Tag Archive | "bulls head inn"

A Top Chef Headed to Bridgehampton

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Celebrating the abundance of local produce, fish and shellfish on Long Island’s East End is not a new concept to the region’s food scene. This summer, a chef who made his name honoring fresh ingredients and the artisans who produce them plans to set up shop in Bridgehampton, right near the rich loam long treasured for its exceptional growing power.

A spokesperson for chef and restaurateur Tom Colicchio confirmed on Tuesday that he will open the Topping Rose House at the historic Bulls Head Inn on the corner of Montauk Highway and the Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike.

According to the chef’s spokesperson, Colicchio’s Craft Restaurants will operate the luxury inn, which is currently under construction. It will be the team’s first foray into a hotel project.

The inn is slated to open in the late summer, a spokesman confirmed, and will operate year-round with 22-rooms and a restaurant with a “vegetable-focused menu.”

The property is also being developed to include a spa, a swimming pool and a crabapple orchard.

Those unfamiliar with Colicchio’s reputation in the kitchen, are still likely accustomed to his exacting, yet fair, manner as the head judge on the Emmy Award winning Bravo series “Top Chef,” which is currently wrapping up its ninth season.

However, Colicchio’s name in the culinary world was made long before he took the helm at what would become one of the Bravo channel’s most popular series. In 1994, he partnered with famed restaurateur Danny Meyer and opened the Gramercy Tavern. The restaurant evolved into one of the most popular restaurants in Manhattan.

In 2001, Colicchio opened Craft, a restaurant that to this day is focused on serving simple, flavorful and fresh food, a list of local purveyors proudly displayed on its menu. Craft Restaurants now manages Craft locations in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas, as well as Craftbar in New York and Los Angeles, ‘wichcraft in New York, Las Vegas and San Francisco, Craftsteak in Las Vegas and Connecticut, and Colicchio & Sons in New York and Riverpark, which is also in New York.

And now the Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton can be added to the list.

Rebuilding a Historic Intersection in Bridgehampton

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web_Bridgehampton Main Intersection Renovation_COMPOSITE

By Claire Walla

It may look dilapidated and exude the sound of drilling and the smell of fresh sawdust, but the intersection of Montauk Highway and Ocean Road in Bridgehampton is not your average construction zone. It is currently home to a veritable trifecta of ongoing historic preservation projects.

On the southeast side of the highway, the Bridgehampton Historical Society is working to preserve what’s known as the Nathanial Rogers House (the renovated building will serve as the organization’s new home). Across the street to the north, developer Bill Campbell and his crew are turning the old Bull’s Head Inn property into a new luxury Inn, complete with a restaurant and spa, to be called the Topping Rose House (taken from the building’s historic owners). And on the northwest corner of the intersection, developer Leonard Ackerman has already gone through with the demolition of the run-down beverage store and has plans in place to construct a retail center.

While Ackerman’s new development is the only arm of this trio of construction projects to be built entirely from scratch, the building will be designed to look like the white, columned Greek Revival buildings being restored to its east.

According to Julie Greene of the historical society, the Bull’s Head and Nathanial Rogers homes date back to the 1840s. A man named Abraham Rose once owned the property on both sides of the road, but he sold the southern parcel to Nathanial Rogers in 1829. A little more than a decade later, Greene said, both men simultaneously built their homes in the Greek revival style.

Greene somewhat lamented the fact that the original building on the former beverage store site — which was thought to have been built in 1698 — had been demolished decades ago when the beverage store was actually a Shell Oil gas station. But, she said the proposed alternative is a desirable alternative to what stood in its place.

“I think anything would be better than how that beverage store looked in its last days,” she joked.

“It’s great to have buildings that complement each other,” she said of all three construction plans.

Hal Zwick, a real estate agent with Devlin McNiff Halstead who is representing Ackerman’s development, said the site is scheduled to be completed by 2013. However, he’s already soliciting businesses that are interested in moving into the retail space. In total, the spot can potentially house up to seven unique businesses, although Zwick also said he’s been in talks with at least one company that expressed an interest in renting out the entire complex.

Across the street, however, history was of the utmost importance when the Bridgehampton Historical Society decided to buy the Nathaniel Rogers house back in 2003. Through a combination of grant money from the state and donations from the town of Southampton (all totaling roughly $1.7 million), as well as private funds donated by members of the Bridgehampton community, Bridgehampton Historical Society Director John Eilertsen said the current phase of the restoration project — namely revamping the building’s exterior — is set to be completed in April.

