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Aug 27, 2019 3:22 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Village Mayor Says Courtyard Owner Deliberately Destroyed Property

Southampton Village Mayor Jesse Warren
Aug 28, 2019 10:35 AM

The owner of a retail courtyard along Jobs Lane may have deliberately destroyed the iconic property — and the mayor of Southampton Village is not happy about it.

At a Village Board meeting on August 20, Mayor Jesse Warren faced a room full of distraught surfers who were looking for relief from a nearly four-decade-old law that restricted surfing along village beaches during the daytime in the summer. As part of the discussion, he told them they should be just as concerned about other things going on in their hometown.

“For those who are as passionate about surfing, I would actually challenge you to be equally as passionate about what also happened to us in this village,” Mr. Warren said. “We all know that on Jobs Lane, there’s a courtyard, and that courtyard was actually intentionally destroyed by the landlord. I know this, because he told me this.”

The courtyard’s current state is disarray: Bricks are torn up and scattered, the centerpiece fountain has been destroyed, and the surrounding stores look dilapidated and ghostly. The entranceway is blocked by a wooden stockade fence — and those hoping to get a peek to see what is inside are greeted by a flock of pink plastic flamingos. The vegetation is also overgrown, taking over sidewalks, patios and wooden arbors.

The statements from Mr. Warren came moments after village watchdog Evelyn Konrad, an outspoken critic of local government, requested that village officials take action against the owner of the courtyard.

On Tuesday, Mr. Warren said the owner’s name is John Vigna of East End Holdings LLC, and the building manager is Michael Rooney.

Ms. Konrad has been vocal about many issues in the village, including asbestos abatement and the construction of numerous McMansions. While her comments may often seem to fall on deaf ears during the public portions of some of Southampton Village Board meetings, they certainly did not this time.

“The owner’s closing of the brick courtyard at 38-42 Jobs Lane is totally illegal,” Ms. Konrad, an attorney, said. “The village government … have not only authority [but] the responsibility to insist, immediately, to have the owner restore, at his expense, the brick and the central fountain, and to open up that public space.”

She argues that the space, although private property, has been quasi-public for decades, and said the village code gives the village the authority to exercise greater control over it as a result.

East End Holdings LLC in 2017 proposed the construction of a two-story building in the courtyard’s place. The building was originally expected to be twice the square footage of the current space taken up by retail buildings surrounding the courtyard.

The proposal upset many people in the village, including members of the Southampton Association, a local citizens group. The association claimed that the courtyard was important to the community, and that the proposed retail building would not be in keeping with the character of the village.

Following the outcry, the plan was abandoned in January 2019, and the owner, after withdrawing the application, erected a temporary fence to allow him to take up the bricks from the courtyard — which, according to the Building Department, was allowed and not subject to a demolition permit.

The mayor has a different interpretation of the situation: In response to not being able to move forward, Mr. Warren said this week, Mr. Vigna destroyed the courtyard.

The mayor said on Tuesday that he had lunch with Mr. Vigna and Mr. Rooney in the middle of August to let them know that the Village Improvement Society would be willing to pay for any costs incurred by Mr. Vigna to restore the property, making it free of charge to him.

The society, Mr. Warren said, would pay for the restoration of the property, the removal of the flamingos, the repairs to the bricks, and the cleanup of all the weeds and plants that are taking over the property, in an effort to bring it back to life.

“I told him I’d be happy to communicate and work with him, but I was hoping that he could fix it and clean it up, because we just can’t have that in Southampton Village,” Mr. Warren said.

“He said he could do whatever he wants, because he’s rich. That’s what he said.”

Mr. Vigna could not be reached for comment. Gil Flanagan, a Southampton Village-based attorney who represents East End Holdings LLC, was not immediately available for comment on Tuesday.

Mr. Warren said he has heard concerns from many Jobs Lane business owners, claiming that the dilapidated courtyard negatively affects their businesses.

Mr. Vigna had no intent to work with the village, Mr. Warren said, which made him look into code to see if Mr. Vigna was violating any laws. In addition to looking into the code himself, the mayor has reached out to Village Attorney Wayne Bruyn to investigate whether Mr. Vigna had committed any code violations, and to act quickly on them.

“I want to see Jobs Lane be successful,” Mr. Warren said. “In the short term, we just can’t have landlords intentionally destroying their property at the expense of our entire community — and at the expense of our local merchants.”

