The Surf Club in Westhampton, which was closed for the last two summers as the aging building fell further into disrepair, will likely reopen soon as “Club Nitro.”
The new tenants of the building, which is located at 91 Montauk Highway, have applied to the Southampton Town Planning Board to make several improvements to the nightclub before re-opening, though the Planning Board has not yet deemed their application complete.
The club has a certificate of occupancy but the building is in “deplorable condition,” according to Thomas P. McHenry, a consultant from the Yaphank-based firm Liberty Permit and Research, who is working as the project coordinator for the renovation.
The property is owned by Quogue resident John D. Crowley, though the renovations are being proposed by the tenant, Club Nitro, whose vice president is Richard DeMano. A telephone number on file with the Planning Board for Mr. DeMano was not operational this week.
The proposed renovations include adding internal partition walls, changing the doors and windows, updating the electrical system and converting an existing apartment in the building into an office.
The run-down, wood-framed building was built in 1962 and had at one point been called Gene’s Restaurant, according to the Planning Board file.
The application to the Planning Board was submitted after the new tenants received a stop work order from the town when they attempted to replace the doors and windows in June.
The Surf Club closed for the last time in October 2006. Members of the town’s code enforcement department had initially been skeptical of whether the new tenants could operate a nightclub at that spot, since nightclubs are special exception uses that, once abandoned, are no longer valid.
The tenants’ attorney, David Gilmartin Jr., researched the club’s operational history and provided documents to the Planning Board showing that the club had not been open for only 20 months at the time the stop work order was issued, more than a year short of the 36 months necessary for interpreters of the town’s code to consider the use to have been abandoned.
Though The Surf Club’s MySpace page advertises appearances by Playboy bunnies, lingerie-clad bartenders and pictures of scantily clad women pouring liquor into the mouths of eager young men, the new tenants say they hope the new establishment will have a less debauched atmosphere.
In a letter to the Planning Board explaining the application, Mr. McHenry stated that “the changes we propose are to provide a safe environment and an air of respectability.”