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Feb 13, 2017 10:08 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Developer Will Seek Approval To Expand Basement Of Westhampton Beach Shopping Center

The owners of the new shopping center on Sunset Avenue are hoping to expand the basement of the property. BY ERIN MCKINLEY
Feb 14, 2017 2:29 PM

Two months after being issued a cease-and-desist order, the developer behind a new shopping center on Sunset Avenue in Westhampton Beach will go before the village’s Planning Board seeking approval to legally expand the building’s basement.

After contractors illegally began expanding the size of the former bowling alley’s basement, Sunset West LLC, the developer behind the project, will now request permission from the village to increase the size of the basement by approximately 1,200 square feet, to more than 4,200 square feet. Original approved plans for the 20,000-square-foot building called for only a 3,000-square-foot basement, which is supposed to be used primarily for storage.

The expansion was discovered in early December by Westhampton Beach Building Administrator Paul Houlihan, who issued the stop-work order on the extension but allowed construction to continue on the rest of the building.

Representatives of Sunset West were supposed to go back before the Westhampton Beach Planning Board on February 9, but that meeting was postponed due to snow. They are now expected to make their pitch to the board on Thursday, February 23.

“I think the Planning Board will ask them about the change in the plans,” Mr. Houlihan said. “I think this is something they will be able to accomplish, but, ultimately, the Planning Board makes the final decisions.”

According to John Bennett of Bennett and Read, the Southampton-based attorney representing Sunset West LLC, the developer needs the additional basement space—though he did not explain why contractors did not go back to the village to seek approval for the expansion.

He did note that the matter will not affect the size of the retail shops that will eventually occupy the renovated bowling alley building. Once the initial stage is complete, a 10,000-square-foot CVS Pharmacy will occupy half of the finished building, which will be rounded out with an assortment of smaller retail shops and restaurants.

“It is not an above-ground expansion,” Mr. Bennett said. “It will change nothing you would see with the naked eye.”

The renovations started in November after nearly a decade of planning—work that was delayed due to financial issues. Three buildings will eventually be built on the 1.8-acre property, which extends north to the corner Sunset Avenue and Mill Road. The project will be completed in multiple phases, with the renovation of the bowling alley and landscaping of the entire parcel expected to be completed by early 2018.

The cease-and-desist order was issued by Mr. Houlihan on December 6 warning builder Rocco Lettieri that he must stop work on the larger basement until securing village approval. The applicant filed for the extension on December 21, according to Mr. Houlihan, but it was already too late to be added to the January meeting schedule.

According to Mr. Houlihan, the additional basement space is needed to house various utilities and will also serve as storage. Even with the delay, he noted that, in his opinion, work is progressing at a brisk pace.

“I think it will look great,” he said. “They are moving full speed ahead with it.”

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This is what happens when you give a little, developers think they can just take, take,take.
By tenn tom (231), remsenburg on Feb 14, 17 7:14 AM
If it wasn't for developers taking a chance, you wouldn't be here. Who cares about the basement? The building is coming out nice. At lease they are using their money and not the taxpayers that built the monument across the street.
By The Real World (363), southampton on Feb 14, 17 8:43 AM
1 member liked this comment
That was not taking a chance. It was ignoring what was permitted. Why didn't they just ask for it in the first place.
By tenn tom (231), remsenburg on Feb 14, 17 3:13 PM
Sometimes things are not black and white. Changes can and sometimes need to be made but the process is ridiculous. This is 1200 feet in a basement of a large project. At least they didn't hold up the whole thing and let it sit.
By The Real World (363), southampton on Feb 14, 17 4:20 PM
MISTAKE, BS. Easier to ask for forgiveness, than ask for a variance. Hate this BS happening all over, now it's a financial hardship, BS...
By knitter (1684), Southampton on Feb 15, 17 12:07 AM
1 member liked this comment