Images courtesy of NY Architectural Renderings.
The new Baron’s Cove Inn, conceived as a family friendly destination resort, is allowed by village code to have a restaurant. However this week members of the Sag Harbor Village Planning Board said they would like to ensure a bar space within that restaurant does not have the ability to evolve into a nightlife destination similar to Rocco’s – the establishment on that same stretch of West Water Street where throbbing disco music plagued residents for years.
The owners of Baron’s Cove Inn, KBR Associates, and Cape Advisors, the firm that will manage the resort once renovations are completed, have already gained permission to renovate the exterior of the existing motel. Now, the firms are before the village planning board to remove an existing office and construct a new lobby and restaurant space overlooking Sag Harbor’s waterfront.
The restaurant, which will have a total of 87 seats, including 18 that will be moved outdoors in the summer season, is allowed as an accessory use to the motel under village law. Nightclubs and taverns are prohibited under the same law.
The companies have proposed the restaurant on the second story of the new building, with the restaurant’s bar and motel lobby on the first floor.
On Tuesday, October 25 during a Sag Harbor Village Planning Board meeting, board member Greg Ferraris noted there is about 1,000 square-feet of space next to the bar area that is undesignated.
“It looks like it could all be a bar,” he said.
Curtis Sachs, Cape Advisors’ project manager for the Baron’s Cove project, explained the area would be lobby space, and similar to C/o The Maidstone in East Hampton the lobby and bar would share space.
Ferraris replied his concern was being able to differentiate between seats in the lobby and the eight designated seats in the bar.
“Will there be waitress service in that lobby area,” he wondered.
Ferraris explained that neighbors have expressed a desire for the village to prevent the possibility of another nightlife destination like Rocco’s — that space is now taken by the defunct West Water Street condominium project.
“We are as far from a nightclub as you can get,” said Sachs. “This is a family friendly resort. It really is just an amenity for the hotel itself.”
“I think Greg’s concern is transparency, and that we understand what it is and how many people occupy the space,” added board member Larry Perrine.
Sachs presented board members with images of the restaurant, lobby and bar area to give them a feel for the aesthetic the company hopes to create at Baron’s Cove Inn.
Jack Tagliasacchi, a planning board member and restaurant owner in Sag Harbor, said he was concerned this was a full-blown restaurant and not one that would be an accessory to the motel, particularly in the summer.
While Tagliasacchi supported the idea of a restaurant at the new Baron’s Cove Inn, he also clarified that the planning board needs to ensure the space doesn’t evolve into another popular nightlife spot.
“We will be running the restaurant and to do anything beyond a family friendly business would go against our brand,” assured Sachs. “It would erode everything we have done in Cape May and in the other projects we are developing here.”
Cape Advisors has completed several historic re-development projects in Cape May, New Jersey, and is also approved to re-develop the former Bulova Watchcase Factory into luxury condominiums later this fall.
Sachs added the majority of the resort’s revenue is projected to come from room sales, and operating a noisy restaurant and bar would not be in keeping with running a high end hotel.
“Knowing the summer months, your restaurant will gross more than your rooms then,” said Tagliasacchi, adding the resort will bring tourism into Sag Harbor, which is a good thing for the local economy.
Board chairman Neil Slevin wondered if the board could place covenants on the property to protect neighbors.
Sag Harbor environmental planning consultant Rich Warren noted that the law specifically prohibits a restaurant with the characteristics of a bar or nightclub. Village attorney Denise Schoen said the board can also demand strict enforcement from the village’s code enforcement department, which could go as far as to count the seats in Baron’s Cove bar each Saturday night to ensure the crowd was not dominating the space.
Tiffany Scarlato, an attorney representing KBR Associates and Cape Advisors, said her clients would provide the board with a comprehensive narrative on the intended use of the lobby space, as well as a layout of all the planned furniture and seating in both the bar and lobby space before the board’s November 22 meeting.