Members of the Riverside community trekked to Southampton Town Hall last Thursday to present the action plan to redevelop their neighborhood to the Southampton Town Board.
The central concept of the plan is to adopt a “form-based” zoning overlay district, which property owners could use instead of the underlying zoning on their properties when they plan redevelopment. Under the new zoning, apartments would be created above necessary retail shops and access to the natural features of the waterfront hamlet would be highlighted, creating an area where people can work, live and play.
Master Developer Renaissance Downtowns is proposing six new overlay districts, most of which would be in concentric areas around the traffic circle, with the tallest buildings and the greatest number of uses closest to the traffic circle and more limited development with each ring out from there.
If property owners decide to opt in to the new zoning, they will also be required to implement green building designs and hire local workers.
Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst praised community members, many of whom took time off from work to attend the morning work session April 30, and said it’s been her goal since she joined the town board eight years ago to make people in the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton area feel they are “as much a part of the community as every other part of town.”
The town is now in the process of hiring a firm to conduct an analysis of the plan under the State Environmental Quality Review Act, to be paid for with a portion of a $250,000 Brownfields Opportunity Area grant from New York State.
Ms. Throne-Holst said she plans to take the plan on the road, showing it to county representatives, investors in the private sector, state lawmakers and anyone who will listen to her pitch to help bring major investment to Riverside.
“We want to drum up that level of interest for this,” she said. “We want to make sure we take advantage of all government and private sector financing and make sure no stone is left unturned in looking for people who want to invest in this.”
Renaissance Downtowns Vice President Sean McLean outlined the community’s input on the project, from deciding what kind of architecture they’d like to see in Riverside — clapboard buildings with porches, balconies and dining on the street — to areas where the people who live there now feel unsafe and what types of services they’d most like to have in their community.
Ms. Throne-Holst said she’s counting on funding from Suffolk County for the redesign of Riverside’s central traffic circle next year, and for continuing to work on a sewer solution for the community.
“The live, work, play environment is of huge importance to the longterm sustainability of the East End,” said Mr. McLean. “Diversified housing is the cornerstone of what we’re trying to do here. We want to make sure the workforce of Southampton has some place to be. When they receive their paycheck from working in town, they can spend their money in the town as well, visiting other local entrepreneurs.”
“This whole idea has looked east,” he added. “The East End needs this. It’s not just about Riverside. it’s about a regional solution to a regional problem.”