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May 21, 2018 11:44 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Plan To Demo Old Diner For Medical Offices In Riverside Steadily Moving Forward

The old diner at 20 Riverleigh Avenue in Riverside might be torn down by the end of June for the construction of medical offices. JD ALLEN
May 21, 2018 11:44 AM

Sparked by community activists, Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst’s administration in 2015 opted to rezone Riverside in an effort to revitalize the hamlet.

Now, a highly visible part of that undertaking—a plan to demolish the old diner building on 20 Riverleigh Avenue, and in its place construct an 8,000-square-foot, two-story building for medical offices designed for primary care—is moving forward.

Paul Pawlowski is the property owner and developer for 20 Riverleigh LLC.

“It is a nice site. The property is centrally located between the forks. We like the visibility around the [traffic] circle,” Mr. Pawlowski said. “There has been real effort made by the Town of Southampton to revitalize the area. There is a lot of positive energy in the area.”

Mr. Pawlowski’s site plan proposal was heard during a Southampton Town Planning Board public meeting on May 10. The proposal has already completed its pre-submission and pre-site plan paperwork, and has a dark sky compliant lighting plan as well as approved drainage and septic system plans.

“A code compliant HVAC system, obviously handicap-accessible elevators and things of that nature, and backup generators and certain electrical requirements to keep the building running,” he said.

He said he cannot detail who will occupy the medical offices yet, but there are two serious offers on the table for physicians connected to large private practices and hospitals in the region.

The undisclosed cost of the diner’s demolition and future build of the medical offices will be aided by $500,000 in state grant funding. The town, which garnered the Restore New York Communities Initiative grant, will wait until plans are finalized before allocating money. The funding is designed for two residential apartments on site.

The apartments will be on the second floor facing Riverleigh Avenue over a common space lobby.

From the beginning, the project has been guided by the community, Mr. Pawlowski said.

“The developer came to the community for approval before going to government, which is a rare case,” said Vincent Taldone, chair of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association’s Economic Development Committee. “And [the public] was there from the beginning, which is why you see all of this support.”

Siris Barrios, of Riverside Rediscovered, has worked with the developer and the Town of Southampton for the last three years to revitalize the neighborhood.

“Based on what we have been able to see … everyone is really excited,” she said. “It’s going to change the face of that circle.”

Ms. Barrios acknowledged the importance of Riverhead’s initiative to update the traffic circle with sidewalks, which should be completed before the winter. With a walkable neighborhood on the horizon, she said she can already see the difference development will make for visitors and residents. For instance, there’s a coffee shop that may get more customers having a medical office nearby.

Some residents, like Angela Huneault of Flanders, are just astonished to see a company that actually wants to move into the neighborhood.

“It’s nice to see someone actually want to [build] up and be here,” Ms. Huneault said.

The town, in 2015, created an overlay zoning district designed to attract new businesses and create walkable resident-friendly neighborhoods. However, the site of the medical building is actually outside that district and has its original zoning.

But Mr. Taldone said the developer has sought to comply with the revitalization efforts anyway, from the style of the building to bringing the development closer to the sidewalk to create a walkable environment.

There’s also a plan to install a clock tower landmark welcoming visitors to Riverside.

Mr. Taldone said it will be the first renovated or new building on the traffic circle in decades, and it couldn’t be a better site for a medical building.

“We were hoping for a use that would not be the busiest during peak times of the usage at the traffic circle, like a restaurant, which is busy at night, lunch hours, morning for breakfast—and this is perfect,” Mr. Taldone said, holding a letter by FRNCA’s president, Ron Fisher, which echoed his support.

The town planning 10-day comment period ends May 20. The developer expects the project to break ground in the next two months, and finished before the end of the year.

“It’s great to see a project like this go up in Flanders-Riverside. The community needs it. They shouldn’t feel forgotten about.” Planning Board member Robin Long said.

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Couldn't happen soon enough. And finish the damn circle already!
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on May 21, 18 3:12 PM
I'm still holding out for an Olive Garden or IHOP.
By Pacman (273), Southampton on May 21, 18 3:13 PM
1 member liked this comment
Think IHOP's coming to rt. 58
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on May 22, 18 11:51 AM
that's exactly what we need. Another medical building.
By bmr80 (35), east quogue on May 21, 18 6:15 PM
Medical office? Too many!! I guess better than nail salon
By Win sky (58), Southampton on May 22, 18 8:07 AM