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Dec 17, 2014 12:07 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town's County Road 39 Study Fails To Weigh In On Tuckahoe King Kullen Proposal

Dec 17, 2014 12:07 PM

A commercial market analysis, which was commissioned by Southampton Town after a Southampton Village study recommended against siting a supermarket on County Road 39, criticizes the village study, but makes nary a mention of whether a supermarket is needed in the area.

The study, which is included in the town’s broader County Road 39 corridor study, points to consumer demand from the village, Shinnecock Hills, Tuckahoe, North Sea and Water Mill that would support additional restaurants and bars, auto parts stores, gas stations, drugstores, and clothing and sporting goods retailers. But, like the County Road 39 study itself, the market analysis conducted for the town by ESRI Inc. provides no hints of specific guidance to the Town Board on whether a proposal for a King Kullen shopping center near the intersection with Magee Street in Tuckahoe is justified.

The only discussion of demand for a supermarket in general, or the King Kullen proposal specifically, is a parenthetical note that says demand would likely not support additional grocery suppliers in Southampton Village or on County Road 39.

In 2013, Southampton Village ordered a market analysis study to assist it in determining if allowing a new grocery store in its boundaries was advisable. That study, by Ohio economist Robert Gibbs, said that the village and its surroundings needed a third grocery store as large as 30,000 square feet, in addition to the Waldbaum’s and Schmidt’s markets already in the village. Since the study was conducted, a 15,000-square-foot Citarella has opened in the village.

Mr. Gibbs told village and town lawmakers at a public discussion of his findings that if the additional grocer were to open with the village limits, it would bring ancillary economic benefits to the other businesses in the downtown shopping district. But, Mr. Gibbs said, if a grocery store were to be built on County Road 39, the highway bypass, it could hurt village businesses by robbing the downtown of some shoppers.

But town officials, most notably Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, questioned the scope of Mr. Gibbs’s analysis, saying it did not look at the full breadth of the community living within the reach of a store on County Road 39.

“To me the village study was troubling because I don’t think it was really adequate,” Ms. Throne-Holst said this week. “I felt the interpretation became geared toward a ‘there shouldn’t be a grocery store in Tuckahoe’ point of view. But the comps that he had in there were information for the village, not information for the Town Board. We need to look at things from a bigger picture.”

Ms. Throne-Holst, who asked that the additional market study be conducted, acknowledged that its findings do not nod to where a supermarket falls into the supply and demand profile and said that perhaps an additional study would be needed looking specifically at what the demand is, if the King Kullen proposal comes up again, as is expected.

Developer Robert Morrow, who led the construction of the King Kullen shopping center in Hampton Bays, and his partners have proposed a 40,000-square-foot supermarket, 15,000 square feet of retail or food stores, and a bank building. The proposal, dubbed the Tuckahoe Center, is the subject of a change-of-zone application before the Town Board, having been shelved by the board in 2013 while the County Road 39 corridor study was completed.

Other board members have raised doubts about the usefulness of the ERSI analysis as well.

“I don’t think that this market study belongs in this plan,” Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming said. “It doesn’t say anything clear about whether there is a need for a grocery store or not. I’m looking to be given guidance by plans like this and this isn’t helpful at all, one way or the other.”

Councilman Brad Bender, who was elected to the board since the last discussions of the Tuckahoe Center proposal were held, said that when and if that proposal comes up again he would want to see a specific analysis of the demand for a grocery store, and something that looks closely at exactly what the traffic impacts would be.

“What I take away from this study is that it says we’re losing money to other places, but it’s very generic,” Mr. Bender said. “I would want to see other information directly, and also the backside of traffic to a supermarket also: where are people going instead.”

Opponents, largely neighborhood residents, have pilloried the King Kullen proposal as a traffic nightmare, saying that estimates of 2,500 visiting cars per day would be the straw that breaks the camel’s back on the already filled-to-capacity roadway. The corridor study contains a traffic analysis that says, indeed, that the roadway is filled to the brim with traffic already and that there are essentially no options for expanding its capacity as the area continues to grow. So the study focuses on reducing the number of places where cars can enter and exit the road, each of which causes a brief slowdown in traffic that has a snowballing effect on traffic.

The countering view of the ripple effects a shopping center would have point to the understanding that some portion of the cars stuffed into the four-lane corridor at a given time are on their way to grocery stores in Hampton Bays, Southampton Village or Bridgehampton. If those vehicles exited the road at Magee Street, the logic would have it, there would be a lessening of the overall traffic. Magee Street’s location at one of the more congested points still makes it a point of easy criticism for placing a shopping center.

Village officials have been stridently against a supermarket being built on County Road 39. Village Trustee Nancy McGann said this week that the village’s original consideration of a grocery store at the former Glennon Buick car dealership at the corner of Hampton Road and the eastern terminus of County Road 39—a notorious gridlocked intersection in summer—was a more appropriate location for a store than at Magee Street, simply because it would be less likely to feed cars onto quiet village residential streets.

“I don’t know whether or not we need [a supermarket] or not, but if we do, I don’t want it there,” Ms. McGann said. “That road cannot handle a lot of in and out traffic, so we know that a lot of it is going to be traveling up our side streets. They are not built for that.”

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First and foremost you need to fix county road 39!! Stop ignoring the elephant in the room and do something to make that road safe. 35 MPH is laughable, the turning lane is used to merge into traffic or a travel lane. How many more accidents/fatalities do we need?
By sandydog21 (195), Southampton on Dec 19, 14 8:58 AM
The developer needs to payoff a big mouthed opponent to the project. We all know her name. She allegedly got some major alterations done on her home for free to stop her complaints of a certain recent housing development. Real sleazy small town crap. The paper should investigate that winner of a deal.
By chief1 (2786), southampton on Dec 19, 14 10:12 AM
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