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May 22, 2009 11:15 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Developers will tweak plans for Canoe Place Inn

May 22, 2009 11:15 AM

Colby Herbst has a passion for local history. If asked about the Canoe Place Inn, the Westhampton Beach High School sophomore will emphatically offer details about all the glitz and glamour associated with the Hampton Bays establishment, which, in its heyday, attracted world famous celebrities like Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz and Albert Einstein.

“There is no place like it in Hampton Bays,” the 16-year-old East Quogue resident said during a recent interview.

For that very reason, Colby, who is originally from Hampton Bays, circulated a petition to save the historic 87-year-old structure that overlooks the Shinnecock Canal that its current owners plan to demolish to make way for a $100 million resort complex. The petition, which garnered 223 signatures and was submitted to the Southampton Town Board earlier this year, asks that the town do everything in its power to save the building, which lacks landmark status.

Ideally, Colby said that he would want to see the building renovated and reopened again as an inn and venue hall. Although the crumbling building is in much need of renovation, the teenager said he is certain that, with some effort, it could be restored to its original glory.

“It’s had so much history,” Colby said. “If it used to bring so many famous people, it could still do that.”

But the current owners of the Canoe Place Inn, cousins Gregg and Mitchell Rechler of the Melville-based firm R Squared LLC, have a different vision for their six-acre property, one that calls for the demolition of the building and the construction of 60 two- and three-bedroom condominiums and a large catering hall.

Their latest plan, which has not yet been submitted to Southampton Town, will reduce the number of total units from 75 to about 60, and the height of the main building from four stories to three. “Height was a concern,” Gregg Rechler said over a cup of coffee at the Hampton Bays Diner earlier this week.

The most notable change in the newest plan, which the developers intend to submit to the Planning Board within the next few months, is the addition of a catering hall and restaurant, which, they said, would be reminiscent of an old tavern and would display photos and artifacts from the Canoe Place Inn. Gregg Rechler, who owns a summer home in Water Mill, added that his architects would ensure that the building’s facade was reminiscent of other historic buildings in Southampton Town.

“People in the community can go out for a nice dinner,” said Lloyd Singer, a spokesman for the Rechlers, of the proposed catering hall.

In 2006, the Rechlers, who are also developing the new business park at the Suffolk County-owned Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton, submitted plans to the Planning Board to raze the Canoe Place Inn and build 75 timeshare units in its place. The Hampton Bays property, which is currently zoned for a resort waterfront business, would require a zone change before the developers could move forward with their latest plan.

The Southampton Town Board, the lead agency reviewing the project, issued a positive declaration on the timeshare application in November 2006, meaning that the developers had to pay for a lengthy review to ensure that the project would not have an adverse effect on the environment. That application, however, has been stalled for the past two years due to an ongoing building moratorium enacted by the town targeting a large area of Hampton Bays. That building ban expires in June.

Regardless, the Rechlers said they plan to update their application once the moratorium expires on June 30. After the developers complete the required environmental review, the town will hold a public hearing at which time local residents can voice their opinions on the project. The environmental impact statement cannot be reviewed until the year-long moratorium expires.

The Rechlers said they have taken the past year to meet with Hampton Bays community leaders and consider the hamlet’s needs and wants. They said that the revised application would be a good compromise and that the addition of the catering hall and conference center should quell fears that the historic property would be closed off to local residents.

But Hampton Bays Historical Society members have a different view of the project, which, in the past, has been criticized as too dense for the hamlet.

Richard Casabianca, a director of the Hampton Bays Historical Society, said this week that the demolition of the Canoe Place Inn would be a major loss for the hamlet, regardless of what is constructed in its stead.

“You don’t replace the town’s heritage site with condominiums,” he said. “If this doesn’t matter, I don’t know what does.”

He also wondered how the building could be beyond repair if it still operates as a nightclub in the summer. “How can it be in such bad shape if it’s open to the public,” Mr. Casabianca added.

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This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By benellinova (3), Hillbilly on May 5, 09 8:25 PM
The place is truly a dump - - a fire trap. I bet it would fall apart if you tried to move it.
By Robert I Ross (250), Hampton Bays on May 5, 09 9:45 PM
To the ladies and gentlemen of the Hampton Bays Historical Society:It has always been in the best interest to the survival of our towns to keep the historical preservation-Thank-You. Please continue your fight for the beautiful communities we live in and to ensure enjoyment for all of our beautiful Hamptons.
The Rechlers protest they will bring something better? (only short term $$ for themselves---then we are all left with "their" (how did Ross and INS put it??) trash. The majority of the ...more
By UNITED states CITIZEN (207), SOUTHAMPTON on May 6, 09 12:43 PM
INS hit the nail on the head ! " Not only is it a dump and fire trap, it attracts the most undesirable clientele."

