Tag Archive | "125 main street"

Sag Harbor ARB Calls for Assessment Before Demolition of 125 Main Street in Sag Harbor

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In the wake of protest — including by the president of the Sag Harbor Historical Society — this week the board charged with protecting the historic character of Sag Harbor Village called for independent, expert advice on the state of a Main Street building before it will even consider allowing it to be torn down and rebuilt in kind.

On Monday, July 25, the Sag Harbor Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board (ARB) Chairman Cee Scott Brown told local real estate developer Jim Giorgio and his architect Chuck Thomas that he would like the condition of 125 Main Street formally assessed before his board offers any opinions on the proposal.

Last year Giorgio, who has re-developed a handful of Sag Harbor buildings, was granted approval to raise the historic structure, located adjacent to The Latham House, and add a new street-level commercial space. That approval was seen as a part of a restoration project designed to shore-up the building through a new foundation.

However, according to Thomas, once he began taking a closer look at that structure it became clear that plan might not be feasible, as much of the building was in such a serious state of disrepair that it would not be salvageable during the reconstruction project.

Instead, Thomas suggested they would change their plans and re-build a new 125 Main exactly as it appears today, except would lower the structure so two retail spaces would be closer to the street level.

Quickly, the concept of the building, which dates to the 1750s, being demolished raised the ire of the Sag Harbor Historical Society and the not-for-profit Save Sag Harbor. Both groups called for an independent assessment.

And it appears they were heard.

Brown said he would like to work with Giorgio and Julian Adams, the community liaison and certified local government coordinator for the New York State Historic Preservation Office to find an engineer that specializes in historic restoration that could offer an independent opinion about the building’s durability.

“I can tell you right now, structurally, the first floor has to be replaced,” said Thomas, adding the building also needs a brand new foundation. “On the second floor what may be able to be saved are the walls and the roof, but that is about it.”

In the process of restoring and renovating the building, Giorgio will also have to bring it up to code, requiring a new sprinkler system in between the floors, a virtually impossible task with the current state of the structure.

“For me, to take that building down and rebuild it, it costs a lot more money than if we saved it,” said Giorgio, adding he believes they won’t even know what is possible until they start to strip away layers of the structure. Thomas and Giorgio have promised to use as much of the existing historic material in rebuilding 125 Main Street if they are approved.

Giorgio implored the board to give him direction on how they can make a viable plan for the building work, both for the village, but also for him as a commercial real estate owner.

“It’s not an easy answer for us, and I know it’s not an easy answer for you, but we need some direction, some latitude,” he said.

“The best thing we can all do is get someone on board that is familiar with this, a preservationist,” said board member Michael Mensch, adding it may be possible to re-build from the inside out.

Brown added that if it is determined the building can be saved in some form, he would like to reach out to the other village boards and possibly work towards a project – even if it requires variances – that make the space viable for Giorgio to maintain without taking the building down.

Giorgio agreed to explore hiring a preservationist and taking a third look at the project.

“We are trying to find the right mix for what works for the village and what works for us,” he said.

“It might not be as bad as you think,” said Brown. “Or it might be worse.”

Demolition of Main Street, Sag Harbor Building Rests in ARB Hands

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Whether or not local developer James Giorgio will be able to demolish the building at 125 Main Street in Sag Harbor, and rebuild with historic materials including some salvaged from the structure that dates back to the 1750s, will remain solely in the hands of the Sag Harbor Village Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board, according to Sag Harbor Village Attorney Anthony Tohill.

On Tuesday, the Sag Harbor Village Planning Board took up the matter during its work session. Giorgio received approval from that board to raise the commercial building, located next to The Latham House. That approval was seen as a part of a restoration project designed to shore-up the building through a new foundation, but also add a new commercial space on the street level in what is now a crawl space.

In May, Giorgio’s architect Chuck Thomas approached the Sag Harbor Village Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board (ARB) about changing the plan. Instead of raising the building, said Thomas on Tuesday night, they decided to look at lowering the building two-and-a-half-feet to make two existing retail locations more accessible, rather than add the new space. Simultaneously, they discovered the condition of the building would not allow for the project to proceed as planned.

According to taped minutes of that Sag Harbor ARB meeting, major concerns surrounding the condition of the building revolved around the ability to bring it up to code while restoring the structure. Thomas, hesitant to use the word “demolition” during the May ARB meeting, as well as during Tuesday night’s discussion, said the building would be “deconstructed” and replaced “piece by piece, stick by stick.” He added that as much material would be reclaimed as possible and the rest would be replaced with historic materials.

In order to accomplish this, Giorgio would need a demolition permit from the Sag Harbor ARB as well as site plan approval from the village planning board for the new project.

Since the plans were tentatively announced both Save Sag Harbor and the Sag Harbor Historical Society have come out publicly against the plan, asking for the village to require that independently employed historic preservationists weigh in on the plan before any permit is granted.

Sag Harbor Village Environmental Planning Consultant Richard Warren said on Tuesday that he needed more information before he could determine what environmental review the village would need to conduct before moving forward. Specifically, he said, Giorgio needed to supply documents showing the square footage and use of any basement area.

Under village code, noted Warren, a building over 3,000 square feet undergoing this kind of project could require extensive environmental review. He asked that building inspector Tim Platt be brought in to review the square footage of the building before the planning board moves forward.

