by Cyndi Murray | 01/17/2015 12:00 PM
Downtown Riverhead has been touted for years as a place “on the rise,” an up-and-coming magnet drawing both new businesses and new apartments. A 52-unit apartment complex opened on Peconic Avenue in 2010 and 19 more units are set open soon in the former Woolworth building — right next to the renovated Suffolk Theater. Another 48 affordable housing units are slated for West Main Street.
Just across the street from that project, a first-of-its kind business hub is already drawing tenants.
Manhattan-based commercial real estate broker Georgia Malone, president of Georgia Malone & Co. Inc., recently opened Thirty West Main to attract small businesses and entrepreneurs in need of office space by offering a range of work spaces in a sleek and modern environment.
“I was walking through the streets and thought Riverhead is so beautiful,” said Ms. Malone, a Westhampton Beach resident. “I became really interested in the area. I felt it was up and coming.”
To prepare the long-vacant and rundown building for reuse, she spent six months refurbishing its second and third floors. The ground level already houses Riverhead’s longtime music store, Ninow’s, which moved there last year, and other commercial tenants.
The result of the renovations has been an office building with 27 fully furnished small to mid-size units that come complete with hook-ups to phone, Wi-Fi, printing and other essential business services. Rents range from $338 to $2,188 per month for access to a shared workspace or private office — utilities included.
Ms. Malone plans to market the space to law firms because of its proximity to nearby courts, but also said it’s ideal for startups and people working from home who are looking to set up an office.
“The great thing about the building is it can accommodate everyone,” she said. “If you only want to spend X amount of money, you can get something in your price range. You’re not paying for space you don’t want.”
Eric Alexander, director of Vision Long Island, a group that promotes smart growth in downtown areas on Long Island, agreed that the project fills a need far beyond lawyers.
“Small businesses want to be downtown, so, downtown office space works,” he said.
Since the shared workspaces became available for rent in November, potential tenants have taken notice, said agent Ike Israel of Richmond Realty Corp. in Riverhead, who represents the building.
Nine of the 27 units are already occupied.
“The concept is unique and the building is very attractive for people looking for a satellite location, as well as startups or sole practitioner-type businesses,” he said.
Twin brothers Dan and Peter Chekijian recently rented a small office space there for their new business, Twin Forks Beer.
“It was priced right and featured every amenity you could imagine,” Peter Chekijian said. “The phone systems are all integrated. There are executive meeting rooms and kitchen space.”
The brothers — who are currently contract brewing at another brewery — perform their company’s administrative tasks at the office while they search for a brick-and-mortar spot to establish their own brewing facility and tasting room.
“It’s wide with open, airy big windows. You have access to the whole floor. It’s near a couple of good restaurants and all the food smells are great,” Mr. Chekijian said. “You’re near everything. You can jump on the expressway in a couple of minutes.”
Other tenants include a title office, a sales office, a speech pathologist and a company that provides outdoor movies for events, Mr. Israel said.
Ms. Malone and business partner Amir Korangy, publisher of The Real Deal real estate blog, purchased the building for $1.3 million in January 2014. The Riverhead Industrial Development Agency approved the project for $140,000 worth of tax abatements over the next 10 years.
IDA xxecutive director Tracy Stark-James said the office space provides flexibility to help fledgling business start out and also has the potential to bolster downtown Riverhead’s economy across the board.
“Naturally when you fill up vacant space, you are going to bring more foot traffic downtown,” she said. “So you are looking at an economic trickle effect for sure.”