New York State Senator Ken LaValle, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Legislator Al Kruspski and representatives from the Long Island Housing Partnership and Woolworth Revitalization LLC met with town officials Tuesday to announce proposed legislation that would provide $250,000 in capital funds to offset infrastructure costs associated with utility improvements, drainage and excavation for the rehabilitation of the old Woolworth building, located at 130 East Main Street.
“The revitalization of Suffolk’s downtowns is critical to a sustainable economic future for Suffolk County,” Bellone said. “The lack of quality affordable housing is an ongoing challenge, one we are committed to conquering. Not only will this building continue to further the efforts of revitalizing downtown Riverhead and provide for much needed affordable rental housing but during the construction phase of the project 125 construction jobs will be created with an additional 100 retail jobs created once the project is completed.”
The mixed-use building will include 25,000 square feet of retail space, with Maximus Health Club and a Goldberg’s Famous Bagels set to move in. The upper level will include 15,000 square feet of 19 affordable rentals including six studios, 10-one bedroom apartments and three-two bedroom apartments. All of the rental units will be affordable to households under 80 percent of the HUD area median income.
"It's the right project, in the right place, at the right time,” LaValle said. “It will bring people downtown and continue to ignite a vibrant downtown area."
“The rich history of Riverhead is truly important to the residents of Riverhead and Suffolk County,” Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter said. “The commitment of the Woolworth Revitalization LLC to develop the old Woolworth building and preserve the historic nature of this structure is to be commended. This development will continue the efforts of revitalization and add to the much needed housing stock on Long Island.”
Michael Butler, developer and managing member of Woolworth Revitalization LLC, said he was happy to parter with the town to help breathe life into downtown. "Our project will continue to complement the revitalization efforts already underway in Riverhead and will provide for affordable rental housing. Many of our young people continue to relocate off Long Island because they want to be in bustling downtowns and want to live somewhere where they can afford.The Woolworth Revitalization LLC, is helping to fill that void while at the same time preserving the historic nature of Riverhead’s downtown beauty.”
So far, the county has poured over $3 million into downtown Riverhead's rebirth.
Recently, the county also gave financial support to Summerwind Square, a 52-unit, all affordable mixed use development which supported the redevelopment of blighted lots on the Peconic River in downtown Riverhead. The development contains 52 rental units, 4,000 square feet under lease to Bridgehampton National Bank and 4,000 square feet under lease to Joe’s Garage restaurant, Bellone said.
In October, Michael Butler, owner of the former Woolworth Building, located at 130 East Main Street, discussed the news that Goldberg's Famous Bagels would be moving into a space at the site, hopefully by December or early next year.Goldberg's Famous Bagels also has locations in Southampton and East Hampton.
While there was once a bagel store in the building, Butler said the new business has no relation to that shop.
The goal, Butler said, is to make the building look like it did in the 1950s. Goldberg's Famous Bagels will occupy the space on the east side of property.
The business is the second to be announced for the Woolworth building, where new life is being breathed as work is ongoing to complete its transformation.
A gym is also expected to open in the coming months.
"It's going to be amazing, a beautiful space," Butler said, of the gym.
Apartments will be available for rent upstairs, but those will not be completed until the commercial work is done, he said.
In addition, there is still 3000 square feet of commercial rental space to be leased. "We're getting a lot of inquiries but we're open to people who are interested," he said.
With the new businesses and the recently unveiled Vines & Hops across the street, Butler said downtown is in the midst of rebirth.
"It shows that there's a real upswing. People want to be here. And after the apartments get done, there will be even more of a demand. The town's going to have a lot more foot traffic in just a short while," Butler said.
Walter said he was thrilled by the news of the new store.
"I'm really excited," he said. "Having all these name brands come to downtown Riverhead, this is all going to feed on itself, in a positive way, no pun intended."
The supervisor said he was glad to see local businesses like Dark Horse Restaurant mixing it up with big East End names such as Goldberg's Famous Bagels. "To think that they think enough of us to come, that success begets future success."