and office space boasts nearly 8,000 square feet of space over two floors. But this property at 43 Main Street, which is being marketed for $2.2 million, has been vacant more than three years.

Lawrence Citarelli, the principal of Westhampton Beach-based First Hampton International Realty, who’s had the listing for about three months, said he thinks it sits on a prime spot in the village’s downtown.

“That piece of property, without a shadow of a doubt, is the southwest anchor of Main Street,” said Mr. Citarelli. The building would require someone to come in and completely gut and renovate it, he said, but he is is confident someone will buy the property.

That confidence is rooted in projects that Westhampton Beach Village Mayor Maria Moore and the other four Village Board members are working on to improve the village, including possibly creating a sewer district on its Main Street. “Someone with the right vision and right means should be grabbing up an asset such as this if they believe the sewage and other stuff is coming in,” Mr. Citarelli said. “It’s going to be someone with the foresight that buys an asset like this.”

The property hasn’t operated as a full-scale bank for years, most recently housing a Capital One ATM, with the upstairs rented out for real estate offices until three or four years ago. The current business zoning for 43 Main Street would allow such uses as a day care facility, a library or museum, a performing arts facility, or a municipal office or government building, as well as a variety of “dry” retail uses. However, Ms. Moore said, if a sewer district is approved, that could completely change the game, allowing additional uses such as a restaurant, hotel or health club.

Mr. Citarelli said that in less than three months,10 people have shown an interest, asking what uses would be possible, though none have followed through.

Whoever purchases the building is going to have a big job ahead. According to Westhampton Beach Village Building and Zoning Administrator Paul Houlihan, the vacant structure is very drafty and lacks insulation.

“It’s this big, old worn-out building,” Mr. Houlihan said of the 1955 building, which Southampton Town records indicate was refurbished in 1975. “It’s tough to do anything with, and expensive to heat.”

According to Southampton Town records, Alex Demetriades purchased the building from North Fork Bank in 1998 for $785,000. Mr. Demetriades owned a property at 22 Windmill Lane in Southampton Village that sat vacant while officials threatened to make him clean it up, turning down an offer of a public purchase before selling that property in 2014. In 2012, Westhampton Beach village officials asked him to get rid of dumpsters at 43 Main, which people were using even though the building was vacant.

Mr. Demetriades could not be reached for comment about the property in Westhampton Beach, and Paul Spitz, the property manager, said he could not speak about its future use per the owner’s instruction.

Many dilapidated properties have been targets on Ms. Moore’s agenda to beautify the Village of Westhampton Beach. One of them sits on the corner of Library Avenue and Main Street, where Ms. Moore struck a deal with the owner, Barry Bernstein, to clear debris and create a park.

Ms. Moore said she had contacted Mr. Spitz at the end of last summer to find out what the plans are for the former bank building. “According to Mr. Spitz, the owner has no intention of selling for less than his current asking price, but may be open to rental uses,” Ms. Moore said in an email. “Mr. Spitz indicated to me that he has something in mind, but could not reveal it at the time.”

No plans have been filed with the village to improve the property. When the property was last appraised in 2015, the land was valued at $766,900 and the building at $1.47 million, according to Southampton Town records.

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1. Why not changing the zoning now in anticipation of the sewer agreement? This way the purchaser will be well positioned. As it stands now, the zoning is useless.

2. How do you value a building at $1.5M which is likely a tear down?

3. How are these guys affording the property tax with no revenue?
By Hambone (510), New York on Mar 21, 16 9:39 PM
Hambone- lets "anticipate" who's paying for the sewers before they change any zoning to allow for it. Remember a good $50 to $75 million project the taxpayers will be burdened with if the Feds don't pay for the whole thing. Still can't get that out of our officials. Remember elections approaching.
By realistic (464), westhampton on Mar 22, 16 7:23 AM
"2. How do you value a building at $1.5M which is likely a tear down?"

The article clearly states the owner appraises the building at $2.2 million. Perhaps the tax appraisal should be raised.
By bird (785), Sag Harbor on Mar 22, 16 12:03 PM
Not true.

"land was valued at $766,900 and the building at $1.47 million"
I rounded to $1.5.

The $2.2 is an ask and since he has not received it, it may as well be $2.2 billion
By Hambone (510), New York on Mar 24, 16 7:57 AM
Can't violations be found and the owner fined, to add to his tax bill?
By tenn tom (236), remsenburg on Mar 22, 16 8:39 AM
Stick a fork in Westhampton. It's done. 3 month economy. Short sighted planning.
Nothing to offer.
By The Real World (364), southampton on Mar 23, 16 7:38 AM
8k run & 3 mile walk, Agawam Park, Southampton Rotary Club fundraiser