Two Barns, Gym Would Be First In New Bridgehampton Development

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A developer has submitted designs for the first phase of long-dormant plans to develop a stretch of land across Montauk Highway from the Bridgehampton Commons.

Representatives for Carol Konner, the owner of the land, have submitted a site plan pre-application to the Southampton Town Planning Board showing sketches of two barn-like buildings, totaling a little more than 27,000 square feet on approximately 6 acres of land.

Both buildings are expected to be occupied by Equinox, a fitness company, according to Ms. Konner’s attorney, Wayne Bruyn. The application will be reviewed publicly by the Planning Board at its meeting on October 24.

The buildings, and use as a gym, would conform to the parcel’s “highway business” zoning designation. One of the two buildings would be about 14,000 square feet, the other just over 13,000 square feet. Mr. Bruyn said the buildings were designed with the town’s 15,000-square-foot maximum in mind, even though the gym company would have preferred one larger structure. There would be 150 parking spaces associated with the two buildings, as required by the town code.

Mr. Bruyn said the two buildings would be the first step in the development, while Ms. Konner decides what to do with the rest of the adjacent property. She owns a total of 13 acres of land along the highway, stretching from the vacant field known as “Strawberry Fields” to the building that currently houses a Sleepy’s mattress store, including the Carvel ice cream stand. The parcel that would be developed first contains only an abandoned and long-vacant former restaurant building.

She purchased the parcel proposed for development last winter from former Barnes & Noble Chairman Leonard Riggio, along with four other adjacent parcels. She and a partner, J.R. Siwicki, own another parcel in the midst of the Riggio parcels, the vacant field known commonly as “Strawberry Fields,” which hosts the annual Bridgehampton Fire Department carnival. Ms. Konner said there are no plans to develop that parcel.

Ms. Konner said she would bring designs for the project to the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee and is dedicated to developing the entire property in a way that will be welcomed by the Bridgehampton community and town planners.

Ms. Konner said she does not have a timeline for the development of the rest of the land. She said the Carvel store could remain, or it may be moved to another part of the property as part of the development plans, as they evolve.

“I’ve lived here since 1971. I’m looking to work hand in hand with the town and not do something that will evoke criticism,” she said. “I think the restorations that I have done were all well-received by the town. If the town wants to keep the Carvel, that’s okay. We may have to move it to where it belongs, but we’ll see.”

The highway business zone allows for a variety of retail and restaurant and general low-traffic businesses. In 2003, Mr. Riggio and his company proposed creating a “planned development district,” or PDD, to free themselves from the restrictions and build a sprawling shopping mall with 90,000 square feet of retail space, anchored by a 20,000-square-foot bookstore.

Known as the “Bridgehampton Gateway,” the project never had strong support from members of the Town Board and was one of the catalysts for the town capping the size of retail stores at 15,000 square feet, in an attempt to block “big box” retailers from moving onto the South Fork.

“Right now, we’re only interested in developing the eastern lot with two barn-style buildings—nothing exotic or outlandish,” Ms. Konner added. “We’re not going to ask for any variances or zoning changes, just what falls into the highway business use. I want to do something aesthetically attractive, and that has an agricultural feel to it, with a modern flair.”

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