Water Mill Project Finally Breaks Ground

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After being stuck in a quagmire of red tape for the last three years, Water Mill Ateliersâ??a state-of-the-art office facility that includes six affordable housing unitsâ??is finally set to break ground.

With the old building now demolished, the 1.18 acre footprint on David’s Lane and Montauk Highway in Water Mill will be the foundation for three separate buildings, two of which will house three rental units each with the third remaining structure committed solely to commercial use.

Lou Meisel, the owner of the property and the project’s developer, said last week that he’s optimistic the work would be completed within seven months and that tenants would be housed in the buildings by next spring. Glenn Heidtmann and Sons of Cutchogue are doing the construction.

Making the concept a reality not only addresses the affordable housing issueâ??which by all accounts is sorely neededâ??but it also lays the groundwork for green construction and design. According to Mr. Meisel, Water Mill Ateliers will be the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certified project at the Platinum level, the highest achievable classification. Sag Harbor architect James Merrell conceptualized the project and his blueprints garnered a merit award from the American Institute of Architects last year.

Some of the green innovations in the 600-square-foot, one-bedroom apartments include bamboo flooring, recycled carpets and insulation made from denim cut outs. Mr. Meisel explained that denim shards from companies that make jeans and other denim products are used in place of traditional insulation such as fiberglass.

“It’s healthier and better for the environment,” Mr. Meisel said.

The units are crafted to utilize approximately 95 percent natural light, which will cut down on the use of electricity, a cost that tenants will not be responsible for paying.

“Because these apartments are going to be so efficient we can afford to pay for certain amenities,” Mr. Meisel said. The units will also feature wireless and broadband technology and Skype phones, which work through the internet at a cost of only two cents a minute for all calls.

The apartments will rent for $1,200 per month.

“These are going to be beautiful, class A apartments,” Mr. Meisel said. “Anyone would want to live there.”

Those wishing to rent the apartments must qualify for affordable housing under Southampton Town regulations.

The commercial spaces range from 1,000 to 3,000 square feet and, like the housing components, will include air conditioning and heat, electricity, wireless internet and outdoor maintenance.

According to Mr. Meisel’s son, Ari Meisel, a LEED-certified professional developer and the project’s manager, the facility will be 42 percent more efficient than a comparable base structure and will save more than 100,000 gallons of water.

“This is going to be one of the healthiest places to live and work,” the younger Mr. Meisel said.

Having spent some $3 million on the project, with $1 million going into the purchase of the old building and the remaining $2 million allocated to the new construction, the elder Mr. Meisel said he is expecting a “rational return” on his investment, although he said he could have made more money had he not dedicated space to affordable housing.

“I’m passionate about the environment and the issue of affordable housing,” Mr. Meisel said. “I’ve done very well for myself in this community and I wanted to give something back.”

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