Riverside Redevelopment Plan Begins with Office for Developer

This stretch of Peconic Avenue in Riverside will soon be home to the office of a developer looking to change the face of the blighted hamlet.
This stretch of Peconic Avenue in Riverside will soon be home to the office of a developer looking to change the face of the blighted hamlet.

The firm that is partnering with Southampton Town to redevelop the blighted hamlet of Riverside is planning to open an office alongside the Peconic River on May 1.

Renaissance Downtowns Vice President of Development Sean McLean, who lives in Flanders, told the Southampton Town Board at a work session April 10 that his firm is leasing office space at 110 Peconic Avenue, next door to the town’s boat launch across the street from the Peconic Paddler.

He said members of the community and business owners will be welcome to stop in and share their ideas for revitalizing Riverside.

“It will be very nice to have an amenity right there at the traffic circle,” he said. “People can park in the kayak and canoe launch, or come in to our office from the water. It’s a great area to really engage the community. There’s a lot of traffic there with the Peconic Paddler in the summer.”

Renaissance Downtowns is currently looking for local residents to work as community liaisons in the office. Mr. McLean said applicants who have expertise in social media and community communications can send their resumés to him directly at smclean@renaissancedowntowns.com.

Wayne Bruyn, the attorney for Renaissance Downtowns, said his client is “assuming a big responsibility” in preparing an action plan for downtown Riverside without being paid by the town. The plan will take a year to prepare, he said, and after their recommendations are given to the town, some rezoning may be needed in order for the company to build anything that generates revenue.

“Renaissance is assuming a big responsibility, all the risk, in the initial stages as far as doing the planning work,” he said.

“It’s not just a planning exercise. This is the actual implement of revitalization,” said Mr. McLean. “All these things that we recommend must directly result in the development of buildings. That’s very important to us. We take that very seriously. We want to take that and put it into action and get something into the ground as soon as possible.”

Much of the development in Riverside would be dependent on the installation of a sewer system. Suffolk County completed a study last fall on potentially putting a small sewage treatment plant on Route 104, which would be connected to 17 properties in the center of Riverside.

The county estimated that project would cost about $3.75 million to build.

Town Planner Kyle Collins said at Thursday’s work session that he believes private developers will help fund the sewer infrastructure.

“That’s key,” he said.

“There’s a lot we can do to improve on existing conditions,” said Mr. McLean. “We have to have a beneficial impact on the overall environment. It’s not our goal to provide for ourselves and not provide for the rest of the community.”

Mr. McLean said his firm needs to get a sign permit and do some work on the interior of the office before they open, and he hopes community members will help name their social media site. He’s planning to discuss the naming of the site with the Flanders, Riverside, Northampton Community Association.

Also at Thursday’s work session, Suffolk County Department of Public Works Chief Engineer Bill Hillman told the board that the county’s work to redesign the Riverside roundabout will likely begin in 2016.

The county plans to elongate the circle in the center of the roundabout, to make it “duck egg-shaped” and make it two lanes wide, in order to improve traffic flow. The new, oval-shaped roundabout will still have five roads entering and exiting.

The county plans to use 3,000 square feet of town parkland to elongate the circle, and will give the town 8,000 square feet of county land on the south side of the Peconic River behind the Peconic Paddler in exchange. Mr. Hillman said the county will need special state legislation to use the parkland. He hopes to have the new legislation in place by the end of the year.

“It’s a huge job because of the complexity of building it,” he said of the roundabout, which is expected to cost $4 million.

Mr. Hillman said if the sewer plans are figured out before the road is reconfigured, pipes can be placed under the roadbed while county crews are at work.

“Pipe is generally cheap, especially if we’re opening the road up,” he said.

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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