From here, he added, “What we’re hoping is that the town will come up with an additional dollar amount so that we can proceed with the interior.”

While Eilertsen said the time-frame for the rest of the project is largely dependent on whether or not the historical society secures enough financial donations and grant money to proceed, he ball-parked this building’s completion for two-and-a-half to three years from now.

Looking at a more immediate start date, the Topping Rose House aims to open its doors by the start of the summer season. Though the 3-acre site will ultimately include four 2-story guest cottages along the property’s eastern edge, a spa, a swimming pool and a crabapple orchard along the highway, building manager Fran Reres said only the historic Inn, with seven guest rooms, is expected to be open for business this summer. (The rest of the property — housing 22 rooms total — is expected to be finished a year from now.)

While historic preservation was a relative after thought for this project proposal, it is now ingrained in the day-to-day tasks of everyone involved. In fact, as part of Campbell’s deal with the Town of Southampton, he hired local historian Robert Strada to be the historical consultant for the entire redevelopment project. Since construction began back in August, Strada said he has already uncovered a historic barn (actually found hidden within a storage shed on the property), and he’s helped the project managers, JGP Pinnacle, LLC, identify elements of historical significance.

“The Southampton Town Planning Board is requiring that they document the entire process,” Strada said with an almost palpable enthusiasm. He even pointed to the project’s blueprints, which state specifically, “That alteration and restoration of the Inn shall comply with the Secretary of Interior’s standards for the treatment of historic properties.”

Strada said he gets calls from the site whenever someone uncovers something that may potentially be of historic significance. In fact, he said, it happens quite frequently.

“Just this morning, [Construction Manager Steve Knopp] found a special piece of iron,” Strada revealed.

He doesn’t’ know for sure whether it has historical significance or not, but Strada will certainly investigate it.

All his findings — pictures and historic information — will be put on display throughout the Topping Rose House. And, as it is the nature of their institution, Bridgehampton Historical Society members will do the same.

It may be over a century since the Toppings and Rogers families made Bridgehampton their home, but today’s building projects are making certain they are still remembered.

Three-hundred-year-old Surprise

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Concealed by hedges

By Claire Walla

The unremarkable white building sat on the property at the northeast corner of Montauk Highway and Bridgehampton Turnpike for years. Most drivers probably thought nothing of it when they drove past. In fact, Southampton Town Historian Zach Studenroth said even he probably never would have known about the 18thcentury warehouse, which stood on the site of the Bull’s Head Inn, had he not been asked to go to the site to officially survey the scene before its scheduled demolition.

“It was almost an afterthought,” Studenroth said of scrutinizing the small, two-story structure behind the Bull’s Head Inn.

He was walking the grounds with the property’s current caretaker when, as Studenroth put it, “I said, while we’re here, let me just poke my head into the barn in the backyard.”

There was nothing about the exterior that indicated the building had any historical significance whatsoever, he said. The outer walls had been constructed as recently as 1907. But on the inside, the building’s story suddenly gained depth.

It had oversized timber framing that protruded into the room inside. Right away, Studenroth noticed it bore the characteristics of “post-and-beam” architecture, a style dating back to the early 18th century. According to Studenroth, it was the first style of architecture seen here on the East End that was built by European settlers..

“It appeared to be in pretty good and complete condition,” Studenroth continued. “So, when I got back to the office, I fired-off a quick email to the powers that be in town hall saying, yes indeed, the building is of historical significance” and was worth saving.

Property owner Bill Campbell had submitted a demolition application to the town regarding two smaller structures adjacent to the Bull’s Head Inn, including this building. But, part of the application stipulated that Southampton Town officials the right to lay claim to any part of the property it deemed historically significant. While the building was certainly old, as Studenroth determined, it was worthy of saving for reasons beyond merely its age.

Based on architectural design elements, Studenroth said it was probably used as a warehouse, adding that, “We don’t know of any other warehouse that’s left standing of this type — that’s what makes this so exciting.”

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In fact, Studenroth believes he can date the building back to 1730, to the Hulbert family, who traded rum, whale oil and perhaps even furs out of Bridgehampton nearly 300 years ago. This information has not exactly been confirmed — Studenroth is still working to date the building more precisely — but this aspect of his analysis comes by way of Hampton Library, which has in its possession a ledger from 1760. The book documents trade items, like rum and whale oil, which were traded in Sag Harbor by the Hulbert family.

Studenroth and local builder Robert Strada — who supervised the deconstruction of the building — worked together to identify the historic aspects of the structure.

