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Sep 6, 2011 2:23 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Some Still Upset Over Three-Story Hotel At Gabreski Airport

Sep 14, 2011 1:36 PM

Even though more than a month has passed since the Southampton Town Board approved amendments to the planned development district at Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton—a move that paved the way for a three-story, 145-room hotel to be built as part of the proposed Hamptons Business and Technology Park—some residents are still seeing red.

Some neighbors believe that the visual impact created by the height of the hotel, as well as two large signs that will be installed near the entrance of the still unbuilt complex, will detract from the character of their resort community.

“I’m disappointed,” said Sharon Frost, who lives in Hampton West Estates, a development located on the western side of Old Riverhead Road, across from the airport. “It doesn’t fit with the surrounding community. I agree that we need a hotel, but I don’t think it needs to be three stories high.”

When the airport PDD was approved in 2007, the plans called for a two-story, 35-foot-tall hotel. But in January of this year, developer Gregg Rechler, of Rechler Equity Partners in Melville, came before the Town Board with a list of suggested amendments to the plan, including a request that the firm be allowed to build a three-story, 45-foot-tall hotel within the technology park. The facility will eventually be built on the east side of Old Riverhead Road, just north of the airport’s main entrance.

Another amendment included a provision for the installation of two entrance signs slated to be 6 feet long and 16 feet high, or 96 square feet in size. The developers stated that the signs would be placed on monument walls; according to the adopted amendment, the actual signage may occupy 78 percent of the total area of the walls.

A special exception was necessary for the increased hotel height; buildings within the airport PDD were supposed to remain capped at 35 feet, or two stories. On July 26, the Town Board approved both the hotel and sign amendments.

Three stories, Mr. Rechler said at the time, were necessary to attract a major flagship hotel to the estimated 50-acre business and technology park that will feature nine buildings. Mr. Rechler and his cousin, Mitchell Rechler, the developers behind the project, signed a 40-year lease with Suffolk County in May 2009.

Gregg Rechler said this week that his company has had discussions with “a couple of different high-quality flagship” hotels that are interested in the Westhampton site. He declined to identify the hotel chains, saying that it was still too premature to do so.

Also, he said there is still no time line for the construction of the hotel. “I’d love to have it sooner than later,” Mr. Rechler said. “The hotel will definitely help perpetuate the vision of the industrial park.”

The new Hamptons Business and Technology Park is expected to be an economic generator and create year-round jobs. Groundbreaking is now slated to commence in the spring of 2012.

Now that the amendments have been approved, Mr. Rechler said work is commencing to secure site plan approval so ground can be broken on the first two buildings. Those structures, for which tenants are now being sought, include a 30,000-square-foot mixed use office building and a 58,000-square-foot structure that will house research and development companies.

So far, “a handful of people” have expressed interest in leasing space at the buildings, though formal leases have not yet been signed, Mr. Rechler said. He said his firm hopes to secure site plan approval and permits for first two buildings early next year.

Still, some community members remain opposed to the project, stating that the amendments should never have been approved.

“I live right down the road,” Ms. Frost said. “We have to pass it every time we leave my house. It has more of an impact on us than others.”

Mr. Rechler explained that the signs must still undergo a review by the town’s Architectural Review Board as part of a separate approval process.

At a public hearing held on May 24 on the then-proposed amendments, Gabreski Airport Manager Anthony Ceglio said he had done a survey of signs in the area and thinks the ones being proposed by the Rechlers is not out of character for the community. In addition, he said making them smaller would make them less visible to those driving by. Mr. Rechler agreed, stating that the signs “are totally consistent with other signs throughout the Southampton community.”

Forest Markowitz, another resident of Hampton West Estates, said he and other members of the Hampton West Estates Residents Association are all for development at Gabreski Airport. But he said they have been put off by what he believes was a “bait and switch” by the Rechlers, particularly regarding the size of the hotel.

