Two separate proposals now filed for opposite ends of Route 58

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The former Rolle Brothers property on Route 58.

Developers recently filed two separate Route 58 building proposals with Riverhead Town, one that would construct a Marriott hotel on the western end of the busy thoroughfare and another that calls for a restaurant and stores near the eastern end.

Browning Hotel Enterprises filed a site plan application late last month to build a second hotel, a 137-room Marriott Residence Inn, on the same seven-acre parcel as the 114-room Hilton Garden Inn that sits on the north side of Route 58 across from Tanger Outlets.

That proposal was filed with Riverhead Town about the same time a restaurant and retail plan was proposed for the site of the former Rolle Brothers farm machinery store, just east of Ostrander Avenue. Richmond Realty of Riverhead, which bought the six-acre Rolle site two years ago and demolished the vacant buildings there, has submitted a site plan application that seeks to develop a total of 38,400 square feet in four buildings on the property.

Hotel developer Lee Browning received site plan approval for both hotels in September 2006 but the approval called for phased development. In order to build the second hotel, the approval required Mr. Browning to purchase 71.8 development rights credits from farmland targeted for preservation within Riverhead Town’s Agricultural Protection Zone, which is mostly located south of Sound Avenue and north of Middle Road.

The site plan submitted last month contains some changes from what was approved in 2006 — including alterations to the footprint of the proposed second hotel and a reduction in its size, from five stories to four. Therefore, additional town approvals are needed.

“It allows us to build a building similar to the one we built,” Mr. Browning said in an interview Friday, referring to the Hilton Garden Inn. “If you build four stories or less, you can build with panelized wood. If you go over that, you have to have one floor in masonry and we chose not to do that.”

The new hotel also may be a “green building” that achieves certain standards in energy efficiency, according to Mr. Browning.
“We are working with LIPA to make it a green building and it probably will be the most green building on Long Island,” he said.
Geothermal hearing and solar panels are among the green technologies being considered.

“There’s a whole host of items we are working with LIPA on,” Mr. Browning said. “We don’t know how far we will take it, but there are whole host of rebates we are applying for. Marriott is very much in favor of a green building and we will make this building an example for Long Island.”

Asked if there was a market for more hotels in Riverhead, given that Atlantis Marine World is also building a new hotel downtown, Mr. Browning said, “If we couldn’t convince the banks of that, we wouldn’t be doing it. And you can’t argue with the two most top-of-the-line brands in the world in Marriott and Hilton.”

He anticipates construction with take about 10 months once approvals are secured. He said he has not yet purchased the required development rights.

In April, the Town Board approved an permit for Mr. Browning that allowed excavation for the second hotel to begin. The permit allows excavation of 14,235 cubic yards of sand, which will generate $28,470 in fees for the town.

At the former Rolle Brothers location, a proposal filed under the name Riverhead Commons calls for construction of an 8,000-square-foot restaurant on the eastern portion of the property and three retail buildings measuring 21,900, 6,000 and 2,500 square feet. The smallest of these is slated for the southern portion of the property, closest to Route 58.

No specific tenants are mentioned in the application.

Richard Israel of Richmond Realty said he couldn’t identify tenants yet but he said the site’s zoning would allow uses such as a theme restaurant, a bank or regular retail.

He said the property is zoned Shopping Center but should be zoned Business Center because, under the town code, a minimum of 50,000 square feet of development is required in the Shopping Center zone and, under the same code, the site doesn’t have enough acreage to build 50,000 square feet.

Mr. Israel said this means he will need to obtain a variance from the town Zoning Board of Appeals for the Riverhead Commons project.

The land to east and north of the site is vacant and owned by Suffolk County. The property borders a car dealership to the west.
Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter this week said he sees the continued growth of commercial development on Route 58 as a good thing.

“I think it’s a great way to add to the town’s tax base and the shopping that I think residents in Riverhead and the East End love,” he said, adding that the county has recently gotten the traffic lights on the newly widened highway timed correctly.

“When I drive up 58 and I see all those new crisp, clean stores, it makes me happy,” Mr. Walter said. “I think it’s a great asset.”

The landmark Rolle Brothers buildings existed at that site for more than 50 years before closing several years ago. The property was sold to 372 Jericho Corp,, which sold it to Exxon Mobil in 2003. Exxon Mobil sought to build a gas station and convenience store there in 2004, but the Planning Board urged the Town Board to reject the proposal, claiming there already were too many gas stations in the area. The application eventually was dropped.

Exxon Mobil sold the property to Richmond Realty in 2009.

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