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Mar 4, 2015 11:21 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Discovery Unsure If Westhampton Beach Hotel Will Open This Summer

Mar 4, 2015 12:44 PM

The developers who intend to purchase, raze and eventually rebuild an oceanfront hotel in Westhampton Beach continue to make their way through the permit process in the village, though the building’s immediate future remains unclear.

Representatives for Arizona-based Discovery Land Company were back in front of the Westhampton Beach Planning Board last Thursday, February 26, to discuss their plan to replace the Dune Deck on Dune Road with a new, slightly smaller hotel.

Planning Board Chairman Victor Levy said Discovery Land Company has accommodated all of the board’s requests thus far, including reducing the number of tennis courts on site and securing a variance from the Westhampton Beach Zoning Board of Appeals to allow for a tower to built.

Mr. Levy the developer still needs approval from the Suffolk County Health Department and must establish lighting and drainage plans for the Dune Road property. Once those steps are complete, Mr. Levy anticipates the board will sign off on the project.

“I think it’s a beautiful project plan,” he said. “The hotel down there is what I call a Benjamin Moore building, because it’s held together by the paint on the walls.”

With the summer season less than three months away, the applicant must decide whether it plans to open the hotel come Memorial Day, leave it vacant or, assuming they get all the necessary approvals, tear it down.

The issue is further complicated because of an annual moratorium put on construction and demolition on Dune Road during the summer, Westhampton Beach Building and Zoning Administrator Paul Houlihan said. Even if Discovery Land Company gets permission to raze the building this spring, it would leave little time to complete the new hotel before the July 1 ban takes effect. The ban runs through September.

“I would assume it’s going to start after the summer,” Mr. Houlihan said, “but whether they decide to open for the summer is up to them.”

Water Mill-based attorney David Gilmartin, who is representing Discovery Land Company, said it is too early to say what his client will do with the property this summer, adding that he’d like to get all the necessary approvals before looking ahead to the next step.

“There are a lot of variables out there that have to be answered, so we have to do that to see how things shape up,” Mr. Gilmartin said. “To the best of my knowledge, nothing has been ruled out.”

Mr. Levy said he feels it would make more economic sense for the hotel to open for one more season, so there is at least some revenue generated by the property.

The proposed hotel would boast 66 single-bedroom hotel rooms instead of the current 69-unit layout. Also, it will measure 32,141 square feet instead of 32,264 square feet, and the structure will be built higher off the ground to avoid ongoing flooding issues. The property falls within a Coastal Erosion Hazard Area. The new hotel will still have a restaurant that is open to the public, similar to the current Saltwater Grill venue.

Discovery Land Company is in contract to purchase the property, which was appraised at $6.8 million last year. The company is also working on a mixed-use planned development district in East Quogue called The Hills at Southampton, a development that seeks permission to construct 118 homes and an 18-hole golf course concentrated on 168 acres in the northern part of the hamlet.

The company has told the Westhampton Beach Planning Board that neither project is contingent on the other, and that it plans to move forward with the new hotel even if Southampton Town ultimately rejects the PDD application in East Quogue. Four of five Town Board members, known as a super-majority, must sign off on The Hills application for it to move forward.

Mr. Gilmartin said his client scrapped the plan for two tennis courts on Westhampton Beach property and replaced it with a single, multi-use sports court to appease the neighbors to the east. This change allowed the applicant to maintain the 20-foot setback from the other property.

“It’s been an excellent give and take process,” he said. “It’s a challenging piece of property with the improvements we want to make, but we’ve had a very good open dialogue with the board and with our neighbor to the east.”

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when will we know if it is opening?
By CorVaa (5), on Mar 10, 15 2:04 PM