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Good Luck to the development of this airport. This airport is an eyesore, finally someone is doing something that needed to be done. This will bring new and exciting jobs and opprtunities to our communityI am sure this will be well done, well landscaped and a much needed addition to our area.
By shock (70), whb on Sep 6, 11 7:10 PM
Welcome the Hotel Billboard of the Hamptons. You will probably be able to see this structure smacked up against the Riverhead Road from 27, especially if SH Town does not impose lighting limitations at the top of this Taj Mahal!

Previous articles are not linked above, but previous comments about this farce apply IMO.

I guess certain people running for office in November could not see fit to move the footprint slightly east, or to reduce the "billboard" western face of the hotel ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Sep 6, 11 7:58 PM
2 members liked this comment
The previous articles are STILL not linked above, and the article has been updated to indicate that some people are "still" upset?

Give me a break!

The proposed structure, as located, is a "Billboard for Excess" !!!!

Perhaps they should also build another hotel right next to (or on top of) the new Parrish Art Museum on 27 just before Water Mill?

The SH Town Board appears to have told developers that this is now the era of


and ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Sep 13, 11 4:27 PM
1 member liked this comment
I am quoted in this article. I agree for years the airport was under used and an eyesore - overall this project as currently designed will bring in good paying year round jobs - the area needs this. The Rechlers came into this project full well knowing the size limitations on their project, and then essentially said - "whoops, we can't do this without three floors". When I spoke at a Town Board meeting as president of the Hampton West Estates Residents Association I mentioned my concern about possible ...more
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on Sep 13, 11 7:44 PM
1 member liked this comment
Sorry forgot to mention - I am Forest Markowitz, seasonal resident of Hampton West Estates since 1978 and now semi-retired and will be a full time resident soon.
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on Sep 13, 11 7:46 PM
1 member liked this comment
Thank you Mr. Markowitz for coming forward. Why the SH Town Board approved this project, as located and sized, is a mystery indeed, or maybe not?

Wait, is there an election vomiting up in the fall?

By PBR (4956), Southampton on Sep 13, 11 8:25 PM
1 member liked this comment

According to this quote:

"Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst noted that, as things now stand, only a small number of residents still oppose the hotel height. “I think most people understand that, in order for it to be viable,” the amendment had to be green lighted."

Yo Anna, is this an accurate quote?

Why does the proposed "Billboard of Excess" have to be located smack-dab against the Riverhead Road?

Why did you vote for the ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Sep 13, 11 8:34 PM
2 members liked this comment
The proposed location is the most practical, adjacent to the airport entrance and farthest from the flight patterns. Just stop the nonsense, hire some workers and start - finally - to make something of this airport.

(The Parrish is an asset to the community and will be fine when completed and landscaped.)
By VOS (1241), WHB on Sep 14, 11 9:40 AM
The article titled sould read "PBR Still Upset Over Three-Story Hotel At Gabreski Airport"

After all, the local politicians should be reading these articles and making policy decisions based upon them, and if PBR is outraged, God knows he will let the 27 east community know!

Hey PBR, have you offerd any proposed alternatives to the Town in writing/person?
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Sep 14, 11 10:50 AM
1 member liked this comment
Why are so many residents opposed to progress? It is not like the development is on open greenspace. Gabreski has been an under-utilized eyesore for years and this project has the potential to bring economic growth.

You want to deny progress because of some signage and adding 10 feet to the height of a hotel?? How is that going to ruin the current aesthetics of the area??

The constant opposition to any change exhibited by many on 27east is sad. Have you noticed all the young people ...more
By East End Pragmatist (1), Sag Harbor on Sep 14, 11 3:24 PM
1 member liked this comment
Economic growth means nothing, without a salary increase for the average "middle class" worker.

It one should occur, a raise that is, it would be for the first time in about forty years by most accounting.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Sep 14, 11 10:30 PM
We are not talking about that now MR. Z try to keep up
By They call me (2826), southampton on Sep 15, 11 2:34 PM
No, in a way we are.