Village Trustee Kimberly Allan acknowledged on Tuesday that the courtyard was an eyesore and in bad shape. But taking brisk action against the landlord may not have the results the village is looking for, she cautioned.

“I would like to see us start over on all sides,” she said. “We’re a community, and we want to do the right thing.

“Hopefully, that landlord will give it another go,” she added.

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Well done, Jesse & Evelyn! Good luck!
By Lesliej3 (3), Southampton on Aug 29, 19 7:55 AM
2 members liked this comment
"She argues that the space, although private property, has been quasi-public for decades, and said the village code gives the village the authority to exercise greater control over it as a result."
Exercise greater control of the SUNY/Southampton Hospital system THAT IS PUBLICLY OWNED and lower the cost of healthcare insurance for the police, teachers and other government workers so that taxes are lower not higher and maybe you'll see more businesses move into the Village instead of away from ...more
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Aug 29, 19 7:57 AM
Good Luck Jesse! The landlord should be held accountable for the condition of their property. It is extremely childish for him to destroy his land, then refuse to fix it because he didn't get his way. Being wealthy isn't an excuse for poor behavior. I hope the village fights this with everything they have to set an example for future landlords.
By Corwin1879 (40), Southampton on Aug 29, 19 8:30 AM
Vigna needs to get simple no trespass warnings issued against his detractors.
Its not their property, its his.
Aug 29, 19 8:32 AM appended by themarlinspike
Build something really huge, they will come.
By themarlinspike (542), Northern Hemisphere on Aug 29, 19 8:32 AM
Yes, it is a eye sore and was really nice. But telling a owner what he can do with his property is beyond stupid.
Jessie, think before putting your foot in your mouth. Fine him if it's legal and board the place up...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Aug 29, 19 9:00 AM
1 member liked this comment
We have all kings of zoning laws & rules telling owners what they can do with their property.
Maybe you won’t mind if someone builds an 28 story apartment complex next door to you with a distribution center on the ground floor, trucks coming in and out 24 hours a day.
You can’t do whatever you please with property you buy.
I’d turn my backyard into a heliport and make a mint, but I can’t.
Pesky rules
By btdt (449), water mill on Sep 7, 19 9:54 PM
Surprised Wayne Bruyn isn't representing Mr. Vigna.
By East End 2 (151), Southampton on Aug 29, 19 9:27 AM
Dewey, Cheetum, & Howe?

Some conflicts of interest just can't be covered up no matter how far you stick your head in the sand...or somewhere else.
By deepchanel (89), Hampton Bays on Aug 30, 19 9:22 AM
Find out what other properties Vigna owns and boycott those stores.
By vsmorton (4), Southampton on Aug 29, 19 11:59 AM
1 member liked this comment
Yes, that make sense. Punish the tenants because you disapprove of the landlords actions.
By gusef (53), Southampton on Aug 29, 19 12:48 PM
1 member liked this comment
Well maybe they can put some pressure on him to act like a responsible property owner! Or they can seek new retail properties and hurt him in the wallet!
By vsmorton (4), Southampton on Aug 29, 19 3:23 PM
He's rich , it won't hurt
By AndersEn (174), Southampton on Aug 30, 19 4:08 PM
He's rich , it won't hurt
By AndersEn (174), Southampton on Aug 30, 19 4:08 PM
Nobody gets rich by losing money.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Aug 30, 19 4:15 PM
This issue simply highlights the larger concerning aspect of vacancies in the commercial areas of the Village and surrounding areas. Baby boomers are down sizing and heading to warmer weather, young people cannot afford to stay/live in this area, service industry does not support Hamptons cost of living, workers commute from areas west, and retail is a dying industry. Unfortunately, the infrastructure does not support the current "Village Lifestyle" that you see in other redeveloped areas. Vacancies ...more
By Mouthampton (439), Southampton on Aug 29, 19 1:04 PM
So the Village is going to force a property owner to fix up his privately owned courtyard so it can be open to the public. Okay, when a member of the public trips, falls and cuts their head and then sues (the property owner I assume) for a Million Dollars for "emotional damages" will the Village be paying that settlement?
By skipolsen (5), Calveron on Aug 29, 19 2:28 PM
What part of "His Private Property" don't you entitled communists understand? There is NO SUCH THING as "Quasi-Public". Unless the town or state is subsidizing the cost, upkeep, operations, or repairs on HIS property, it's his to do with! END OF STORY
Aug 29, 19 4:34 PM appended by DisgustedHamptons
The issue of code enforcement has been brought up - I agree that you can not leave the exterior of your property blighted as this could decrease adjacent property values and impact the neighborhood. Obviously the owner of the property has chosen to do this because he is unhappy with the village over denying him permits for his other plans for the property. For those who have declared his private property "Quasi" pr "Semi" public... If you would like your fantasy to come true, then lets exempt him from his property taxes and you can all run around in the courtyard
By DisgustedHamptons (58), Hampton Bays on Aug 29, 19 4:34 PM
There are zoning laws that govern private property. Just like the homeowner who cannot build a house right up to the property line or build a 6 story building on a residential lot, retail property owners also have to live by certain rules that are decided by their location. In essence, all property is subject to rules so why shouldn't his? If he doesn't like the rules, sell the property. No one forced him to buy this property. The courtyard and semi-public space was there before he was!
By vsmorton (4), Southampton on Aug 29, 19 4:53 PM
You sound like a petulant child stomping his or her feet. Be careful who you label as quote "entitled". Build as of right, or not at all.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Aug 29, 19 4:59 PM
1 member liked this comment
What the ? All of a sudden Carolyn is a capitalist ROTFL
Aug 29, 19 8:42 PM appended by They call me
And you have to love Mr Z. Stop all improvements! Everyone go back to riding stage coaches! No more PDDs No more people! No more No more No More ! lol Lets all sit around like its 1972 and go calming in the summer and tobogganing in the winter. weeee
By They call me (2826), southampton on Aug 29, 19 8:42 PM
Causality is a far worse index than cause.
Aug 30, 19 12:22 AM appended by Mr. Z
CH4 1866 ppb CO2 415 ppm
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Aug 30, 19 12:22 AM
Probably want to go up three stories for "worker" housing? They keep mentioning Patchogue, we don't want to be a patchogue. No condos and large buildings on jobs lane.
You can't support the restaurants that are in the village now. High prices and fair food. Going out to lunch for four $175. Some close down after september and change hands frequently.
Southampton has changed..........
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Aug 29, 19 4:40 PM
1 member liked this comment
Those restaurants change hands and close in the off season because there are not enough people to support them but you want to limit housing for young people.