“The big thing that distinguishes a barn from a house is the chimney,” Studenroth explained. But, this building’s roof and floorboards do not appear to have ever been fashioned to make room for such an imposition. “The building does not appear to have ever been heated.”

What’s more, he added, “Barns have a distinctive way of being framed. This is considerably smaller than a barn.”

“It could have been a carriage house, but that’s not something you’d expect to see at that time,” Studenroth noted. “If someone were wealthy enough to have a carriage, they’d probably have stuck it in the barn.”

Studenroth continued, “This kind of building is so over-framed. The floor joints were very closely spaced — doubling what you’d expect to see in the period — so the building was constructed to support something very heavy above. It was over-engineered to carry heavy loads.”

According to Strada — who has done restoration on old homes in the past — the building’s overly sturdy construction speaks volumes to its presumed history.

Not only did some of the wooden beams still contained an outer layer of tree bark, a detail that would have been sanded down had the structure been intended for a home; but, Strada said, the “joists” (or wooden beams), were fashioned so close together because the building owners “were storing rum on the second floor and they didn’t want the floor to break.”

Strada and his crew, with help from building owner Bill Campbell, took the structure apart by hand, making sure to remove each outer layer carefully “like an onion” so as to keep the original building frame intact.

Now, Studenroth said, the challenge is to find a new home where the town can reconstruct the building as it stood 300 years ago.

“We want it to be protected, and enjoyed by the public,” he said. “So far, it’s been disassembled and it’s tarped,” he continued, quickly adding that it’s in good standing.

“It came through the hurricane this weekend, so we got it that far!”

Bridgehampton CAC Protests Bulls Head Inn Plan

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Attorneys representing the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) filed a letter with the Southampton Town Planning Board last week reiterating the CAC’s objection to a proposal to expand Bridgehampton’s historic Bulls Head Inn into a 22-bedroom hotel with a restaurant and wellness center.

The letter was filed on December 28, the day of the CAC’s monthly meeting and the last day the town would accept public comments on the proposal’s environmental impact statement. Bridgehampton CAC Chairman Fred Cammann, said the impact statement fails to address the committee’s concern that the project will not be economically feasible in the current recession, and that the overall project fails to maintain the historic integrity of the property. He added that public opinion from residents and advocacy groups like the Group for the East End has been largely against the development in its current state.

The property, located at the corner of Montauk Highway and the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike, is know as the Bulls Head Inn, but is actually the Judge Abraham Topping Rose House. Currently owned by Bill Campbell, a former chief executive at Phillip Morris, Campbell has sought to develop The Orchard at Bulls Head Inn, by renovating the historic inn, adding four new cottages on the property and a parking lot. A historic barn is also proposed to be moved and renovated into the development.

Concerns with the project have included additions on the property being too modern and not in keeping with the Greek revival architecture found on-site, that the historic building will be diminished by additions to the Bulls Head Inn and concerns that the project is too large and not in keeping with the neighborhood. Project sponsors have argued the project would boost business in the area.

The Southampton Town Planning Board is scheduled to address the Bulls Head Inn project at its meeting today, Thursday, January 7 at 1 p.m. According to Cammann, the committee will continue to fight the application once it is heard by the town’s zoning board of appeals. In that application, Cambell will ask that an adjacent northern parcel be down-zoned from residential to commercial, in addition to other variances to allow for the project which required two lots be merged.

“We object to the de facto zoning,” writes the CAC in their response. “Given the substantial objections to the down zoning, the proposed project should be rejected.”

“Nor does the sponsor directly answer our position that having relied on the standards of the National Park Service, it should not ignore them,” continues the CAC’s response to the impact statement.  “What the sponsor’s responses show clearly is that the integrity of the Inn is not going to be preserved and there will be major changes. For example, with respect to the barn being moved, the sponsor states that “the barn’s “new position closer to the main house would better integrate it into the property’s new use….” We submit that a new use and a change of an existing structure does not meet the criteria which the sponsor claims it is following.”

Cammann also announced that New York State and Suffolk County have succeeded in financing the completion of the sidewalk project on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike.

Lastly, Cammann said Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne Holst has announced she will appoint a member of the town board to serve each Southampton Town CAC in an effort to create greater communication through the town’s various hamlets. Town councilwoman Nancy Graboski, a resident of Bridgehampton, will likely serve the Bridgehampton CAC. Issues Bridgehampton has chosen to focus on include how town financing is dictated and arranged.

Bulls Head Neighbors: Is Project Too Big or Just Right?

