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Dec 14, 2011 8:58 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Bulova Construction Impacts Bother Business Owners

Dec 14, 2011 10:01 AM

Despite years of detailed review of plans for the renovation of the former Bulova Watchcase Factory, some neighbors say they were never aware that portions of three streets adjacent to the old factory would be closed during the approximately two-year construction project.

A handful of people who live or own businesses near the 4-acre Bulova site, where work has gotten under way in the past two weeks, told the Sag Harbor Village Board on Tuesday that they worry that fencing installed down the middle of two streets, and rumors that a third roadway will be partially closed, will threaten their ability to do business or to access their homes.

“Did you consider the impact on small businesses?” Sharone Einhorn, who owns a nearby antiques store, asked board members. “Our customers are unable to find parking since you closed Sage Street. If that’s what it’s like in December, nobody is going to come to Sag Harbor in the summer.”

But the impact of the project will probably be muted in the summer, thanks to the tiny village’s already chronic parking shortages, Sag Harbor Village Mayor Brian Gilbride quipped. “Do you honestly think there is parking in the summer?” he grumbled in response. “There is difficulty with parking, no question. There are spots on Church Street.”

After nearly two years of review before the village’s Planning Board and nearly another two years when the plan sat dormant after financing agreements for the plan fell apart, the renovation of the century-old building finally began last month. When completed sometime in 2013, the project will have transformed the former watch factory into 65 luxury condominiums and townhouses. The developers, Cape Advisers, say the project is going to cost them $60 million to complete.

Since construction work began, chain-link fencing has been installed down the middle of Sage Street, which runs along the southern boundary of the property, and Church Street, which runs the length of the property’s western boundary. Both roads have been made one-way. The mayor said the fencing was put in place as a safety precaution as the work crews dismantle the interior walls and refurbish the building’s brick facade. He said the concern is that falling bricks and debris could injure people or damage cars along the narrow roads just feet from the building’s walls.

Mayor Gilbride acknowledged that he had heard a rumor that the construction would eventually require the partial closing of Washington Street, which has four parking spaces just off Main Street and leads from the main shopping district to one of the village’s public parking lots. The intersection of Washington Street and Route 114 sits directly at the foot of the factory building’s northeast corner, where the crumbling facade has already necessitated the draping of netting around the building and the installation of scaffolding to protect the sidewalk below.

If the street were to close, it could be a painful blow to businesses at the south end of the village, the business owners said. “It’s been a hard 24 months—every little detail makes a difference,” said Susan Youngblood, who owns a store on Madison Street at the southern end of Main Street. “If Washington Street and Sage Street could stay open, it would make such a difference.”

The mayor said he doesn’t believe the closure of Sage Street can be abandoned until the construction of the townhouse units at that end of the property are completed. He said he has received no firm information about whether Washington Street would have to be closed.

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Well it looks like and sounds like another boondoggle, fairy tale, to me. "65 luxury condos and town houses", even the lay person can see, hear and feel the trouble coming with this half ass project. Not enough parking, contaminated building site, on and on .... and away we go...... oh yea.... "the Mayor said..." I say stop this project now and hire an independent company to do a major league impact study.
By rrc1049 (63), Bridgehampton on Dec 14, 11 1:33 PM
Why we didn't help fund a small "start up" facility for a burgeoing energy need, I will never know.

You could easily have turned that site into a non-polluting, carbon neutral, photoalgal biodiesel facility, and brought a few jobs to the area. Harbor, shipping, wood alcohol, nope it'd never work.

Nah, this way is better...
Dec 14, 11 11:40 PM appended by Mr. Z
BTW, local soap makers, that means cheap glycerine!!!
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Dec 14, 11 11:40 PM