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Dec 6, 2010 1:43 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

An Open Letter From Gregg and Mitchell Rechler

Dec 6, 2010 1:43 PM

An Open Letter From Gregg and Mitchell Rechler, To the Ad Hoc Hampton Bays Canoe Place Inn Committee

November 22, 2010

Dear Richard, Marie, Eve, Terry, Zach, Brenda and Jim,

Thank you for taking the time to meet with us. As you requested, we are reiterating in writing what we stated to you so you can share the plans with other members of the Hampton Bays community.

After several frustrating years of starts and stops with pending applications to develop the Canoe Place Inn site, we had no choice but to file a lawsuit against the Town of Southampton. At the request of the Town and community, we came up with alternative development plans that would have us subsidize the restoration of the Canoe Place Inn by developing 40 units of town homes on our property east of the canal.

But first, some background on how we arrived at these proposals. Since purchasing the properties in 2004, our original plans to build were delayed by the imposition of an extended building moratorium. After three-and-a-half years of incurring continuing debt on the properties without the promise of relief, we were forced to file a lawsuit with the Town a year ago.

We were then approached by Supervisor Throne-Holst to return to the table and come up with a solution. None of us want to be engaged in a lawsuit, so we gladly went back, talked with many of you as well as other community members and Town officials. We are now ready to begin implementing the results of our discussions with you.

We have invested significantly here in Hampton Bays—both from a financial and emotional perspective—but it’s only with your support that we can succeed in doing what’s best for the community.

At the time we purchased the properties, we planned to raze the Canoe Place Inn and build an extensive, world-class resort on the site. Admittedly, we did not then fully realize the depth of feeling the community has for the historical value of the Canoe Place Inn.

When we discovered the deep concern over losing this Inn, we talked with the community, local civic groups and the Supervisor and Town Council. Our family has been developing on Long

Island for three generations, and we take great pride in our mission of being a good neighbor in the communities in which we work.

After touring the Canoe Place Inn and talking with all the different parties, we too began to feel attached to the Inn and all it stands for in Hampton Bays.

So we went back to the drawing board, scrapped our original plan so we could find a way to not only save the Inn, but also restore it to its former splendor. What many may not realize is that the Inn is in a terrible state of disrepair and, under normal circumstances, is not something we would consider rebuilding. But again, because of the education and background many of you provided, we became excited about the possibilities of a historically restored Canoe Place Inn.

We hired a world-class architect who specializes in renovations of New England coastal historic structures. We have plans to use state-of-the art technology to help us restore the Inn so it will be as close to the original as possible, inside and out. We have an extensive landscaping renovation planned as well, with flower-lined paths leading to the site’s five cottages (which will also be restored), a great lawn in front where weddings and other events can be held under a tent and an overall gardening scheme that will make the outside as beautiful and inviting as the inside.

When work is complete, the interior and exterior of the building itself will closely resemble the original. The restored Canoe Place Inn will have a tap and grill room, a conference/event space, and a catering and dining hall. And the second and third floor rooms will be renovated and made into overnight guest accommodations. When all is said and done, the Canoe Place Inn will not only be a nostalgic replica of a cherished, historical institution, but it will also be world-class facility that will draw in weddings, community gatherings and other events as well as tourism and jobs into the community.

As part of our willingness to restore this community gem, we also needed to come up with a way to make the restoration economically feasible. The plan will be extremely costly and ultimately will not generate the kind of income that would enable us to support the project.

In order to be able to finance the Canoe Place Inn restoration, we have proposed building 40 luxury town homes on the east side of the canal, which will provide waterfront homes—with a public walkway to the canal—in Hampton Bays.

Originally we intended to construct condominiums, but changed the plan to town homes because several of you indicated that this type of ownership will contribute more to the Hampton Bays’ tax base. Unlike condominiums, town homes are assessed as single family detached homes are. In addition, similar developments across Long Island and the nation show that people who buy high-end town homes are those usually looking to downsize: generally single people or couples whose children are grown or those who don’t have children, and the homes are nearly always tax-positive for the local school district.

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Dear Gregg and Mitchell,
Please build what you would otherwise be allowed to build.
Enjoy the holidays and be well.
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Dec 6, 10 12:48 PM
I fully agree with the previous posting. Build whatever you are permitted as of right and stop trading on sentimentalities to obtain permission to make a windfall profit on densities far in excess of the existing code. This development strategy has been used far too often in the past and, unfortunately, been quite successful. It is time the town put an end to it.
By Doug Penny (64), Lexington, Virginia on Dec 6, 10 7:33 PM
Greg & Mitch,
Please build your as of right within current zoning. ...
HB os over developed and overdeveloping the canal will only exacerbate the issue. Having bought it in 2004 prices, im certain that you will still be profitable. RE is for the long term investor. Investing in our community should be long term and not the flipper mentality. You two are well known for your projects on LI so I have no doubt of your capabilities to do this. If the project comes at a loss, you can deduct ...more
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Dec 7, 10 6:27 AM
The alterrnative would be for the politicos to actually do their jobs and decide what is best for the community and negotiate an agreement that would be beneficial to all involved.

That means people who need work, people who need housing, people who view well-planned development as progress, people who respect history but deplore decay.

That doesn't require rubber stamping of PROPOSALS by investors but also doesn't require denials simply for the sake of satisfying those who translate ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Dec 8, 10 11:18 AM
The Rechlers have become genuinely excited about restoring the Canoe Place Inn. They were not at all excited about the restoration when discussions began in the spring. But they have pride, and egos (and money).If given the opportunity,they will make it a beautiful place. However, they are businessman. Sooner or later, they are going to conclude that they have made enough concessions, and they will put an end to discussions and to the CPI.
By gordie howe (55), hockeytown usa on Dec 13, 10 10:53 AM