Year in Business: No shortage of sales, controversies and expansion

The following was compiled for the business page in our Year in Review issue, on newsstands now.

Businesspeople who made headlines …

Stefan Soloviev

The real-estate magnate and owner of Crossroads Agriculture continued his efforts to purchase North Fork property in 2019. He’s reportedly acquired more than 1,000 acres in the past five years, adding a winery and a Christmas tree farm, among several other agricultural uses, to his portfolio this year. Mr. Soloviev’s former wife, Stacey, is now overseeing operations at Santa’s Christmas Tree Farm in Cut-chogue, which he purchased at auction in July for $1.8 million. They later closed on Peconic Bay Winery, which Ms. Soloviev is expected to run when it reopens next year.

A truck at the Brinkmann property. (Credit: Kate Nalepinski)

Hank and Ben Brinkmann

In September, the Southold Town Board moved to exercise the power of eminent domain against the hardware store owners’ property in Mattituck in an effort to stop construction of a 20,000-square-foot store at the corner of Main Road and New Suffolk Avenue. The town and local civic officials have proposed a community park on the property. The Brinkmanns, in an effort to dissuade the town from acquiring the parcel through a settlement or eminent domain, later drew up renderings for a neighboring property they think would be a better fit for the town.

Croteaux Vineyards. (Credit: David Benthal)

The Frankel and Pennessi families

Two years after purchasing Shinn Estate Vineyards in Mattituck, New Jersey financier Randy Frankel and his wife, Barbara, partnered with Kristen and Daniel Pennessi, owners of The Menhaden hotel in Greenport, to purchase Croteaux Vineyards in Southold, which they reopened after it was closed for more than a year following a zoning issue. The three parcels that make up the business were purchased from the Croteau family for about $1.8 million. The Pennessis also opened the well-received The Merchant’s Wife restaurant at the Menhaden this year.

The Harbor Front Inn. (Credit: Suffolk Times file photo)

Commercial sale of the year …

The Harborfront Inn, a 35-room hotel located on the water in the heart of Greenport Village, sold for $9.5 million in November. The 26,000-square-foot hotel, which was built in 2003 and opened the following spring, had been on the market for nearly 30 months before it was purchased by the same company that owns the Sound View in Greenport. The deal, brokered by Kristopher Pilles of North Fork Commercial, gives Eagle Point Hotel Partners prime waterfront lodging properties on both Long Island Sound and Peconic Bay. The Harborfront Inn was founded by the Kontokosta family, which sold the property in an effort to focus on their nearby winery, which boasts the North Fork’s easternmost tasting room and the only one located on the Sound.

What’s hot …

The sale of the Harborfront isn’t the only indication that lodging is in high demand in Greenport. The heightened market is also evident in the recently proposed expansions of the nearby Greenporter Hotel and American Beech in a community where The Lin Beach House and The Menhaden also opened in 2018.

The Millers. (Credit: Steve Wick)

Also sold in 2019 …

After nearly 50 years in business, including the past two decades that saw it boom into a premier entity in the environmental-services industry, Miller Environmental Group of Calverton was sold this past winter to a New York-based financial services company. Started in 1971 by Jim Miller of Cutchogue, a former lobsterman and commercial fisherman, and later run by his son Mark, MEG had been wooed for several years by prospective buyers who saw in the Calverton company an efficiently run business that punched well above its weight class. Major events like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 — when MEG rounded up 1,600 workers to assist with the massive cleanup — helped grow the business and put it on the map nationally, as did work it performed in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria to restore power to thousands of homes.

Affordable rentals on the rise …

Construction began this year on Vineyard View, a project that comprises seven affordable apartment buildings in Greenport containing 14 one-bedroom, 22 two-bedroom and 14 three-bedroom apartments on a 17.2-acre site on County Road 48 in Greenport. The 116-unit Riverview Lofts complex also popped up in downtown Riverhead, where units are expected to open up in 2020.

The former PC Richard & Soon will soon be an extension of PBMC. (Credit: News-Review file photo)

PBMC continues expansion …

Peconic Bay Medical Center received approval to convert a portion of the former P.C. Richard appliance store on Route 58 in Riverhead into a cancer care center. And that’s not the only off-site property where the hospital made news this year. President and CEO Andrew Mitchell also publicly discussed an interest in purchasing the nearby former Bishop McGann Mercy High School property and the hospital has pending plans to open a primary care, gastroenterology, general surgery and cardiology office at the former Capital One property in Greenport.

Property to watch in 2020 …

The fate of the abandoned oyster factory at the end of Shipyard Lane in East Marion remains uncertain after an auction to sell the property was canceled in August. Following a judgment of foreclosure and sale dated June 20, a public auction of the 18-acre waterfront property was scheduled to take place at Southold Town Hall Aug. 16. According to a legal notice, the approximate lien amount was $2.9 million, plus interest and other fees, but a temporary restraining order prevented the sale from going forward this year, even as at least two potential bidders appeared at the auction.

Luis Siguencia of Golden Jalapeños Café. (Credit: Mahreen Khan)

Expressing gratitude …

“In the wintertime, a lot of people are not working and, really, I want to teach my kid to do the right thing. I got my daughter, I hope one day she’ll be doing the same. The kids grow up the way we teach them. The way my parents taught me to be is the way I turned out and I hope my daughter does, too.”

— Luis Siguencia of Golden Jalapeños Café in Calverton on why he cooked nearly 70 turkeys to give away free meals on Thanksgiving.

“The only reason we are open is because the firemen went in harm’s way to save this place.”

— Ken Homan following a fire at his family’s 91-year-old business, Braun Seafood, this June.

New tasting room …

While we’ve seen a few tasting rooms close their doors in recent years, it was an encouraging sign for Long Island’s wine industry that Sannino Vineyard opened its new tasting room in Cutchogue this year. The move allows the Sanninos, who already operate a bed-and-breakfast and a vineyard on the 8.9-acre property at Route 48 and Alvah’s Lane, to sell, bottle, store and produce wines at one location for the first time.

The Merchant’s Wife in Greenport. (Credit: Madison Fender)

New restaurants …

Anker, Greenport

Barrow Food House, Aquebogue

Craft’d, Riverhead

Ellen’s on Front, Greenport

Maroni Cuisine, Southold

The Merchant’s Wife, Greenport

Michelangelo, Riverhead

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