“This is a very exciting time in downtown Riverhead,” Supervisor Sean Walter said in an interview. “We’re on fire downtown.”
There are projects in the pipeline all along Main Street.
From 30 West Main St., where interior demolition has begun on a Manhattan-based developer’s new shared office space project, to a bidding war, of sorts, between two developers interested in the same building on the corner of McDermott Avenue, there is a lot of activity and interest in downtown properties.
“There’s been a lot of interest — definitely a lot of positive things are happening,” said Isaac Israel of Richmond Realty, the commercial real estate company that brokered the sale of the 30 W. Main St. property. “Each thing helps build momentum for downtown,” Israel said.
Here’s a rundown from west to east:
The owner of the Simple Table, a new 40-seat restaurant planned for West Main Street just east of Osborn Avenue, says ground-breaking on-site work there should begin within a month. Owner Tom Mielnicki, who got site plan approval in December after about a year of dealing with state, county and town agencies, said he’s planning to file his building permit application this week.
The restaurant will offer an “everything fresh, farm-to-table menu,” Mielnicki said. He has decided to concentrate on breakfast and lunch, he said. “I believe we can find our niche there, with the county center and the courts all around us.”
Shared office space totaling 8,000 square feet on the upper two floors of 30 W. Main St. is being constructed by NYC developer Georgia Malone. The shared space idea is “revolutionizing office buildings” in New York and other cities, Malone told RiverheadLOCAL in November; small- to mid-sized units for rent that come with telephone, wifi, printing and other hookups with common lounge and eating areas.
Bridgehampton National Bank is about to open a loan office on the ground floor of Summerwind Square, next door to Joe’s Garage which opened its doors to the public a week ago. The bank’s loan officers are available by appointment only, said BNB vice president and director of marketing Claudia Pilato, but there will be a 24/7 ATM on premise.
A gourmet pizza shop is planned for the storefront next to Robert James Salon, in space previously occupied by the salon. Robert James co-owner Ray Pickersgill said the salon decided it did not need as much space as it had leased from building owner Riverhead Enterprises, so the space was subdivided.
Riverhead architect Jim DeLuca said he’s been working on drawings and permits for the gourmet pizzeria since January.
“It’s a design-your-own pizza place,” DeLuca said.
The building inhabited by the popular Athens Grill and a Mexican grocery store until a devastating fire last June 28, will soon be repaired, renovated and ready for occupancy, said building owner and restaurateur John Mantzapoulos. He said he was frustrated by how slow the insurance claim processing has been. Mantzapoulos plans to open “a neighborhood Mediterranean grill” he’s calling Mazi, the Greek word for “together.”
The storefront next door to Mazi will be occupied by a frozen yogurt shop. Miyoshi Cambra and James Foster plan to open the Sweet Tart Frozen Yogurt Cafe there this spring.
“It won’t be a typical frozen yogurt shop,” Foster said. “There won’t be bright neon lights and loud colors.”
The yogurt shop will be self-serve, offering both frozen and fresh yogurt, with an assortment of toppings — everything from candies and goodies to cereal and fresh fruit, Foster said.
The couple grew up in Riverhead and recently bought a house downtown. They have three young children.
“I’m looking forward to Riverhead being what it was when I was a kid,” Foster said. “We’re both excited to be part of what’s going on here now.”
That sentiment was echoed by Christiana Bitonti, artistic director of Peconic Ballet Theatre, which is planning an expansion into the adjacent storefront to the east, 73 Main St. — the former home of what is now the Blue Collection across the street.
“We’re so thrilled to be a part of everything going on in downtown Riverhead,” Bitonti said.
Peconic Ballet Theatre opened in January 2013. It will open a second studio and a dance wear store in the new space, she said.
“We have about four classes per night and classes all day on Saturday. They are all full,” Bitondi said.
Peconic Ballet Theatre will take occupancy of the space next store May 15, Bitondi said. The space is currently — temporarily — occupied by Weight Watchers, which is currently negotiating for another space downtown. The international publicly traded company is rumored to be in negotiations with Woolworth Revitalization developer Michael Butler for one of the ground floor commercial spaces being developed at the former five-and-ten site. A Goldberg’s Bagels is leasing one of the other spots.
Butler would not confirm or deny whether he is negotiating with Weight Watchers. The manager of Weight Watchers, which moved to 73 Main St. from Route 58 this winter, would only say that the company is delighted to be downtown.
Butler’s Woolworth site will be home to Maximus Health and Fitness Center, which will open this spring, according to Maximus manager Gary Cotugno.
The health club is now putting the finishing touches on interior renovations, Cotugno said. This winter’s harsh weather has delayed the developer’s ability to complete utility hookups, Cotugno said.
The new health club should be opening in April, he said.
The Riverhead Farmers’ Market, located in one of the former Swezey’s buildings on the south side of East Main Street has been drawing a crowd every Saturday since its debut Feb. 1.
The market has sparked renewed interest in downtown Riverhead, because it’s drawn such an influx of people downtown, according to Riverhead Business Improvement District Management Association executive director Raymond Pickersgill.
“We’ve had people coming in who left interested in buying or renting properties downtown,” Pickersgill said.
Cody’s BBQ manager Vic Prusinowski, who also works as a permit expediter in Riverhead, agreed.
“We’ve had plenty of people walk into Cody’s asking if the building is for sale,” Prusinowski said. “There are people out there walking around looking for buildings to buy.”
Asked if Cody’s was for sale, Prusinowski replied, “Everything has a price.” It’s nice to have suitors, he said,
The vacant former McCabe’s/Dinosaur Walk Museum currently site has two suitors, said Prusinowski, who said he represents the owner.
One is a group of developers looking to assemble parcels in that vicinity for a mixed use project involving retail shops and apartments, he said. The other is a NYC investment banker who has a second home in Westhampton. A Westhampton real estate broker has had the building listed for years, according to Prusinowski. The prospective purchaser would hold the property for investment, renovate the building and lease it, he said.
“Whoever comes to the finish line first will get the building,” Prusinowski predicted.
“There’s definitely a lot interest in a lot of properties in downtown Riverhead right now,” said Prusinowski, who is a former Riverhead Town Councilman.
“That’s exactly where you’d want the town to be.”