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Dec 3, 2014 11:00 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Town Officials Present Plans For Bridgehampton Gateway, Residents Are Optimistic But Cautious

Dec 3, 2014 11:25 AM

Last week, Southampton Town planning and development administrator Kyle Collins presented the first concept plans for the Bridgehampton Gateway, a proposed mixed-use planned development district across from the Bridgehampton Commons on Montauk Highway that the town is revisiting after the project stalled years ago.

To get the ball rolling again, the Town Board passed a resolution at its meeting last week that enabled Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst to sign a contract with Cashin Associates, P.C., an engineering, construction management and environmental consulting firm. Cashin will be responsible for completing the generic environmental impact statement that was already 80-percent completed when the project was abandoned in 2009. The town will fund the completion through the Land Management Department at a price of $49,600.

The concept Mr. Collins presented at a Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee last week included two designs drawn up by Southampton-based Araiys Design, both of which included 90,000 square feet of retail and residential space on the 13 acres owned by developer Greg Konner and his mother, Carol Konner. Both designs feature barn-like buildings anchored by a 1-acre pasture on the northern part of the property to “build on the agricultural heritage of the hamlet” and give the Gateway a “farmstead feel.”

Streetscapes and walkways are slated to make the Gateway more pedestrian-friendly for shoppers than the Bridgehampton Commons, Mr. Collins said. A fountain will add an urban touch.

The PDD will also include 36 housing units: eight at market value, with the rest being “community benefit” units. Mr. Collins said most of the units would be attractive for younger people just starting out, such as new teachers seeking to live in or near the school district they work in. The housing units would be incorporated into the second floor of the building toward the southern end of the Gateway in each design.

Overall, there are three 15,000-square-foot buildings, three 10,000-square-foot buildings, and three 5,000-square-foot-buildings. The two plans differ in that the locations of some of the buildings shift, as well as the locations of the parking lots. Mr. Collins estimated that there are about 150 spaces proposed.

The entrance to the Gateway would be directly across from the entrance to the Bridgehampton Commons at the traffic light. Mr. Collins said the town will work with the State Department of Transportation to install a crosswalk, perhaps one with embedded lights on the pavement. The bus stop across from the Commons would also have to be moved, but it will be just a few feet so that it stays close to both the Commons and the Gateway. Ultimately, Mr. Collins said there will be “perfect pedestrian circulation and vehicular circulation” with the light and new crosswalk.

Since viewing the new concept plans, residents have put together a 12-person study group at the request of Ms. Throne-Holst to provide input about how they would like to see the project implemented, and what retailers they would like to see at the Gateway. While some residents have said it is too early to say what they like and don’t like about the presented plans, Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee co-chair Nancy Walter-Yvertes said the committee is interested but is not ready to endorse the plan just yet.

Ms. Walter-Yvertes said many questions came out of last week’s meeting, mainly whether there will be enough parking, if the architecture will reflect the rural character of the hamlet, as the designs suggest, and about the overall density of the project. Ms. Walter-Yvertes said she was concerned that the square footage of the buildings had increased to 90,000 when, in previous presentations, Mr. Collins said it would not have been more than 80,000.

But the “elephant in the room,” as Ms. Walter-Yvertes put it, is whether the proposed CVS in the hamlet could be a prospective tenant.

“The Gateway is much more attractive if the CVS is part of it,” she said, adding that the timing of the project and the fast rate at which the town is trying to implement it suggest to her that officials could be using this as a way to find a new location for the proposed pharmacy. “We’d like very much to know as soon as possible if CVS is going to move in there.”

When asked about it at the CAC meeting last week, Mr. Konner said that although the property is mainly zoned for highway business now, which would not permit a CVS, a change of zoning to a PDD would allow such a retailer.

Residents also asked Mr. Konner if he would be able to fill 90,000 square feet of retail space, to which he replied that it would not be a problem at all.

“I have an application in front of the town with Equinox,” he said of a pending site plan application for a gym that would be part of the Gateway. “And I have a lot of people asking. I’ll have no problem filling it.”

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