The proposed demolition of a retail courtyard along Jobs Lane to make way for a pair of new commercial buildings in Southampton Village has worked its way through the Planning Board.
The new buildings would have twice the square footage as the existing cluster of retail buildings that are nestled in the courtyard between 38 and 42 Jobs Lane.
The board is weighing a lot line modification application to combine two of the three lots that make up the property and whether to approve developer East End Holding LLC’s site plan. A continuation of a public hearing is slated for discussion at a work session at 5 p.m. on Monday, July 30.
The two-story indoor mall would house five retail shops, totaling 9,500 square feet, and could be accessed from three storefronts in the front and the rear of the property. As it is now, the courtyard is not accessible from the municipal parking lot in the back.
Mayor Michael Irving had touted the plan in 2017, saying that the storefront configuration would attract better foot traffic to the stores on Jobs Lane than the courtyard layout.
Valerie Revere, who owns a woman’s clothing store, Twist, next door, said she wasn’t aware of any plan to develop the neighboring property, despite a notice of a public hearing for the site plan slated for July 2 posted near the courtyard’s entrance.
“Every time things like this happen, it breaks down the character of the village,” Ms. Revere said. “Again, I haven’t seen any plans for this, but it sounds as though it is becoming more generic, which is not a good thing for the village.”
She noted that she now plans to keep a watchful eye on the project.
“I have been here a long time,” she said, “and to see so many businesses go in and out, I think that this won’t help to generate more foot traffic flow. I think a better use of space will be to make a cafe setting to utilize a quaint courtyard to attract people back there, rather than more retail shops.
“I don’t think building a new space is going to attract people in. All of the pop-ups coming in and corporations coming in—it just deteriorates the village to become so commercialized.”
Since the initial filing of the plan last July, a few storefronts in the courtyard have been left vacant. Summer tenant Pop Up Collective and Random Acts of Creativity, as well as full-timers Sam Edelman, Sea Green Designs and Vilebrequin are open this summer. It’s unclear what will happen to these businesses during the construction process if the project moves forward.
The Planning Board left a public hearing open at a work session on July 2 to allow neighboring retailers and village residents additional time to view the site plans.
“This is big—both wide and deep,” Alan McFarland, the board’s chairman, said of the proposed construction.
Susan Madonia, of Ann Madonia Antiques, received a notice in the mail in late June about a lot line modification that she worried would affect her property. Ann Madonia Antiques has operated next door to the courtyard since 1990.
“To me, [the plans] are quite extensive,” she said. “I have a garden in the back. It’s a very intimate space. It’s like home for me. I am there every day.
“I know that my neighbor needs to change and upgrade, so I was trusting the board that it would be beautiful,” she said. “But, at this point, there seems to be a lot going on, and I would like to have my space to review—it’s all so overwhelming to me. I didn’t realize the extent.”
“It’s the greediest thing I have ever seen—maybe not in this village, but it’s pretty at the top,” said Evelyn Konrad, a Rosko Place resident who is a vocal critic of village government. “It is the destruction of Jobs Lane.”
The developer’s attorney, Mary Jane Asato, said during the hearing that the owner is prepared to put in a row of evergreens at the edge of the property to screen the building. Nevertheless, the discussion was adjourned to allow the public more time to review the site plan.
Ms. Asato and her partners at Bourke Flanagan & Asato in Southampton could not be reached for additional comment this week.
Mr. McFarland had acknowledged that development seems to be a reoccurring issue in that area of the village. “It would be awfully nice to have people happier than sadder,” he said.
The village is also waiting on the Suffolk County Department of Public Works to finish its review of the accessibility of the storefronts. The plan would add six additional parking spaces, including parking spaces for people with disabilities. The plan also includes installing an advanced sanitary system that would be an upgrade from the current system that dates back to the 1970s.
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