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Apr 13, 2011 12:38 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

CPI Proposal Starts Official Review

Apr 13, 2011 12:38 PM

The plans for the refurbishment and expansion of the Canoe Place Inn in Hampton Bays—along with a sprawling residential complex on the Shinnecock Canal—got a public boost last week from residents who applauded the efforts to save the historic CPI building.

One of the project’s developers, Gregg Rechler, along with a team of consultants and town planners at a Town Board work session on Friday, presented the board with its first official look at the proposed development. The plan would renovate the CPI building into a hotel and dining facility housing both catered private events and a public restaurant. Across the canal, on the property that now hosts two restaurants, a house and a fishing tackle shop, the developers would build 40 townhouses, accompanied by a 20-slip private marina.

Several residents who had blasted Mr. Rechler and his partner and cousin Mitchell Rechler’s original plans to tear down the CPI building to make way for a housing development said last week the new proposal is better for the Hampton Bays community and could be an important economic boost.

“It’s a monstrosity the way that it is currently,” said Susan Von Freddi, president of the Hampton Bays Beautification Association. “It’s in such horrific condition, I didn’t think anyone could ever restore it. I am very impressed—this will be very important to the vibrancy of the community. We’re a year-round community, and this is a year-round plan.”

Other former opponents of previous proposals advised Town Board members—who will ultimately have to approve a planned development district for the CPI and accompanying property if the development is to proceed—to be careful that details like septic systems and assurances of open space preservation and public access are secured. Hampton Bays Civic Association member Eve Houlihan told the Town Board that money to be contributed by the developer for the town to preserve open space elsewhere in Hampton Bays, one of the critical public benefit components of the PDD process, should be equivalent to the amount of development being proposed. She also said the board should demand that the septic systems proposed for the property, which will be placed on another parcel the Rechlers own on the east side of North Road in Shinnecock Hills, be substantially upgraded.

Some still found the project too ambitious. Town Board member Bridget Fleming sparred briefly with Mr. Rechler over the historic nature of the CPI building, which has housed a nightclub for the last two decades. While he acknowledged that the building had historic roots and that the property held an important place in the history of Hampton Bays, he said he did not think the building could be considered a historic landmark since it had been so significantly altered from what was rebuilt after a fire in 1923.

“This is a dearly beloved piece of architecture,” Ms. Fleming responded.

Mr. Rechler’s architect, Scott Pollack, supported his client’s contention that the building’s numerous alterations over the years have distorted its historic nature. He noted that the feature most residents have pointed to as one of the most unique architectural features, a rotunda-like room known as the birdcage, was not even part of the original structure.

“The property is historic, yes,” Mr. Pollack said. “But the building itself is a bit of a rabbit hole.”

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Trading the CPI repair job for 40 more town houses or condos along side the Shinnecock Canal is a bad deal for Hampton Bays. The zoning should not be changed by this phony PDD law. The Tide Runners and One North restaurants are worth more to the people of the Hamptons than 40 new town houses whose kitchens, bathrooms and laundries will polute the Shinnecock Canal and Peconic Bay and Shinnecock Bay. When will Councilman Jim Malone start to stand up for the people in Hampton Bays instead of the interest ...more
By Ernie (85), Hampton Bays on Apr 14, 11 3:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
Please burn CPI down and put the residents out of their misery.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Apr 20, 11 3:23 PM