New stores and restaurants are returning to downtown Riverhead, but there are more than a handful of empty or boarded-up storefronts in the community, a sign of the hard times Riverhead, and the country, has faced.
Riverhead Patch is going to spotlight some of these vacant businesses to start a discussion in the community about what can, could or should be done to make use of the abandoned places across town and revitalize Riverhead.
Though not technically in Riverhead, the Flanders/Riverside community is so closely interwoven with the town to the north that its vacancies have an impact on downtown Riverhead, and vice versa.
Just across the Peconic River, visible from Riverhead's Main Street, lies the Old Riverboat Diner and Pito's Pizzeria property at the Riverside traffic circle. Since it's lain vacant the property has courted numerous suitors - from Bridgehampton National Bank to IHOP to Denny's to 7-Eleven - though nobody has moved in.
An asking price of $2 million, reportedly with little wiggle room, has scared some tenants from moving in.
Nonetheless, listing agent Anita Whalen asked "What wouldn't do well there?" citing a traffic study that counted over 65,000 cars driving through the roundabout on a daily basis.
Despite the heavy traffic and large space - the diner holds 175 seats, accommodates 75 parking spaces, and 5,500 square feet - Brad Bender, a former president of the Flanders Riverside Northampton Civic Association, said he's "come to the opinion, personally, that the gentleman who owns the property isn't concerned about occupying it."
Several studies have been done on the area in recent years, including the following:
- Riverside Urban Renewal Plan (2009)
- Riverside Hamlet Center: A Vision for the Future (2008)
- Flanders/Riverside/Northampton Revitalization Study (2004)
Suffolk County is also in the process of conducting studies to determine what should be changed, if anything, at the traffic circle, and .
We're curious what our readers would like to see here and why. Please tell us in the comments.