On Monday, the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) applauded proposed plans for retail and office or apartment spaces at the intersection of Lumber Lane, Montauk Highway and the Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike — site of the dilapidated Bridgehampton Beverage Store.
In the same breath, however, many members criticized what they see as a poorly planned existing intersection resulting in “disastrous” and “complicated” traffic conditions in the center of Bridgehampton, and called for action from Southampton Town to remedy the situation.
At the request of the Southampton Town Planning Board, which has been reviewing BNB Ventures proposal to demolish the beverage store and a second ramshackle residence on adjacent property and construct the new approximately 8,700 square foot, two-story Greek revival inspired building, project planner Richard Warren of Inter-Science Research Associates presented the development to the CAC. Members were largely happy with the evolution of the project over the last several years.
In the project’s initial design, Warren explained, the building was larger — 10,000 square feet — clad in brick on one side and wood shingles on the other, wrapping the corner of Lumber Lane and Montauk Highway snuggly. After receiving a positive SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) Declaration from the town planning board, Warren said project sponsors chose to go back to the drawing board, hiring an architectural historian to aid in the project’s design.
The result is a smaller building that no longer wraps the corner and is now wholly clad in painted white wood, a similar style to neighboring Bulls Head Inn and Nathaniel Rogers House. Designed by Frank Greenwald, an East Hampton architect, Warren noted the plan also pushes the building back on the property, in excess of 25-feet from the road, where only 10 is required.
The development of the proposed two-story building, which would house three retail spaces on the ground floor and either three offices or two apartments on the second floor, would also do away with the curb cut that now offers access to the beverage store, redirecting traffic through the parking lot next to Starbucks and the offices of Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate, which BNB Ventures also owns.
Parking will also be reconfigured said Warren, resulting in 96 spaces between BNB’s proposed development, and the existing parking lot accommodating Starbucks and the real estate office. Seven spaces will be new, said to Warren, who added he is submitting a parking study that shows the number exceeds what is needed in the area.
“We felt it was important to try and see if we could come up with something that has an architecture that works for the area,” said Warren.
The town’s Landmarks and Historic Districts Board has already found the project acceptable, said Warren, although he added “the devil is in the details” and project sponsors want to ensure they don’t end up with a “Disneyland-like” structure.
Peter Wilson, an architect and member of the CAC, called the Lumber Lane, Main Street and Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike intersection “complicated” and said though the already difficult traffic issues at the intersection may not be BNB Ventures responsibility, it should be addressed by town planners.
“That corner right now is totally disastrous,” he said, to the agreement of several CAC members including Christine Smith. Smith suggested that a cut in the triangular piece of land at the right of way would prevent drivers leaving the lot from turning left onto the Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike by crossing Lumber Lane, forcing them instead to either turn left onto Lumber Lane only or right towards the highway.
“I am very supportive of this project,” continued Wilson. “It’s the kind of commercial development I personally would like to encourage because it is taking place in the village, not like all this other stuff we are getting bombarded with, with strip mall development.”
Wilson’s endorsement will be adopted as the CAC’s official position on that site, however, the CAC will also be sending a second motion to the town board and planning board calling for Southampton officials to address the “troubling” intersection.
The CAC will also send a resolution asking the town to address safety at Ocean Road Beach by creating facilities that will allow the town to hire lifeguards for the beach.
“It’s the most attractive and most dangerous bathing opportunity we have in our community,” said CAC chairman Fred Cammann who added the issue has been broached before, with the town stating that in order to hire lifeguards they must develop sanitary facilities. A sliver of land near the beach, whose ownership is now being investigated by the town, may allow for that project.
The CAC agreed to ask the town to address safety through the introduction of lifeguards at the beach and present them with any plans in the future.