They mention Patchogue because it is a growing, thriving community with housing opportunities and businesses to service them.

You're part of the problem!
By VOS (1241), WHB on Aug 30, 19 1:45 AM
I believe the plans called for three street front retail spaces and three apartments. Not exactly a housing project or massive development like Patchogue. Zoning rules would still guide what could be done with the contiguous lots with final aesthetics approved by the Village ARB. Remember those are folks entrusted by the rest of the Village to review these submissions. I don't think anyone is calling for Southampton to become Patchogue, or Ronkonkoma or even Riverhead, but adaptation to the times ...more
By Mouthampton (439), Southampton on Aug 29, 19 8:30 PM
2 members liked this comment
The problem with a millenial public official. Hold your breath when you don't get your ice cream for desert. It's PRIVATE property. YOU nor the village own it so beat it.
By lirider (288), Hampton Bays on Aug 30, 19 12:06 AM
1 member liked this comment
Funny how this town used to be 1000% cooler when teens would parade Jobs and Main, over and over again blasting music made from not only their first stereo, but first car as well.

Now, we can’t even fill storefronts enough for landlords to care enough to keep them open... or is this some ploy to get free renovations from ‘The Land of No’ themselves...? To be continued, on a much more interesting show than this one.

The Hamptons are over, this malarkey is the new ...more
By The Royal 'We' (199), Southampton on Aug 30, 19 2:30 AM
3 members liked this comment
So true sir. The old folks from Nassua County have taken over.
By tenn tom (259), remsenburg on Aug 30, 19 7:27 AM
What did the board not like about the guy's plans? Were his ideas any worse than some of the sh*t shows that have been allowed to be built on Dune Road?
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Aug 30, 19 7:45 AM
Why isn’t the idea of using CPF explored? The courtyard is a beautiful accent on Job’s Lane and across from the Southampton Arts Center.. Sounds like it could a part of a new “Vision” for Job’s Lane. Retails are folding across our country due to on-line shopping. It is time to think outside of the box! Good luck SHV and those who can embrace a new vision!!
By Red Flag (51), Southampton on Aug 30, 19 8:54 AM
You’re joking... Right?
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Aug 30, 19 10:06 PM
1 member liked this comment
SHV you are lucky to have Jesse at the helm and trying to intercept problems. Good job Jesse!
By Red Flag (51), Southampton on Aug 30, 19 8:55 AM
From the looks of the picture his interception was fumbled.
By lirider (288), Hampton Bays on Aug 30, 19 3:35 PM
I voted for this Mayor, and I am very disappointed with his comments. He is totally ignoring the past history of this property. The subject property has had a poor rental history since it was built. The recent proposal is actually not a new idea, it was considered by the original developer as well, as he recognized that the property was not performing well. The facts are that this property has had a poor rental history over a span of over 40 years. One must believe this is the current owners motivations ...more
By gusef (53), Southampton on Aug 30, 19 9:10 AM
I have to agree that its really tough to make it in these court yards unless you are a destination retailer. I would love to a small boutique hotel built there with/or just a restaurant. Retail does not survive off the beaten track even when times are good. I've experienced both. I think the court yard as lovely as it use to be in its heyday, its a death trap for retailers. We need more restaurants not retail space. We need not make enemies or create wars with commercial property owners as we are ...more
By lursagirl (245), southampton on Aug 30, 19 12:26 PM