Raze that place and put it in a dumpster !
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on May 6, 09 6:36 PM
Each time there is a discussion on the Inn there is someone who says the place attracts undesirables, or we don't need another bar. This is absolutely true! But, the intent is not to have another bar, nor to leave the building in disrepair, but to restore it to a fine catering hall. Why does this not come through? Reading the article it is clear that the community does not want to preserve a bar room.

As for it being a fire trap, I would like to think that the town officials would prevent ...more
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on May 6, 09 7:03 PM
Why don't the Rechlers get going on the Gabreski Airport project instead of a resort in Hampton Bays?
By Bob Whyte (48), Hampton Bays on May 7, 09 6:38 AM
Is the Gabreski Airport project the same as Levy's project at Gabreski???
Damn politicians! They need to get real jobs instead of screwing up our economy and resources out here!
By UNITED states CITIZEN (207), SOUTHAMPTON on May 7, 09 8:58 AM
Take a picture to preserve-then rip the place down, or burn it. Do something.
By Lefty46 (56), Westhampton on May 7, 09 1:07 PM
Typical Leftist-Lefty46....instead of true preservation -you tear it down and use more $$ and resourses to do it!!! Then you have the gaul to say you are spear-heading the "fight against global warming".
By UNITED states CITIZEN (207), SOUTHAMPTON on May 8, 09 10:40 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By ocean27 (21), Southampton on May 8, 09 12:31 PM
I am sure in earlier times some Romans thought the Coliseum should be demolished. Thank goodness some "preservationists" had the foresight to save it!! Years from now the history of the Canoe Place Inn will be even more important. See the link below for the wonderful article by Anne Surchin (Southampton Press/Residence 3-5-09):

By ocean27 (21), Southampton on May 8, 09 12:52 PM
I think the Town should put up money to buy the property. Instead of using the 3 million to rent trailers for the new justice court complex, renovate CPI and put it in there. And since the CPF office, Nutrition Center/Town Clerk Annex, and Parks office are already in Hampton Bays, put them in CPI. CPI could be the new Town Hall annex, rather than building a new complex in the future on Jackson Ave. Combine all these offices already in Hampton Bays into one central location.
Or better yet use ...more
By ridiculous (214), hampton bays on May 8, 09 2:47 PM
This Inn was built to last and it has done so in the face of neglect. There is no reason that developers could not use this building in their new construction. A fine example of an old building being made new is the Bulls Head inn project in Bridgehampton. This building could be a real asset to Hampton Bays and the Town of Southampton.

Please contact the Town and encourage them to work with the developers to preserve this structure!
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on May 8, 09 8:53 PM
I seem to be reading a different story than you. Who said the Town should purchase this? Where did you read that fable? For the record, I also haven't heard anyone ask to save a bar or "move" it.

I don't follow your reasoning. Yes, I well know what this Town looked like years ago. I agree there was much to preserve which was lost. So wouldn't that mean we should preserve what is left, or do we continue to be shortsighted and not Preserve anything. Just because it wasn't "fashionable ...more
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on May 9, 09 6:43 AM
bb- I wholeheartedly agree with you!!! What naysayers call "delusion", proactivists call "vision"! We should use foresight instead of hindsight! I believe that we need to protect our past as we move into the future so that we don't lose anymore of our precious landmarks. !!!
By ocean27 (21), Southampton on May 9, 09 7:51 AM
Repeatedly we hear complaints of all that we've lost and rightfully so. Yet, when the opportunity arises to actually save one of our landmarks the critics can't see that history is repeating itself and they are allowing that to happen. We only get one chance to make the right decision - even if on the face of it, it does not look like the easy decision.

For Hampton Bays, this is one of their last chances at preserving something wonderful.
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on May 9, 09 8:01 AM
The time to start is NOW!!!!!! In the years to come, the community can look back and know that they did something that really mattered --preserved the past for future generations. The Canoe Place Inn is "one-of-a-kind"--a place that makes Hampton Bays unique.
By ocean27 (21), Southampton on May 9, 09 8:13 AM
If not now, when?
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on May 9, 09 8:36 AM
INS you should really listen to yourself!
By UNITED states CITIZEN (207), SOUTHAMPTON on May 10, 09 7:30 AM
why not let the shinnecocks turn it into a casino?
By davidf (325), hampton bays on May 10, 09 9:14 AM
INS there is no property 'right' to a Planned Development District. It is a zoning possibility that only becomes 'real' if there is a negotiated agreement between the town and an applicant. AND there has to be a Public Benefit!!! It is understood that historic preservation is a community benefit. 60 condominium units a benefit to our community? Not so much.

