Pictured Above: The site where Riverhead plans to build a new town square, across Main Street from the Suffolk Theater

New York State announced Dec. 20 the projects to be funded under Riverhead’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Grant, which include $3.24 million for the new Town Square project; $2.75 million for a mixed-use development on Griffing Avenue; $2 million for the expansion of the Suffolk Theater; $750,000 for pedestrian enhancements on Main Street; $245,000 for an adaptive playground on the riverfront; $250,000 each for public art and rowing programs and $215,000 for a new entrance and welcome center at the Riverhead Library.

Downtowns in Riverhead and Amityville had each received $10 million in Downtown Revitalization Grants from New York State in January of 2022. The towns have since been working on the process of developing Strategic Investment Plans to revitalize their downtowns.

The biggest part of the award, for the Town Square, is to support J. Petrocelli Contracting, chosen by the town in April 2022 as a master developer for the square, in its plan for an 80-room boutique hotel, condominiums with pedestal parking underneath them, a firehouse museum with community work space on the second floor, a boathouse on the riverfront, an amphitheater, a playground, a fountain and lawn games. 

The Suffolk Theater, across the street from the Town Square, received a grant to expand its theater stage and add green room and back of house functions, all as a component of a larger development with residential units that include workforce housing.

The Griffing Avenue project is part of the revitalization of the area around Riverhead’s Long Island Rail Road station, where master developers RXR Realty and Georgica Green Ventures have proposed a new mixed use building, with workforce housing and retail commercial space as well as a parking garage, on a county-owned lot across the street from the Suffolk County Supreme Court.

After the grant was announced in January, “a local planning committee was formed to provide advisory guidance on how to move potential projects forward in the most efficient and effective manner possible,” said Riverhead Community Development Director Dawn Thomas. “Now that key projects have been approved for funding by the state we believe that Downtown Riverhead will fully realize its full economic development potential.”

That committee was co-chaired by former Greenport Mayor David Kappell, who has since been involved with economic development in Suffolk County, and Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar.

“I commend Governor Hochul, along with Riverhead Supervisor Aguiar and the Town Board, for the collaboration that has culminated in today’s announcement,” said Mr. Kappell. “As the seat of Suffolk County government, Riverhead plays an important role in Long Island’s history, and in its future. The projects announced today will prove critical to revitalizing downtown in a way that responds to extensive public outreach and planning, and to restoring it to its rightful place at the heart of life on Long Island. I am excited to see what comes next for downtown Riverhead.”

“On behalf of the entire Riverhead Town Board I want to sincerely thank Governor Hochul for believing in Riverhead,” said Ms. Aguiar, adding that Riverhead “worked closely with the entire state DRI Team during the last six months to advance critical downtown projects in order to put Governor Hochul in the position to choose ones to receive DRI funding at this time.”

“We are committed to revitalizing Long Island, and these investments will create a more walkable, vibrant downtown that will benefit generations of New Yorkers who call Riverhead home,” said Governor Hochul. “These projects will enhance public spaces and create more affordable housing opportunities, and my administration will continue to prioritize transformational projects that will strengthen communities across New York.”

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she 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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