An antique store for an antique house?
That was the question the Sag Harbor Village Planning Board considered on Tuesday night. While the discussion was preliminary and brief, members warmed to the idea that the historic Gingerbread House on Main Street could be preserved while hosting La Maisonette on the first floor and a second floor residential use.
The Gingerbread House dates back to 1840. It was at the center of a Sag Harbor development controversy in 2004 when then owner Jon Gruen proposed to demolish the neighboring 127 Main Street and build a new two story structure residents feared would overshadow the Gingerbread House and the historic Latham House.
That proposal eventually gave way and 127 Main Street was purchased by James Giorgio, a local real estate developer who added a modest addition to the back of the building in a proposal largely supported by residents.
According to La Masionette owner Lynn Park Charveriat’s attorney, Dennis Downes — who represented Gruen and later Giorgio — while the Gingerbread House has been on the market since 2007 it has failed to find a buyer. However, Charverait is interested in opening her store on the first floor of the building and would not expand it’s footprint.
In order to do so she would need approval from the Sag Harbor Planning Board for a change of use to allow commercial retail on the first floor of what is considered a two-family residence.
Downes said there has been discussion about digging out along the side of the front yard to create a space in the basement of the residence, but that has not been fully explored.
“It does seem consistent with neighboring properties,” said board member Greg Ferraris about adding a commercial element to the building.
Formal plans will have to be submitted to the board for review.
In other news, Dean Golden presented updated plans for the renovation of the building that contains Sen Restaurant on Main Street.
The building’s owner, Jeff Resnik, has proposed the construction of a 550-square-foot first floor addition on the eastern side of the three story building in an area that now is used as a storage shed. That construction is aimed at increasing the size of the existing kitchen and will allow for the redesign of bathroom and bar areas in the restaurant.
It is also proposed that the building be expanded on the second and third floors, by 590-square-feet and 488 square-feet, respectively, to expand and reconfigure two existing apartments.
Throughout Tuesday night’s meeting, Golden stressed the number of seats in the restaurant and bedrooms in the apartments would not increase, protecting the application from needing to meet additional requirements in terms of parking or a new septic system.
Sag Harbor Environmental Planning Consultant Rich Warren said he would like Golden to provide the board with a break down of the square footage throughout the building to ensure the project does not trigger a 3,000 square-foot limitation on expansion in commercial buildings within the village.
“It’s a pretty tight site,” he added, asking Golden also provide a plan for construction staging to ensure precious village parking spaces are not usurped by construction if it is approved by the board.
Ferraris said he would like to see more detail provided in terms of the expansion of the residential units and the restaurant to ensure that parking was being met. In addition to the number of seats in a restaurant, he noted, the village requires parking spaces for employees meaning if Sen Restaurant intends to hire more people once the kitchen is expanded they may need to seek a variance from the village zoning board of appeals.
Golden said the Sen Restaurant kitchen was so crammed as it exists today that they have to have more people in the kitchen to accomplish what they need to. With more space, employees will be able to move more freely and take on more tasks, he said.
Village attorney Denise Schoen added that Golden had already met with building inspector Tim Platt who did not believe the project would trigger the need for more parking.
“As far as the staging of construction, that is something we would be foolhardy not to consider,” agreed Golden, adding the project would be constructed in the off-season and likely in two phases.