Ballet studio, boutique coming to downtown Riverhead

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTOS | Two new businesses have recently signed leases for property on East Main Street.

Two new East Main Street stores, a ballet studio and fashion shop, will join a growing group of businesses in downtown Riverhead after signing leases this month.

The businesses both signed lease agreements in November, an unusual time of year for new businesses to be seeking space, said Shelly Gordon, who owns many of the vacant buildings on the south side of Main Street, including the space for two new stores.

“One would think that’s the last time people would be optimistic enough to sign leases,” he said. “It’s like a rebirth.”

The first new business is Peconic Ballet Theater, a dance studio that will open at 71 East Main St., Mr. Gordon said. The studio will be neighbors with 73 Main, a fashion boutique that opened this spring.

Christiana Bitonti, owner of the new studio, said the school will be run by DanceCore Performing Arts, a non-profit dance group that performs primarily at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center. The studio will be the group’s first after they decided Riverhead would be the best location.

“We have yet to get a home base, so now we’re sticking with the East End,” Ms. Bitonti said.

It was the artistic appeal of Riverhead, with East End Arts and the under-renovation Suffolk Theater in the downtown area, that brought the company to town, she said.

“I just feel that Riverhead is one of those areas that’s ready to go,” she said. “It’s ready to take it to the next level … It houses so much creativity and so many creative outlets.”

The new studio will be used by members of the performing group to teach ballet, contemporary, modern, jazz and hip-hop dancing.

“It’s really one-on-one training with dancers in the business,” Ms. Bitonti said. The group will be doing construction to transform the space into a “New York industrial”-style studio, with one large dance floor and high ceilings, she said.

The studio is expected to open in early January, and the group is planning a grand opening performance for members of the community in February.

The second new business will be Chic Creations, a clothing, jewelry and fashion accessories shop located next to the Robert James Salon on East Main Street.

The owners of Chic Creations were unable to be reached for comment Thursday morning.

“It’s the kind of niche tenant that downtown needs desperately,” Mr. Gordon said. “These are the kind of tenants that can put us back on the map.”

The store owners are set to take occupancy in early December, he said, though he was unsure of when Chic Creations would open.

He said he believes the new Summerwind apartment complex, Hyatt hotel near the Long Island Aquarium and a series of new restaurants has triggered a “renaissance” for the area after years of stagnant or little growth.

The new businesses, Mr. Gordon said, may entice other entrepreneurs to try downtown Riverhead, saying that he is open to working on deals with business owners to fill the additional vacant properties downtown.

“It’s kind of an infectious-type situation,” he said.