Tag Archive | "Cape Advisors"

Townhouses Rise at Watchcase

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By Kathryn G. Menu

About a month ago, Church and Sage streets in Sag Harbor began evolving in a way that will change their streetscapes forever, as the construction of nine luxury townhouses began to take shape, connected to what is arguably the largest construction project in village history.

Heller_Bulova Watchcase Factory Renovation 4-9-13_7522

While construction at the former Bulova Watchcase Factory has largely been focused on the restoration of the historic factory building, which is being converted into 47 luxury condominiums, the framing of the townhouses over the course of the last month has highlighted their role in the development of a once forsaken property into a luxury development coined Watchcase featuring multi-million condominiums.

Currently, much of the framing in the first four homes is close to finished along Sage Street, said David Kronman, a partner with Cape Advisors who has helped oversee the project since its infancy. Once those are close to being completely framed out, development will begin along Church Street.


The townhouses, which were designed by Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and project architect Baldassano Architecture, are based on a variety of architectural styles found in Sag Harbor during the 18th and 19th centuries. The townhouses alone will host 17 units, a house unit in each facing the street and eight bungalow units facing the interior gardens of the Watchcase property.

“The house designs are not reproductions of architecture from any specific period, but they employ a variety of vernacular building elements that touch on architecture throughout the village’s history,” said Kronman.

While drawing on historic elements may be what Cape Advisors hopes will allow the townhouses to retain an authentic, Sag Harbor aesthetic, the interiors — designed by Steven Gambrel who is responsible for interior design throughout the whole of the project — will be outfitted with modern luxury in mind, said Kronman, with high ceilings and modern amenities as well as direct accessibility to concierge services, a fitness center and spa.

“This may be for someone who is looking for a Sag Harbor home in the historic district and walking distance to the village, but one that offers turn key living, a maintenance free lifestyle,” he added.

The house units will vary from four to six bedrooms and 3,000 to 4,800 square feet, while the bungalow units will range from 1,000 to 1,350 square feet and will feature one to two bedrooms. They will feature terraces and garden patios, but also access to the heated saltwater pool and an underground parking garage, which will provide parking for all residents within the Watchcase development.

The units — bungalow and house units — will range in price from $800,000 to over $6 million.

According to Arthur Blee, director of design and construction for Cape Advisors, the firm hopes to have the entire project completed by Memorial Day of 2014, but the exteriors of the townhouses should be completed by the end of this summer.

While the framing lining Sage Street is impossible to ignore — that section of street long inhabited by concrete and fencing around the rear of the aging factory building — Blee said it will only be when the windows, siding and shingles are added that the true character of the streetscape will emerge.

“The design breaks up the façade on the street,” said Kronman.

In other news out of the Watchcase project, on Tuesday night, the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees agreed to issue a building permit for the Watchcase Factory Development and waive the additional $206,575 fee.

According to a resolution drafted by village attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr., this is a renewal of the original building permit, which expired in April.

On Tuesday, Thiele said when the village sets a fee it is meant to simply cover the cost of administrative services needed to cover village operations as it related to that specific project. When these fees are viewed as a revenue source, Thiele noted that becomes more of a tax on an applicant, which is illegal.

“In this case, the fee was already collected is more than sufficient,” said Thiele, who noted he had already met with building inspector Tim Platt to discuss the matter.

Developers Hope for 2014 Opening for New Baron’s Cove Inn

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By Kathryn G. Menu

Cape Advisors, the firm in contract to purchase the Baron’s Cove Inn on West Water Street, hopes to break ground on a renovation to update the aging hotel including the addition of a new restaurant some time this spring, eyeing an opening before Memorial Day 2014.

On Thursday night, February 14, the Sag Harbor Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board (ARB) gave Cape Advisors its nod of approval, signing off on the design of the restaurant building.

Thursday night was not the first time the ARB was given a glimpse of the structure, which is a part of a full re-design of the Baron’s Cove Inn parcel initially proposed by property owners KBR two years ago. After earning initial approval to revamp the hotel and its rooms in early 2011, the company through Cape Advisors announced it would pursue a restaurant on the property. The first design for the restaurant, which will replace an existing motel office building, mimicked a historic Sag Harbor Whaling Captain’s House. It was an aesthetic the ARB encouraged architect Thomas Pedrazzi of Studio Pedrazzi, which has partnered with Stokes Architecture in the design of this project, to move away from.