Warren added he was concerned about the building being lowered in elevation to the point where the grading of the property in the rear of the building would be higher than the proposed new building. He asked Thomas for a full plan to contend with that issue.

Thomas stressed Giorgio was not looking at add any square footage to the existing building, and that the duo had addressed grading issues at the adjacent 127 Main Street property recently, cutting and filling the rear yard to fit in with an addition there.

While there was some discussion between Thomas and Tohill about the sentiment of the Sag Harbor ARB on the demolition of the building, ultimately, Tohill said the decision of whether or not to allow that to move forward rested solely in that board’s hands.

Thomas was cautious when the word “demolition” was raised. He stressed the plan, if approved, was to document the conditions of the building, verify its state, salvage what is possible and reconstruct the building in exact proportions to what exists now.

“We are not looking to go in with a wrecking ball and come back in with a new style and new building,” he said.

Thomas agreed with Warren and Tohill that the Sag Harbor ARB’s decision in the case was critical.

“We need a decision one way or the other,” he said.

“It is up to the ARB to make the determination on whether or not the building can be demolished or not,” said planning board member Gregory Ferraris.

The next meetings of the Sag Harbor ARB, although the application has yet to be scheduled with the building department, will take place on July 14 and July 25 at 5 p.m.

125 Main Street is Eyed for Demolition

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By Kathryn G. Menu

Last week, a Sag Harbor developer and his architect approached the Village of Sag Harbor Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board to test the waters on if that board would approve demolition and reconstruction, in kind, of a historic Main Street, Sag Harbor building dating back to the 1750s.

It has been about a year since local developer James Giorgio received approval by the Village of Sag Harbor to raise his commercial building at 125 Main Street, next to The Latham House. That approval was seen as a part of a restoration project designed to shore-up the building through a new foundation, but also add a new commercial space on the street level in what is now a crawl space.

However, according to Giorgio and his architect, Charles Thomas, once contractors began taking a closer look at the actual structure, they quickly realized that following through with their plans, and bringing the building up to building code and meet safety requirements, was far from possible.

“I am here to see to what level we could basically, I don’t want to say demolish, but remove the building and reconstruct it in the same proportions using materials we would present to you,” said Thomas at a Sag Harbor ARB meeting last Thursday. “But before we got into that I felt we needed to have this conversation.”

“At the end of the day, it will be the same building,” he added.

“You are talking about taking the entire building down,” asked ARB chairman Cee Scott Brown.

“We are talking about taking the entire building down,” confirmed Thomas.

According to Giorgio, one of the biggest problems his team has encountered is that the structure itself is simply in bad shape. From the ceiling separating the first and second floors, part of which is held together by tree limbs still clad in bark, but not in good shape, said Giorgio, to “a tremendous amount of rot in the walls,” Giorgio said the best bet would be to deconstruct the building and attempt to salvage as many materials as possible for the reconstruction.

The east wall of the building, added Thomas, is completely rotted out with decay, added Thomas.

“The building will look the same, but we don’t think we can salvage all of what is there,” he said. “We are trying to make this code compliant and safe for the public and it is almost impossible. I am actually not going to say ‘almost,’ it is impossible and the building is so deteriorated we don’t know where to go with anything.”

“We can start making temporary repairs to the building,” he added. “But that is all we can do at this point.”

For Giorgio, whose personal hobby is to rebuild antique motorcycles, it is not in his nature to tear something down only to replace it with something new, he noted.

“I will spend years looking for a part before I replace it,” he said, noting he believes this is the best way to salvage some of the characteristics of the building and keep the historic aesthetic of the house intact.

Brown wondered what options Giorgio and Thomas would have if the Sag Harbor ARB flatly rejected the concept.

“Are you telling me the building is in such bad shape that safety wise and even structurally it is a precarious situation,” he asked.

“I don’t know if it would withstand the renovations without a high level of risk while we are taking it apart,” said Giorgio, later adding that once certain portions of the house were removed for reconstruction, he believes the house “would fall down.”

Giorgio said if he was allowed to move forward with this plan, which would still need formal approval from the village’s ARB and planning boards, instead of raising the building and adding the commercial space in the crawl space, he would try and lower the building by 18-inches to make stairways to the existing two retail spaces on the first floor a little more accessible.

“I would not want this building to end up with all new windows, all new everything where it looks like a new building done a la 1700,” said Brown, stressing that if the ARB ultimately agreed to the plan he would like to see as much of the original building used to preserve the historic feel of the structure.

Board members Tom Horn, Sr. and Diane Schiavoni asked Giorgio and Thomas to come back to the board with formal plans for the project at the board’s next meeting, on May 23 at 5 p.m.

“It’s a big decision,” said Schiavoni. “I want to see more.”

In other ARB news, Pia Ferraris was approved for an addition at her 67 Suffolk Street home, Far Away Peace LLC at 186 Main Street was given permission to remove one spruce tree from its property, add plantings to the property and repair a driveway and fence in kind. Gail Schoentag Street was approved for a new sign announcing the “Josef Schoeffmann Gallery” at 112 Hampton Street and Thomas Iorio was approved for a new sign, “Tommy’s GLC Barber Shop” at 66 Main Street.

The next meeting of the Sag Harbor ARB is on Monday, May 23 at 5 p.m.