These jobs that will be created, will they be minmum wage for the people who clean up after those who reside temporarily in those rooms, or will a reasonable wage commensurate with the cost of living here be proffered?

Jobs being created are one thing. Crappily compensated honest labor is another.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Sep 17, 11 4:49 PM
The character of any area can be altered for the worse. If one cares how it looks on the whole, then the final question to a reasonable person is "does it fit in or not"? If it does, build it. This is not rocket science. "Sign, sign everywhere a sign, blocking out the scenery, breaking up my mind." The town board said "you got to have a membership card, boy, to get on the inside". Vote, Vote, Vote.
By Johnny Nova (83), Northampton on Sep 14, 11 6:18 PM
Technology Park... Silicon Valley, Soho, MIT....Westhampton. Sounds about right
By Hambone (514), New York on Sep 14, 11 10:15 PM
This just goes to show that PDDs are a disaster. They can not be governed. The idea that you can change the rules of the ball game in the ninth inning does not apply to the Recklers. This action makes a mockery out of the PDD law.

Their claim that they could not attract a top hotel unless they had three stories is totally bogus. You can fit three stories beautifully into a 35-foot height limit. And if they spread out the footprint they could have a two-story hotel. Not exactly a tragedy.

Look ...more
By kvetch (14), Southold on Sep 15, 11 11:34 AM
1 member liked this comment
A hotel will be positive for the community.
Westhampton needs a modern facility to house its visitors, and it will only
help our economy.

Sharon has done a terrific job on keeping jet noise under control, and her good-natured concerns are admirable, but I don't think an extra floor, from an investor's standpoint, is unreasonable.
By Steven (113), Westhampton on Sep 16, 11 5:44 AM
Master Plan:
Sunrise = Sunrise
Old Riverhead Road = Van Wyck
Gabreski = JFK
"major flagship hotel" = Bedbug Suites
Moriches Bay = Jamaica Bay
Dune Rd. = Rockaway Blvd.
Westhampton Beach = Howard Beach

By rburger (82), Remsenburg on Sep 17, 11 7:46 AM
4 members liked this comment
rburger = Lewis Carroll
By VOS (1241), WHB on Sep 17, 11 12:34 PM
This proposal started life as a "movie studio" for which extra height was requested for sound stages for which extra vertical space was needed for verisimilitude. Then the Rechlers abandoned that fiction for a "technology park" (but they reiterated the request for a height variance for no reason at all.)

I rather doubt that Apple, Microsoft, Google or their friends are dying to locate a high-technology unit in Westhampton Beach. We aren't exactly surrounded by renowned universities nor ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Sep 17, 11 3:09 PM
1 member liked this comment
Will Roomlinx be building the IT infrastructure?
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Sep 17, 11 4:51 PM
The Rechlers donated $38,000 to Levy's campaign over the past several years. I wonder how much they donated to ATH and others on the Town Board to pass this diseaster.

What a shame!
By Woohampton (35), Westhampton Beach on Sep 19, 11 10:59 AM
Oh and Anna - if you remember the Rechler's plan on regrading the enitre site so the location of the hotel will be raised to equal Old Riverhead Road. There will be no dipping in the topography at the hotel location.
By Woohampton (35), Westhampton Beach on Sep 19, 11 11:05 AM
This is not a mojor airport to stay overnite for a flight. Summer people do NOT want to stay at an airport, without a beach. And in the Winter we have no tourists. What could we need a huge hotel like that for? They will close before they open...
By M&MS (3), WESTHAMPTON on Sep 19, 11 1:54 PM
1 member liked this comment
we need it for when the casino ends up there, And we all know it is the perfect place
By They call me (2826), southampton on Sep 19, 11 2:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
A fickle lot, indeed...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Sep 19, 11 10:06 PM
"Some rich men came and raped the land,
Nobody caugt 'em.
Put up a bunch of ugly boxes,
And, Jesus, people bought 'em."

~ The Last Resort, Hotel California, The Eagles (1976)

By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Sep 20, 11 9:49 PM