Perhaps you should do a bit more reading. Again, no where did I see anyone asking them to "scrap the whole plan". The hope is ...more
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on May 10, 09 11:21 AM
INS- Maybe YOU should read the article!! The "positive declaration" was NOT for APPROVAL of the project-it was for requiring an Environmental Impact Study. The article states that "The Hampton Bays property....would require a zone change...". The project was NOT approved by the Town Board and is NOT "well within the Code". Before responding YOU should "read the article not just the comments it will save you from looking Silly!" If you are really interested in this project, you should learn the ...more
By ocean27 (21), Southampton on May 10, 09 11:47 AM
Is restoration more expensive when you take into consideration the large tax breaks that are given? In the end, would a historic building reap more profit because it would attract more people? These should be considerations. Anyone can building a new structure. There are few old structures remaining.

Yes, timeshares are few and far between. It is an idea that never really took off on the east end. There is a reason for that. Most of the people who vacation here want to do so while ...more
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on May 10, 09 4:21 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By ocean27 (21), Southampton on May 10, 09 11:49 PM
INS....yes i live in Hampton Bays and yes my assessment went up 190k.
My point in my post was that the Town has all these individual offices in Hampton Bays. The Town pays rent on the Town Clerk Annex/Nutrition Center and is renting trailers from Cassone for the new Justice Court. Rent is a waste of taxpayers money while a permanent solution is found. It is part of a long term paln to build a Town Hall annex in Hampton Bays. Why can't it take advantage of CPI?
Of course this will not happen ...more
By ridiculous (214), hampton bays on May 11, 09 10:19 AM
I cant wait until they start building, its about time someone who has the insight and can put up the money to make this area more attractive.

By Peterk (5), shinnecock on May 11, 09 2:13 PM
4 story condominums - don't get much more attractive than that!
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on May 11, 09 3:07 PM
I believe renovating/restoring the Canoe Place Inn is certainly preferable to a new large CONDO complex. The interesting history of the CPI is availabe on the website for the Hampton Bays Historical Society. Really worth reading!!

By ocean27 (21), Southampton on May 11, 09 6:27 PM
i think that they should move the building. They move everything and anything around here. If they can move a big duck and mega mansion, even historical ones that are partially fallen down, i think they can easily move this. just check out these guys www.dawnhousemovers.com
By benellinova (3), Hillbilly on May 12, 09 7:36 PM
actually it was davis building movers moved both the duck and several mega mansions. www.davisbuildingmovers.com.... the owner's a 4th generation mover from long island!
By dianerocks (2), westhampton beach on Apr 9, 10 6:27 PM
everyone who has a plan for someone else's property please list your credit card number and expiration date. We will nedd you all to "chip in" for the $6 million price tag. Get over it, the building is not the same as the canoe place inn of yesteryear. Remember all the naysayers about the king kullen shopping center.....10 years for Dr. Ariola to get a supermarket built???? There is nothing wrong with progress and quite frankly we hold the cards as to the way a project will ultimately look. ...more
By eastender09 (29), southampton on May 12, 09 7:59 PM
You bring up some good points eastender09, but all of those things can be accomplished without destroying the Inn. The Rechlers are building a "catering hall" that looks like the Inn. Intentionally designed to look like the Inn - in case you missed the sketch on this website. What difference does it make to them if their money is spent on building a new Inn or restoring an old Inn? and making a positive mark on our hamlet. The tax benefits from Preservation go a long way to closing any difference ...more
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on May 12, 09 9:38 PM
if you know anything about contruction and renovation, new construction is less expensive than renovation overall. Imagine rewiring, re-insulating, pouring new footings, trying to retro-fit for modern hvac, in addition to the energy efficiency of modern building products. They may be building a catering hall but it will also be a 60 unit residential project. The diference is they may chose not to do it! Surely the new building would be rated alot higher in value for tax purposes. They are not ...more
By eastender09 (29), southampton on May 12, 09 11:44 PM
Quote from article : "Rather than refer to the condos as timeshares, the Rechlers said that the future property owners would technically own one-eighth of the deed to a single condominium...."

eastender09: So why do you write "They are not proposing condo's"????? The developers call them CONDOS?

I believe including a renovated Canoe Place Inn as part of the project would certainly make it more "attractive" to prospective buyers AND Hampton Bays!!
By ocean27 (21), Southampton on May 13, 09 12:32 AM
"They may be building a catering hall but it will also be a 60 unit residential project. The diference is they may chose not to do it!"

Exactly! They are choosing not to do it! In order to get the concessions from the town to build exactly what they want they need to show a benefit to the community. Preserving the Inn would be a benefit to the community.

Yes, I realize that there is a difference in costs. But as I have stated, the tax benefits are plentiful to preserve rather ...more
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on May 13, 09 6:35 AM
Its a dump tear it down and the structure next to it and across the street.
By longislander40 (37), hampton bays on Aug 6, 10 11:34 AM