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Mar 5, 2013 9:45 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Village Community Members Supportive Of Citarella, Concerned About Parking

Mar 5, 2013 4:43 PM

An application to convert the “mini-mall” at 20 and 22 Hampton Road in Southampton Village into a market—with Citarella poised to take over the space—drew a large crowd of business and property owners and residents to a Planning Board public hearing on Monday.

Many who spoke were concerned about the lack of parking available in the municipal parking lot behind the Hampton Road shops. Some decried the idea of placing a high-traffic food store where there is little parking. And others, while supportive of the application, called for some kind of plan to solve the parking problem that might be exacerbated in the summer.

In November, Elka LLC., which is owned by Arturo Quiros, submitted a site plan application to the Village Planning Board for approval of interior alterations to 20 and 22 Hampton Road. Because a market is a permitted use under current zoning—the building housed an A&P grocery store years ago—the proposal would not require a change of use variance. The building is currently 11,451 square feet of retail space on the first floor and 1,777 square feet of non-medical office space upstairs; 20 Hampton Road is a one-story building and 22 Hampton Road is a two-story building. They are joined by a long hallway, which is why it’s been dubbed a mini-mall.

The owner would transform the buildings into a single use by removing walls and reconfiguring the space to accommodate a market. An upgraded septic system and new storm water basin behind China Garden are also a part of the site plan.

If the plans are OK’d, Elka LLC would be able to prepare the buildings for Citarella.

Although parking is a big issue to those who spoke at the public hearing on Monday, no additional parking is required because the proposed interior changes do not require a change of use variance and will not increase the square footage of the building—“not by one square foot,” as John Bennett, the attorney representing Elka LLC and the proprietors of Citarella, put it.

Still, many residents and business owners said the parking lot is already hitting about 80 percent capacity during the winter months and can get only more crowded, especially since some drivers don’t adhere to various parking limits within the lot, and some Southampton School staff members park there during the school day.

There are approximately 100 spaces in the parking lot, according to Village Highway Department Superintendent Gary Goleski. Most teachers who used to park in the lot have moved to a school parking lot where 40 spaces were recently added, he said.

Keith Davis, the owner of the Golden Pear Cafe, said he opposes the proposed market in Southampton and argued that a Citarella on Hampton Road would mean fitting a big use into a small space.

“In my opinion, this is a classic case of trying to pack 10 pounds of dung into a 5-pound bag—it’s just too small,” Mr. Davis said. “[On Monday morning], I counted two vacant parking spaces out of the entire parking lot and Hampton Road. I can’t imagine what May through September would be like on Hampton Road and in that back parking lot.”

Mr. Davis also pointed out that the Bridgehampton Citarella on Montauk Highway accommodates the activity going on there, but the proposed Southampton Citarella would not because of the lack of space for delivery trucks, and employee and customer parking. Mr. Bennett maintained that the site plan has a “more than adequate radius” to get a box truck in and out of the parking lot, and the applicant has agreed to the condition that only box trucks would be allowed to deliver.

In a letter to the board, Sean King, from Sean’s Place, a deli on Hampton Road, wrote that a Hampton Road Citarella would add congestion. “While the village is in need of another option, I do not feel the venue on Hampton Road is a safe option,” he said. “The volume of cars that use the parking lot is high, and once the warmer weather comes, the population triples and spaces are a hot commodity.”

Mr. King noted that there are fewer parking spots this year than last because of the village’s Safe Routes to School project, which turned nearby Pine Street into a one-way street and created safer crosswalks for students who walk to school. About 26 spots were lost when a center island pedestrian sidewalk for children was added.

Ken Cunningham, who owns properties on Main Street, said that while he sees parking as a problem, he’d rather have a parking problem than have vacant stores within the village. In recent years, not all eight retail units within the mini-mall have been occupied on a regular basis.

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Why cant they come to Westhampton Beach??
By realistic (472), westhampton on Mar 5, 13 10:31 AM
I remember back in the day when the Village Board was all up in arms about the Tuckahoe King Kullen shopping center and the impact that that would have on the small businesses in the village...Well seems to me that this Citarella, a NYC based corporation, is more of a clear and present danger to these small local businesses than the KK shopping center. The Citarella at this location will suck out any available parking for the small businesses in that area but also compete with them as well both ...more
By Toma Noku (616), uptown on Mar 5, 13 11:20 AM
While I do agree that the parking situation could get a little ugly, let's be real about your traffic and highway comment. It's never going to get better. Never. It's only going to get worse and worse. You make make the road as wide as the LIE and it wouldn't help. There is just too much congestion, too many stoplights, and too many idiotic drivers. As for the shops you listed, most of them are hanging on by a thread as it is and haven't put a penny back into the upkeep or refurbishment of their ...more
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Mar 5, 13 2:58 PM
Why are seemingly intelligent adults even discussing this?

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and the parking standards here are FATAL to this application!



Move on!

By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 5, 13 11:32 AM
IF this application is improved as-is, follow the money IMO.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 5, 13 11:33 AM
Sorry, if "approved."
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 5, 13 11:34 AM
There are plenty of unoccupied already built places ... perhaps there shd be some kind of requirement that allows for their use before new ones are built to then be abbandoned one future day.
By Vikki K (490), Southampton on Mar 5, 13 3:53 PM
1 member liked this comment
True. I believe the Sleepy's shopping center on CR 39 still have a few vacant spaces as well as the one across the street, but we all know how much of a nightmare it is to get in and out of there. Which begs the question: Why were they built in the first place?
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Mar 6, 13 12:24 PM
The village needs this year-round store as well as a grocery option. Citarella fills
both needs and draws people INTO the village. The parking is always an issue
in the village. And in the summer it's terrible but that's just how it is in unless more space is opened up and employees have a lot for themselves. The village should be working on parking. The recent refiguring for "safe routes to school" is a sham. I have never seen any student walking to school. How about dismantling that ...more
By localcitizen (110), Southampton on Mar 5, 13 6:21 PM
3 members liked this comment
IMO the recent work for safe routes was done with grant money, and can't be "un-done" nor should it.

Hampton Road is congested because too many people, cars, and businesses are all crammed into a limited geographic space. Adding a traffic-and-shopper-intensive market into the middle of this space is PREDICTABLY -- NOT -- repeat NOT -- going to have any worthwhile benefits which outweigh the obvious downside impact on traffic, parking and congestion in general.

This proposal is ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 6, 13 6:26 AM
PS -- Yes, the Village is different without the IGA and could use another market nearby. Unfortunately, the proposed location is just the WRONG LOCATION for an obvious need. Don't confuse the need with the (wrong) solution.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 6, 13 6:29 AM
yes we need it..
By spruce (8), Riverhead on Mar 6, 13 9:11 AM
1 member liked this comment
It's almost laughable that the deli guy and the Golden Pear guy are so concerned about the congestion but apparently are not concerned with the competition.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Mar 6, 13 11:58 PM