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By Marianna Levine

There was a lot on the Bridgehampton Citizen’s Advisory Committee’s agenda this past Monday night, but the bulk of the evening focused on plans for a 22 room hotel and wellness center at the intersection of the Bridgehampton -Sag Harbor Turnpike and Montauk Highway. The Orchard at Bull’s Head Inn would renovate the old Bull’s Head Inn at that intersection and add four new cottages and a parking lot. The historic barn behind the inn would also be renovated and incorporated into the high-end resort.

Opinion on the proposed development was decidedly mixed, as it has been in other recent meetings. Phillip Cammann, a neighbor of the property, and son of CAC chair Fred Cammann made a presentation on the proposed development, displaying the site plans and architectual renderings for all to review. Jeremy Samuelson from the Group for the East End also attended the meeting and expressed, “concern that the size and scale of the project goes above and beyond what is appropriate for the first parcel of land.” He referred to the second parcel of land right behind the Bull’s Head Inn, which will also be used in the development, as a residential parcel that will be used as overflow from what is already “too big” a project on the first parcel.

An audience member suggested that “the scale is related to the economic viability of the project,” and he didn’t understand why people were objecting when that intersection “has been a disaster and disgrace for over forty years.”

“Bill Campbell (the Bull’s Head Inn’s owner) has gone to great lengths to preserve and save the building, and I think that corner is essential to the beauty of the town,” said the speaker. “I understand people living around it are very upset but when you think about it the Bridge-Sag turnpike is a very commercial thoroughfare.”

Another neighbor Leonard Davenport, who lives two doors down from the project added, “We need to come together as a group and say that this corner is the most important corner of Bridgehampton. The owner is probably not going to make a great deal of money from this but he does need to make something for his effort in preserving these buildings.” (Existing property at left)

Attorney David Gilmartin, who represents the owner of the development, was present. He had actually come to observe the discussion by the CAC about another matter, however he agreed to answer questions concerning the Bull’s Head Inn. He explained the second parcel of land was a “preexisting non-conforming use” lot, and the owner was permitted to make an application for the use of that land as part of the hotel complex.

Gilmartin also addressed several CAC members’ concerns about the new cottage’s architecture. Several CAC members were upset by their modern appearance. He said the project’s architects had advised the developer “to make the cabins more modern so as not to take away from the historic building in the front.” He then stressed, “Mr. Campbell doesn’t want the community to be upset with his building, but you have to come to us with specifics about the size and scale of the project. I think if you look at the plans you will see that the scale is not that large. We’re open to having this discussion. We can come and make a presentation if you like.” To which the CAC chair forcefully responded, “We’re not interested in your presenting this project again!”

Fred Cammann then explained that Gilmartin was actually there to discuss the gunnite plant behind Agway in Bridgehampton since he represents the surrounding neighbors. Apparently the owner of the property had built a cement plant without planning permission, and had been placed under a court order not to continue operating the plant until the next hearing on this property on March 19. Gilmartin explained he had only been allowed to park trucks there but apparently he had been recently video taped conducting other business on the site.


In other CAC business, Louis and Ari Miesel had been invited to give a builder’s perspective on property development in eastern Long Island. Their focus has been on developing office space along Montauk Highway. However, they have included affordable apartments within their buildings for people such as teachers, firefighters, and police officers who are often priced out of housing on the East End. Currently they are developing a piece of property in Water Mill next to Hampton Coffee.

Ari Miesel explained that this project had been delayed for about two years primarily because they believe in building green buildings. They follow the LEED standards, which are a higher green building standard than what is currently written in the town codes.  Often times what the town requires, such as asphalt parking lots for office buildings, runs counter to parking lots that use greener building substances such as crushed peat stone. Ari Miesel noted the town’s codes are probably about ten years out of date and the public and town need to realize that “green building is not a fad but the future.” He also wanted to inform the CAC “green building goes hand in hand with historic preservation.”

Southampton councilwoman Nancy Graboski attended the CAC meeting and responded enthusiastically to the suggestions stating, “this is music to my ears.” She added supervisor  Linda Kabot, councilwoman Anna Thorne-Holst, and herself have started a committee “Sustainable Southampton” to address these issues. She suggested people need to be better educated on the subject and invited Ari Miesel to talk to “Sustainable Southampton” and also suggested his joining the Southampton Business Alliance.


