By Kathryn G. Menu
Coming over the Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter Veterans’ Memorial Bridge, the first views of Sag Harbor currently include a dilapidated building and garbage-strewn parking lot next to 7-Eleven. A large orange and blue graffiti whale marks a second building to the west on another overgrown lot with a small dock jutting into Sag Harbor Cove.
Since 2005, developers Emil Talel and Michael Maidan have envisioned transforming those lots into luxury waterfront condominiums complete with a marina. Stalled by community opposition, zoning hurdles, financing and eventually multiple lawsuits, on Tuesday night the Sag Harbor Village Planning Board was presented with the first formal plans for the parcels since 2009.
Attorney Timothy S. McCully, representing Talel and Maidan, presented plans for a project that proposes a total of 24 residences over four main parcels — 1, 3 and 5 Ferry Road, sandwiched between the 7-Eleven property and the bridge, and 2 West Water Street, locally known as the “1-800-LAWYER” building.
Talel confirmed in July he was in contract to purchase that property, which according to Douglas Elliman Real Estate website was sold and closed on. The last listed sale price for that property was $6 million. A fifth parcel, a 16,405 square-foot waterfront parcel sandwiched between village-owned beachfront and Talel and Maidan’s property, is also included in the development and was purchased by Talel from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in 2010.
According to the application submitted to the building department, the project will include a three-and-a-half story building on the 1, 3 and 5 Ferry Road parcel with a total of 50,510 gross floor area and 21 residential units. The building is proposed to have 29 parking spaces in the basement and 13 parking spaces at street level. It is also proposed to have a rooftop swimming pool for residents.
The architectural concept for the building, which Greenwald noted is “a fairly large structure,” borrows from Main Street, Sag Harbor, he said. To break up the massing of the structure, it is divided into a series of seven facades, all drawing from Sag Harbor architecture.
“One of the big issues here is height and we are trying to not have this look like a monolithic thing with a flat roof,” said Greenwald. “One of the things we will look for is relief from the height so we can create some interesting rooflines.”
Greenwald said they purposefully pushed the eastern building in the development as far to the west as possible “to create as much open space as we can for the public.”
That building will face what McCully and Greenwald referred to as a “public park” being designed next to the village beachfront as a part of the project. The park’s design, which Greenwald noted is not set in stone, is meant to “soften” the intersection, and is seen in an artist’s rendering as lush with trees and plantings, lined with red stone walkways, benches and featuring a fountain. Greenwald said the proposal also includes a public boardwalk around the shoreline of the cove. According to the application, the park will be approximately a half-acre in size.
The west building in the project, at 2 West Water Street, will undergo a complete renovation, according to Greenwald. The three-story building, which has served as Davis’ single family home, used to operate as a 14-unit co-op complex with both residential and commercial uses. Under this proposal it will be renovated into three residences, its façade completely resurfaced and the existing cupola removed.
“The building will be transformed to recall the shingle style of traditional waterfront Sag Harbor homes with a scale consistent with this historic reference,” reads the building department application.
Greenwald said on Tuesday it was being designed to fit into the residential neighborhood around it, rather than continue to look like a large commercial building. The building will host a total of 7,120 square feet of gross floor area and each of the three units will have its own two-car garage.
According to the application, there will only be one ingress and egress point along West Water Street and the property will be landscaped to soften the front of the existing structure.
Lastly, the project also proposes a marina, although the number of slips proposed for the marina were not specified in the application.
While an application to discuss the project was filed with the building department, a formal application has yet to be submitted according to village attorney Denise Schoen. Schoen said only then will building inspector Tim Platt be able to determine what variances are needed if the project is going to be considered.
On Tuesday night, planning board chairman Neil Slevin said before any boards move forward in looking at this application he wanted a clear picture about what property was owned by the developers and what property was village property, including details about the MTA parcel Talel acquired in 2010.
Under the code, the proposed three-and-a-half story building is only allowed to host nine residential units. McCully said he believes the 2 West Water Street property is still legally allowed to have 14 condominium units and that they will ask to transfer that allowance to the other parcels involved in the project as they only intend to have three units in that building.
“We would take all of the parcels and merge them,” he said.
Slevin said he would like to see what is allowed as of right on these parcels compared to what is proposed. Having a clear idea of what variances are needed for this project, he added was critical, and may determine whether the planning board or the zoning board of appeals (ZBA) would handle the environmental review of the project.
“Has there been any discussion about how you intend to comply with affordable housing provisions,” asked board member Gregory Ferraris.
Rather than provide the two affordable housing units, as required by the village code for a project of this size, McCully said they would likely instead provide financing into the Sag Harbor Community Housing Trust.
“We haven’t solidified that,” he added.
On Wednesday, Schoen said it was likely the project would need a number of dimensional variances and likely a variance to allow greater density on the parcels than allowed under the village code.
“The major legal issue is going to be whether or not the other property [2 West Water Street] has 14 units that are still legally viable,” she added, noting she is already researching the matter.
The next step, she added, is in the developers’ hands as they must file formal application with the village to move forward.