Judge fines owners of The Arcade in Greenport $5K

The owners of The Arcade in Greenport, which was shut down by the village May 1 for illegal rental apartments in the building and for multiple building and fire safety violations, have been fined $5,000 by Southold Town Justice William Price.

The owners were also ordered to remove a kitchen and partition walls from the building within 30 days.

The Arcade variety store first opened on Front Street in 1928, having previously been on Main Street dating back to 1898, according to reports.

It has had a variety of owners over the years. The current owners took over in 2012, and had high hopes for the business at the time, according to a 2012 interview with the Suffolk Times.

“As a kid, I loved coming here,” owner David Akcay, a Greenport High School graduate, said at the time. “I decided I should try to keep it going.”

Mr. Akcay could not be reached for comment this week.

The Arcade has remained closed since May, when Greenport Village issued 26 summonses against the property owners, 2012 Front Street LLC and Mr. Akcay, for building and fire safety code violations, many relating to the illegal renting of space in the building as living quarters.

In addition, the village filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court in late May carrying many of the same charges that were brought by village officials.

The charges followed a court-ordered search of the premises by Greenport Village code enforcement officer Greg Morris and building inspector Eileen Wingate, along with officials and police from Southold Town.

The first floor of the two-story building has approval as a retail store and the second floor, under current zoning, was supposed to be for commercial storage related to that first-floor retail store only, according to the charges.

“The inspection determined that the first floor of the building has been divided into tiny residential cubby or living units divided by sheets or plywood and makeshift walls,” the charges state.

“The illegally created residential cubby units did not have windows, did not have proper electrical wiring or heat, windows, or any means of egress from the building in the event of a fire or emergency,” they continued.

The second floor of the building “had been illegally altered so that the small commercial storage closets existing on the second floor were converted to tiny sleeping quarters or cubby style bedrooms, with no windows, and the center of the storage unit had been converted to a kitchen and a sitting area with a television.”

The village also said there were no smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors or fire alarms, and that the tiny bedrooms were being used by a “large number of people, with several people living in each of the units,” according to the charges.

The tenants were each being charged $1,500 monthly rent, court papers show.

The property owners were fined $1,000 for building code violations pertaining to illegal alterations, unsafe conditions, inoperable windows and unlit halls and stairways, according to Judge Price’s ruling. A $500 fine was imposed for illegally adding cooking facilities.

Two violations of Greenport Village code also resulted in fines of $250 apiece.

The ruling requires that the Arcade owners remove the kitchen and dividing walls and restore the building to a commercial retail use, as permitted by its Oct. 1, 1984, certificate of occupancy, within 30 days.

By Oct. 13, the property owners must also allow the village fire marshal to inspect the entire premises and obtain certificates showing that electric and plumbing work are up to code. In addition, also by Oct. 13, they must agree to a settlement of the state Supreme Court litigation, which will incorporate the terms and conditions of the Southold Justice Court ruling.

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