American Beech plans to expand with new lobby, additional rooms

American Beech Hotel in Greenport Village plans to expand into the space currently home to The Doofpot, which will close this fall.

The site plan, presented at Thursday’s Village Planning Board joint work session and regular meeting, calls for converting the north side of The Doofpot into the American Beech lobby. A second-floor apartment would be modified into two commercial hotel units. And the attic space on the third floor would also be converted into a hotel room, according to architect Robert Brown, who was representing the company Stirling Square LLC.

Stirling Square, home to the American Beech boutique hotel and restaurant and other retailers, saw substantial renovations after owner Brent Pelton purchased the square in 2014. The Doofpot owners have rented the space for their store since Mr. Pelton acquired the property.

The architect said he’s hopeful work can begin once The Doofpot closes sometime this fall. Mary Ann Zovko and Jaap Hilbrand opened The Doofpot, a specialty imported ceramics store, in 1973 and they decided to close once their lease is up this year.

Besides what is currently The Doofpot, the first floor remains unoccupied. Earlier this year, the Planning Board granted approval to label the space fit for public assembly use, Mr. Brown said.

The property is located in the Commercial Retail district and the Historic District.

The new lobby would maintain its entrance on Main Road and have an additional entrance with a glass wall in the courtyard of Stirling Square. The current American Beech lobby would likely be used as a retail space, Mr. Brown said.

Board member John Cotugno said he noticed in the plan that Mr. Brown tried to make the front entrance handicapped accessible, but in this instance, it isn’t practical.

The current lobby that would be converted into a retail space. (Credit: Kate Nalepinski)

“You can’t have a ramp go right up to a door,” he said. “That’s actually worse than having a step. It’s more unsafe for a handicapped person to approach a door while [they are] on an angle.”

The site plan also calls for converting the first floor from retail to assembly status. Mr. Cotugno suggested Mr. Brown “consult with a code expert” to determine if wheelchair accessibility is necessary for the new status.

In a separate interview Friday, Mr. Brown said the property is an existing historic building with minimal alterations. For this reason, he said, it’s “extremely difficult” to make it handicap compliant.

The Planning Board delayed a public hearing on the application until the Oct. 3 regular meeting. The application still requires approval from the Historic Preservation Committee. Mr. Pelton acquired the property for $1.95 million.

Photo caption: The Doofpot plans to close once the owners’ lease is up this fall. (Credit: Kate Nalepinski)

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