Workers pried the familiar black-and-white letters from the side of the shuttered Westhampton Bowl last week, a sign that the owners of the Sunset Avenue property are moving forward with plans to renovate the building and open a restaurant and shops there.
In May, the Westhampton Beach Village Planning Board signed off on the plans, which also call for the construction of two 5,000-square-foot, two-story buildings where a gas station once stood just north of the bowling alley. The station and accompanying auto repair shop were demolished in 2007, leaving the property at the corner of Sunset Avenue and Mill Road barren. The neighboring bowling alley closed its doors for good in 2008.
The owners, listed in village records as Sunset West LLC and Teserra LLC, have approval to open a 3,500-square-foot, 50-seat restaurant and bar, a roughly 3,000-square-foot luncheonette and 12 1,200-square-foot office and retail spaces—including one with approval to sell food and drinks—in the former bowling alley building, as well as retail and office spaces in the two new structures.
“It’s about time,” Maxine Scheinert, who has been a seasonal resident of the village for about 30 years, said on Monday afternoon, expressing a relief shared by many upon hearing the news that the property would finally be redeveloped.
She said she would prefer to have a new bowling alley, but would welcome any change. “Get that sore sight away,” Ms. Scheinert said.
Don Jewell, a Southampton architect who is overseeing the plans, explained that the owners have flexibility in the number of tenants that could occupy the buildings. If they find one business owner who wants to rent out the entire space, that is permitted, he said.
“Ideally, it would be one—and ideally, it would be a bowling alley, but that’s probably not going to happen,” he said.
The owners had originally planned to renovate and reopen the bowling alley, but had difficulty securing a tenant after the economic downturn, Mr. Jewell explained.
The construction is set to occur in three phases, according to village officials, with the renovations of the bowling alley structure, landscaping of the entire property and completion of the parking lot to take place in the first phase. The second and third phases will involve the construction of the two additional buildings that will front Sunset Avenue and feature parking in the rear.
Mr. Jewell said construction will begin once the owners acquire a building permit, which could happen within the next few months, and the first phase could take anywhere from six months to a year to complete. The start of the second and third phases depends on how quickly the owners are able to secure tenants in the other building.
“They don’t want to build a lot of vacant space,” Mr. Jewell said.
The owners are required to post bond before construction can begin, according to village officials.
Pan-Brothers Associates, a Manhattan development firm that owns Sunset West LLC and Teserra LLC, did not return calls seeking comment this week.
Westhampton Beach Village Building Inspector Paul Houlihan said the plans meet the village’s design standards for the B-1 Zoning District, which were established to encourage pedestrian-friendly development. Renderings of the completed site depict red-and-white brick buildings fronting the sidewalks with white pillars at the entrances.