Developer: Former Fish Express site safe for now

There won’t be condominiums or a high-and-dry boat storage yard at the former Fish Express site in Greenport, at least not in the immediate future.

But developer Richard Raskin warned villagers at last week’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) meeting that if zoning codes aren’t changed,  future development there could be anything but what they want.

“We can’t hold on to yesterday forever,” Mr. Raskin said, explaining that the code allowing boat storage racks wasn’t what he and his partner or neighbors  wanted at the site, at the intersection of Sterling Street and Sterling Place. But a condo use they did want would have been prohibited had it not been for the intervention of former mayor Dave Kapell, who engineered an agreement that pleased both the developers and neighbors.

“We were pleased that we were sued by neighbors who objected to the boat yard plan,” he said, because it ultimately led to a settlement that enabled them to plan a condominium complex on the site, which they’d wanted from the get-go.

It took several years of meetings, hearings and negotiations before the developers finally won approval to construct a building with a marine garage on the ground floor and 17 condominiums on the second and third floors. Five of the units were to be priced to provide workforce housing.

But by the time those approvals were obtained, the bottom had fallen out of the economy and all plans were put on hold. Now, the owners have the two-acre property on the market and it will fall to someone else to eventually identify a use for the site.

“We didn’t want to build in this environment,” Mr. Raskin said, explaining the reasons he and his partners put the property up for sale.

Whether the approvals extended to the principals of 123 Sterling will carry over to a new owner remains to be seen, Mr. Raskin said.

But, he said, the original waterfront commercial zoning that existed on the site might not be in keeping with the best planning interests of the neighborhood.

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