Paramount Homes of the Hamptons has purchased an abandoned oyster farm in East Marion, popularly known as the “Oki-Do” property, with the intent to develop the parcel into a condominium and affordable housing.
The property sold for $6 million in mid-October to FTKS Holdings LLC, according to a real estate transfer from Suffolk Research Service.
“I’m here, as you probably know, regarding the abandoned oyster farm property that’s in a very terrible state of disrepair,” attorney Steven Losquadro said. “My client is Paramount Homes of the Hamptons, a very well known, very well regarded builder … [He] acquired the property and thought that he could do something very nice there.”
Mr. Losquadro made his comments Tuesday before the Southold Town Board to discuss the potential for affordable housing at the site. Although a zoning change to allow for affordable housing could be requested, the size of the condominium is at odds with a pending zoning change for the parcel.
At a meeting in early November, the board seemed to favor split-zoning the parcel as RR and R-80 in order to reduce the development intensity that’s currently permitted there. The bulk of the 18.37-acre property — about 12 acres, Supervisor Scott Russell said in early November — would be zoned as R-80, or residential two-acre zoning that prioritizes single-family homes. RR, or resort residential, would still allow for some commercial development, including a small hotel, but the condominium would be capped at about 44 units. Mr. Losquadro’s client proposed about 80 units.
The parcel is currently zoned as Marine II, which allows for “a wide range of water-dependent and water-related uses,” including commercial marinas, boatyards, restaurants, hotels and ferries. Mr. Russell said in early November that the current zoning, left as M2, could allow for “over 120 rooms, restaurants, an amphitheater and a marina on the entire property.”
Mr. Losquadro’s client hopes to build an approximately 80-unit condominium on the property and offered to work with the town to include “a significant affordable workforce housing component” on the parcel. No application has been filed with the town yet.
“With respect to that workforce housing, the affordable housing component, my client feels that that’s very important,” Mr. Losquadro said. “My client could make that happen, make it happen in a very substantial way and we think that could be an important component of the project and would bring something to the town that I think residents would want, residents need.”
The Town Board expressed concern about the lack of detailed plans accompanying Mr. Losquadro’s request.
“We’ve already been in the details of changing the zone. Our intention with changing the zone is to reduce the amount of development on that piece, and this is doing the opposite,” Town Board member Sarah Nappa said. “We do need the details. Having a general conversation is good, but we’re already farther along in this process of what we envisioned for that property so we need to see what your client is proposing.”
Mr. Losquadro said he could return to the town with plans at a later date, but his main goal at the meeting was to find out if, conceptually, the proposal was something the town would be interested in.
He also said his client wasn’t aware that the town had been planning to rezone the Oki-Do property, but wants to help meet community needs through the affordable housing units. The owner also plans to have a “top-of-the-line” sanitary system on the parcel, he said.
Mr. Russell pointed out that the conversation about rezoning Oki-Do has been well-publicized and has been ongoing for nearly three years.
“With all due respect to your client … it sounds like he probably didn’t do his due diligence and … in the sense of fairness, we have to look at that as part of the decision,” he said.
Mr. Russell also questioned whether the property owner has any experience operating affordable housing, especially since Southold doesn’t currently have a management structure in place. “That’s just outside of, frankly, the abilities of most towns,” he said.
Mr. Losquadro said the owner “has someone with whom he works.” His client could comply with standards set by the Long Island Housing Partnership and commit to affordable housing guidelines.
In response to concerns from town board members, including about long-term management of the affordable units, Mr. Losquadro said that the Town Board would be able to negotiate covenants and restrictions to limit and guide development on the property.
“If we move forward our way, then there’s nothing that’s on you, it’s all on us. We bear all the expenses. I think what the question would be, could we determine where we want to go? Could that meet with your approval? Because then if that’s the case, I think there is a path forward,” he said.
Mr. Russell emphasized that zoning is “black-letter code,” not covenants and restrictions. He later added that “the town code doesn’t allow us to zone to meet the condominium guideline where they would have to be similar to what would be across the street.”
Cleaves Point is a residential condominium in East Marion, across from the Oki-Do parcel. Mr. Losquadro pointed out in a phone call after the meeting that Cleaves Point, although it has fewer units than his client proposed, is also situated on less acreage so density should be similar. The community was registered as a condominium with Suffolk County under the Condominium Act of the State of New York in 1983. Mr. Russell noted that, because it’s zoned as resort residential, the parcel is supposed to operate as a resort/residential community.
When asked how he’d choose to rezone the property, Mr. Losquadro said at the meeting that’s something he’d need to discuss with the town attorney and planning director.
Mr. Russell said the Town Board needs to discuss whether it’s willing to entertain the idea right now.
“We do have a pending action,” he said.
Mr. Losquadro said afterward that the next step is further dialogue and feedback from the town.
“There was a desire to see more and learn more details and we’re happy to do that,” he said. He added that the purpose of the meeting was to let the town know about the affordable housing component of the proposal, which is “not something the town can do on its own” and “has to be brought forward affirmatively by an applicant.”
Editor’s Note: This story was updated to include more details about the zoning at Cleaves Point.