I agree with Lursa. I would love to see a Wendy's at that location with outdoor seating.
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Aug 30, 19 12:39 PM
LOL...we can do better than a Wendys...
By lursagirl (245), southampton on Aug 30, 19 12:48 PM
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Aug 30, 19 12:59 PM
White Castle
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Aug 30, 19 10:08 PM
None of the above. Spare us O Lord from the toxic (and expensive) skata corporate America is dishing out. CHAIN FOOD IS UNACCEPTABLE.
By June Bug (2680), SOUTHAMPTON on Aug 30, 19 11:51 PM
C'mon June Bug , you gotta live a little !
By AndersEn (174), Southampton on Aug 31, 19 11:21 AM
Exactly why I and y'all should avoid fast food. "Live a little", not a lot.
By June Bug (2680), SOUTHAMPTON on Aug 31, 19 11:49 AM
Taco Bell
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Aug 31, 19 9:38 PM
1 member liked this comment
The court yard itself would have made a great space for a restaurant to use. But, because we desperately need a new sewer district to achieve goals like that, it was not ever possible. Dining up there could have been a really nice draw for the village and in particular Jobs Lane, all these years and aesthetically beautiful. Look at how Java Nation invigorated the alcove in Sag Harbor years back.

It's pretty obvious with Mr. Vigna wants the whole chain of properties there because he also ...more
By lursagirl (245), southampton on Aug 31, 19 11:59 PM
1 member liked this comment
Sorry for the typos.
By lursagirl (245), southampton on Sep 1, 19 12:01 AM
“He said he could do whatever he wants, because he’s rich." Wow, Is this the value system we want in our country? Rich people calling all the shots and the rest of us just making do the best we can? This Vigna guy, by ripping up his own courtyard in order to create an eyesore for everyone else, seems spiteful, mean, and selfish. He's the last person who should be doing whatever he wants.
By Julie Sheehan (11), East Quogue on Sep 1, 19 10:13 AM
I totally hear you! He's a horrible bully of a businessman. Best to ignore him and try and make him obsolete. If the village is in its right to block out that eyesore with evergreens they should. We don't need those retail spaces as of now its hard enough renting the ones right on Jobs lane. Wouldn't be great if the village could just block it out taking some of his sabotaging methods away from him. I say block him out and move on with more important matters for now.
By lursagirl (245), southampton on Sep 1, 19 11:47 AM
1 member liked this comment
EVIL owner!!!
By Mate (55), Southampton on Sep 1, 19 8:47 PM
1 member liked this comment
Here's the funny thing about this:

He wants to put a different building in because no one goes into the courtyard... He has a hard time renting the spaces because of very little traffic. I guess all the people that are upset about losing the courtyard don't actually go into it.

The other funny thing is that there's a building across the street, designed by John Rose, that does exactly what the building that was proposed would have done.

This is the case of one person ...more
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Sep 4, 19 12:18 PM
2 members liked this comment
Tell the owner to resubmit an application for his 2 story building. One that doesn't require any variances. Give him a building permit, let him build what he wants. If the the residents or the village don't like it or want to keep the property as a courtyard. Get their wallets together and buy it at an acceptable form the owner.
By tim2011 (18), southampton on Sep 5, 19 7:19 PM
Oh that’s what we need.
More retail shops to go out of business and be abandoned.
Then the owner will decide to make it into condos.
By btdt (449), water mill on Sep 7, 19 9:49 PM