Aguiar: State Historic Preservation Office accepts demolition of Main Street building


Riverhead Town has reached an agreement with the New York State Historic Preservation Office to allow the demolition of a historic building on East Main Street to make way for the planned town square, Supervisor Yvette Aguiar announced today.

The 117 East Main Street building, one of Swezey’s former department stores, was designated a “contributory resource” when the historic Main Street area was listed on the National Register in 2012. The building was a contributory resource because of its facade and front windows, according to Riverhead Landmarks Preservation Commission Chairman Richard Wines.

The city is now seeking to have the unoccupied and dilapidated building removed as a contributing asset. But the State Historic Preservation Office needs to agree, so that the federal and state grants the city hopes to get are not jeopardized.

“After reviewing a substantial amount of documents compiled by the Department of Community Development, SHPO agreed that there was no prudent and / or feasible alternative to demolition,” Aguiar said in a statement.

The State Historic Preservation Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Render of a town square in the center of the Main Street business district. Image: Associates in Urban Design

City Council authorized the purchase of the building and two adjacent buildings on the south side of East Main Street from Riverhead Enterprises for $ 4.85 million. The city concluded the deal in May. Authorities plan to demolish two of the buildings – at 117 and 121 East Main Street – and work with a private entity to renovate and expand the third building, located at 127 East Main Street, a two-story building occupied by commercial tenants in two floors.

The state has agreed that the three buildings can be razed, if the city deems it necessary, Aguiar said.

Plans for the town square, developed by consultant Urban Design Associates, envision the building at 127 East Main and the adjacent building at 117 East Main to the west – which was purchased by the LI Science Center – to “frame »The town square with small shops. The newly created green space will provide a connection between Main Street and the riverside.

Representatives from the State Historic Preservation Office traveled to Riverhead last month to meet with city officials and tour the site.

“The Town of Riverhead is more than pleased that this transformation project can now proceed in earnest,” Aguiar said today. “The State Historic Preservation Office has been cooperative, reasonable and receptive to working with Riverhead to ensure that a mutually beneficial solution has been found,” she said.

The Supervisor thanked MP Jodi Giglio, former City Councilor for Riverhead and long-time City Council Liaison to the Monuments Committee, for arranging the visit to SHPO.

“As a representative of Riverhead in Albany, I felt it was my responsibility to help facilitate a productive dialogue with SHPO,” said Giglio. “I have no doubts that Riverhead Town Square will make a significant contribution to the economic renaissance of downtown Riverhead and the Long Island area,”

Landmarks Chairman Wines said the Monuments Commission was delighted that the SHPO agreed that there was no workable alternative to demolishing buildings to make way for the town square.

“We look forward to working with them on this important project and sharing their focus to make sure it fits and is compatible with our historic downtown architecture,” Wines said.

The next step is SHPO’s development of a resolution letter that will document the alternatives assessed and mitigation measures to be taken to minimize historical impacts, said Director of Community Development Dawn Thomas.

“These measures may include the remembrance of 117 East Main Street to SHPO standards, the recovery of defining features, the creation and installation of a commemorative plaque commemorating 117 East Main Street and its significance to the historic district, and the continuation of consultations with SHPO during the construction of the city. Square is making progress, ”according to a press release issued by the supervisor today.

The main goal of the town square project is to reorient the pedestrian orientation of the traditional main street to the Peconic Riverwalk, officials said.

“The city intends to transform some of the city’s existing waterfront parking lots into public gathering areas, with performance spaces, splash fountains, permeable brick / stone paths and rain gardens. These rain and river-friendly areas will provide amenities for community members while helping to capture occasional flooding that has occurred near the Peconic River. In addition, the site will include interactive environmental learning stations, ”says the city’s press release.

Riverhead Town applied for a multi-million dollar federal grant in July and continues to aggressively seek other federal, state and county funding opportunities to pursue economic redevelopment goals, Thomas said. She said it is likely that a public-private partnership will be needed to fully develop the town square.

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