After a long meeting Jeffery Vogel quickly wrapped things up by giving an update on the CAC’s revised hamlet study. He displayed a map of the hamlet’s current boundaries. The final revision wouldn’t be ready until March; however he wanted to show the CAC there seemed to be a problem with the southwestern boundary between Water Mill and Bridgehampton. Mr. Vogel suggested most people who live south of the highway but east of Mecox Bay consider themselves to live in Bridgehampton. Yet, the current hamlet map has them living in Water Mill. 


Neighbors Bicker over a Proposed Hotel and Restaurant in Bridgehampton

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Bulls Head Inn


As winds blew at tremendous speeds outside, so did differences of opinion inside Southampton Town Hall last Thursday as residents of the hamlet of Bridgehampton discussed the development of a new hotel and spa on the corner of Montauk Highway and the Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike — a gateway area of the hamlet.

The proposed resort has been discussed among members of the community for a number of years; this week, it was discussed during a planning board meeting where residents and interested parties had a chance to speak on the matter during a public hearing. 

The Bulls Head Inn would feature a 22-room hotel and restaurant with wellness center and conference center capabilities. The inn would also have spa-like amenities like quiet rooms, a pool and a workout gym.

Richard Van de Kieft of the Raynor Group, who represents the applicant, and owner Bill Campell, described the project as a “retreat destination with overnight accommodations.” The current facility, according to Van de Kieft, needs to be “restored” and “rehabilitated,”and the applicant would need to make some major repairs to bring the historic structure up to current health and safety requirements, including adding an elevator and some improvements to the stairs. The developers also intend to meet LEED standards, which will require green building techniques.

The project would not only rehabilitate the current structure, the historic Judge Abraham Rose House, but also add four two-story cottages of just over 1500 square feet on the property.  

Residents of Bridgehampton showed up on Thursday en masse to show both support, and discontent with the project.

The first speaker was James Levoci, a neighbor to the property. Levoci argued that the property is “not commercial and never was,” he then asked the members of the planning board, “how many of you would like to live next to a parking lot?”

Levoci also asked the planning board to investigate the zoning of the area and the “pre-existing, non-conforming” status of some of the structures. 


Neighbor speaks against the Bulls Head Inn

“You have a covenant with me,” said Levoci to the planning board. “If I purchased a piece of residential property then there is a covenant…the town has the responsibility to the taxpayer to uphold that covenant.”

He also said that if the project was approved, it would be similar to the town saying, “It’s okay to come in and devalue someone’s property.”

More arguments from Levoci included the traffic flow, parking and, because of the 24-hour operation, “people coming and going at all hours.” Lastly, Levoci suggested that the applicant “just build five houses,” rather than the proposed hotel.

Another Bridgehampton resident, Bill Thayer, offered an different opinion.

“Contrary to the other speaker, I think it is a beautiful building that will compliment the Hopping House [a dilapidated building across the street].”

“We are the gateway to the Hamptons,” said Thayer, adding that this would help improve the overall look of the hamlet.

He added that the project would be a “wonderful site” and it has an “overall aesthetic beauty,” to it.

Thayer argued that this has always been a commercial area of the hamlet.

Bridgehampton Resident Speaks in Favor of the Bulls Head Inn


“Is it commercial? You bet,” he said, “what is wrong with making money? This is the commercial end of Bridgehampton – always was and always has been. We are trying to beautify this section of town and make it come back to life in a way that everyone will appreciate.”

But Chairman of the Bridgehampton Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC), Fred Cammann, agreed with Lovoci, saying CAC members did look favorably on the proposal. 

“The CAC has always resisted commercial zoning of its current boundaries,” he said.

He continued that the new buildings would be damaging to the existing property owners, and maintained that the project would require some “down zoning” and the “community should be vigilant in preserving values, not allowing projects which would decrease values.”

Further, Cammann, argues that the construction of the four cottages on the eastern side of the property would be used as commercial structures in that they would be additional hotel rooms. He said the commercial structures “will affect the adjacent neighbors.”

“Such a change … is damaging to existing property owners of these residential properties and should not be allowed.”

“Somebody wants to take on this project that would only support the efforts across the street at the Nathanial Rogers house,” Sherry Dobbin, also a Bridgehampton resident, countered after Cammann spoke.

She said the project may seem overwhelming, but in fact it “there are only 22 rooms.”

“No one wants to live next to a parking lot, but there has been a lot of detail in the landscaping,” she added.

Planning board Chairperson, Dennis Finnerty, closed the hearing with a short 10 day written comment period, due to the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) deadline beginning on Thursday February 12.

“There is quite a bit of correspondence,” on the matter, according to Finnerty.