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Jan 8, 2019 12:33 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Plan To Demolish Jobs Lane Courtyard Ditched

A fence is up to keep people out of a retail courtyard on Jobs Lane in December. All of the shops are empty, and the fountain in the middle is gone. JD ALLEN
Jan 8, 2019 2:23 PM

The owner of a Jobs Lane property in Southampton Village has withdrawn a contentious proposal to demolish the brick courtyard on the property to make way for a pair of commercial buildings.

In a letter on behalf of East End Holdings LLC, which is the listed property owner, Southampton attorney Gil Flanagan said his client “for multiple reasons” has decided not to pursue the project.

Today, the courtyard is closed off to the public with a wooden fence. All of the shops inside are empty. A fountain in the middle of the courtyard was removed last year.

Mr. Flanagan did not respond to requests for clarification on what will become of the courtyard and the rest of the property.

First proposed in 2017, discussion of the developer’s bid to construct a two-story building, which would be twice the square footage of the existing cluster of retail buildings nestled in the courtyard, ignited a year later, when some community members rallied to save the courtyard.

Opponents—led by the Southampton Association, a local citizens group—claimed the private courtyard was an important community resource in the midst of the business district, and that the aesthetic of the proposed retail building wouldn’t be in keeping with the character of the village.

Even though the Village Planning Board advanced the proposal in July, noting that it had no significant historical or environmental impact, tensions mounted when Board Chairman Alan McFarland delayed approval of a site plan when Susan Madonia, who operates Ann Madonia Antiques next door to the proposed new building, said construction would damage her property and have a significant impact on her economically.

In September, the East End Disabilities Group, a nonprofit organization that holds municipalities accountable for breaches of civil rights, contended that the proposed development didn’t not comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Federal law prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in public and private spaces. The nonprofit’s chairman, Glenn Hall, said the front entrance did not give all members of the community equal access. Two weeks later, a memo was circulated to board members stipulating that several changes to the property were needed to meet requirements.

Ms. Madonia also submitted a petition with more than 550 signatures, with “thousands more made online,” asking the board members to reverse their determination. The board quarreled with Ms. Madonia, who said the Architectural Review and Historic Preservation Board was not appropriately involved with a project. Village Attorney Elbert W. Robinson defended the actions of both boards.

Then, discussion stopped. Mr. Flanagan asked the board to adjourn the application at several meetings in an effort to tweak the plan, but now the plan has been pulled altogether, with no indication what will follow.

During one of the numerous public hearings held on the plan, Morley Quatroche Jr., the property’s leasing agent, said that he had leased 36 seasonal pop-up stores in the courtyard in the past decade. He said those temporary shops have hurt the business of full-time tenants who pay rent all year-round, making the retail courtyard a hard sell.

Mr. Quatroche and the property owner—as well as Mayor Michael Irving, who touted the plan in 2017—have said that the retail configuration would attract better foot traffic to the stores on Jobs Lane than the courtyard layout, and would promote more stable leasing.

As for what will happen to the property, according to the Building Department, the owner is allowed to put up a temporary construction fence to take up the bricks on the grounds of the courtyard, which are not subject to a demolition permit.

Mr. Quatroche could not be reached for comment as to when the stores in the retail courtyard would be able to be leased again. “For Rent” signs are still fixed in the windows facing Jobs Lane.

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So glad they decided to demolish the fountain and ruin the character of the courtyard (and Jobs Ln in general) before they decided to abandon their awful plan. That courtyard has always been an integral component to the quaint character of Spouthampton. What’s going on with our Village? Every year it’s feeling a little less like home. Maybe if these property owners weren’t charging ridiculously high rents, they would be able to find decent year-round tenants.
By S'hamptonNative (83), Southampton on Jan 9, 19 8:42 AM
Native, agree with you about the courtyard being very nice. But you can't make a owner conform to other people's ideas.
I'm sorry to say the character of Southampton has changed already and not foe the good. McMansions have ruined the area. Southampton was a summer community for the well to do and now is a summer resort.
I agree with the owner as he should be able to maximize his investment. I really don't know how any business can afford to rent in Southampton. The youth in the village ...more
By knitter (1754), Southampton on Jan 9, 19 9:54 AM
1 member liked this comment
the rent in SH is prohibitive now , you cannot start business and afford the rent . The unreasonable agencies that represent the owners have turned the town into a main street of real estate brokers.
By lo-cal (74), southampton on Jan 12, 19 1:34 PM
Native, agree with you about the courtyard being very nice. But you can't make a owner conform to other people's ideas.
I'm sorry to say the character of Southampton has changed already and not foe the good. McMansions have ruined the area. Southampton was a summer community for the well to do and now is a summer resort.
I agree with the owner as he should be able to maximize his investment. I really don't know how any business can afford to rent in Southampton. The youth in the village ...more
By knitter (1754), Southampton on Jan 9, 19 9:56 AM
Once again, the Southampton Association is behind a myopic, ill-advised campaign to stop any progress in Southampton. Remember the Tuckahoe school merger, they stopped that and now both schools suffer economically, now this moribund courtyard which never really worked (at least not since Gayle Wilson had a shop there), can't be repurposed? Reminds me of those other well-meaning ideologues who though Samuel Parrish would roll in his grave if a tree or fountain was moved for a prospective Parrish ...more
By Rickenbacker (257), Southampton on Jan 9, 19 5:04 PM
1 member liked this comment
It’s been an important eye-sore for 30+ years.
By SlimeAlive (1180), Southampton on Jan 9, 19 9:39 PM
Excellent points Rickenbacker. Retail as it used to be is a dying ethos. Look at the large malls that are even being repurposed as multi family living and restaurant uses. Watch the vacancies increase here - carried only by overnight pop-ups.
By Mouthampton (420), Southampton on Jan 10, 19 3:55 PM
The owner did the right thing. The amount of time and money and lawyer fees and village costs to do anything is very painful. You should be able to do what you want to without being told you must do it this the towns way if want to upgrade the outside of your property. We pay a lot of taxes to begin with.
By Mr.007 (4), Riverhead on Jan 13, 19 10:15 AM
I bet you don't live in S Hampton or if you do you're not familiar with the laws etc. The need for oversight regarding what is built in the area is very much needed. Of course we do not agree with all decisions but the owners decision to back down is a wise one. I grew next door to that property, presently I think, Ralph Lauren shop. My grandfather owned that shop, I played in the "park" next door.
By summertimegal (93), southampton on Jan 13, 19 4:36 PM
OMG
Soon Southampton Village will be a ghost village
By Mate (44), Southampton on Jan 14, 19 6:43 PM
Southampton is already a ghost village in winter. It used to be beautifully decorated at Christmas time until they decided to use those disgusting LED multicolor lights that are dark & depressing. A village where millions of gallons of water for pools and billions in electricity are used during the summer decides they need to economize with crappy looking lights. Anyway.....what’s the point of decorating at Christmas? The village is a ghost town. There’s no retail after dark, which ...more
By btdt (442), water mill on Jan 17, 19 6:00 PM
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