The building, which is two-stories, will be 3,710 square feet, with a lobby, small store and bar with eight seats on the first floor and a 79-seat restaurant on the second floor.

“You felt we were going too Colonial, too boathouse, so what we did was try and incorporate the existing building, said Cape Advisors project manager Curtis Sachs, adding the new design aimed to take on more of a nautical, marina feel to it, rather than try to create a historic, Sag Harbor feel to the building.

ARB Chairman Cee Scott Brown appreciated the change.

“The board felt it was trying too hard to be a historic structure attached to a structure that is what it is,” he said.

“We are happy with the direction this has taken,” he added.

Brown asked Sachs to review some of the concessions Cape Advisors offered the planning board during its environmental review of the project – which was completed and approved last year. Towards the end of the planning board’s review, neighbors began to protest the project in earnest. Increased traffic and noise, as well as whether or not the bar space should be considered a separate use as it was located on the first floor and away from the restaurant, were just some of the chief issues raised by neighbors and the not-for-profit Save Sag Harbor.

Just next door to the Baron’s Cove Inn sits the West Water Street condominiums, which may be resurrected later this spring. Before that property was purchased for condominium development, it housed the infamous Rocco’s nightclub, a business that plagued neighboring residents with late light revelers, traffic, trash and loud music.

In response, Cape Advisors – which needed no variances for this project to move forward – agreed to a host of restrictions and agreed to have them placed on the deed, meaning if the property is purchased by another party they will have to adhere to the concessions.

Under those restrictions, Cape Advisors has agreed to have last call for any alcohol in the outdoor dining area on a proposed patio no later than 10 p.m., all outdoor background music will end at 9 p.m. nightly, last call at the restaurant’s bar will be no later than midnight and the hours of the restaurant bar will be tied to the hours of the dining room. However room service will still be permitted to sell alcohol.

Cape Advisors has also agreed to prohibit bottle service of liquor and will not allow cover charges or entry fees, which are common calling cards of nightclubs.

A proposed concession stand will not offer alcohol.

The pool will also be restricted to hotel guests and their guests and will be closed at 9 p.m. as will the outdoor concession area.

“We wanted to make it very clear we are not looking to do a Rocco’s and were willing to make voluntary concessions to ensure it would not become a nightclub,” said Sachs.

“Once bit, twice shy,” said Brown.

Sachs also walked the board through an extensive landscaping plan that will include privet hedge, at four feet, with a split rail fence behind it and hydrangeas and sea foam roses placed behind the fencing.

Private gardens are planned for the first floor rooms, he added, and the parking and tennis court repaired to bring the entire property up to the standard of the new rooms and restaurant.

Lighting is minimal, added Sachs, with small copper light fixtures, facing down, planned to highlight each room entry and number and lighting on three paths through the property. The parking lot will not be extensively lit, he said.

The ARB approved the plan, although asked for one window to be converted to a triangle rather than circular shape to fit in with the angled aesthetic throughout the rest of the property.

The next Sag Harbor ARB meeting will be held on Monday, February 25 at 5 p.m.


Despite Continued Neighbor Protest, Baron’s Cove Restaurant Approved by Sag Harbor Planning Board

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By Kathryn G. Menu

A proposed restaurant at Baron’s Cove Inn was unanimously approved by the Sag Harbor Village Planning Board on Tuesday night, despite continued protests by neighbors. Some residents continue to question the legality of the restaurant under the village code and the potential noise they feel could impact them.

Beginning in the spring of 2011, owners KBR Associates announced they planned to incorporate a restaurant into the Baron’s Cove property as part of a redevelopment of the inn with the help of Cape Advisors, owners of the condominium project at the former Bulova Watchcase Factory on Division Street.

At the time, Cape Advisors served in a management role for KBR, but has since contracted to purchase the West Water Street, Sag Harbor property.

Starting in 2011, the entities proposed demolishing an existing 768 square-foot office that connects to the motel and building a new 3,710 square-foot, two-story restaurant, featuring 79 restaurant seats on the second floor and an eight seat bar with lobby area and retail space on the first floor.

The restaurant will feature three patios, two of which look out over the water and the resort’s pool, which will also host a concession stand.

In the summer of 2012, after the project came back in front of the planning board after being on hiatus over the winter, neighbors as well as the not-for-profit Save Sag Harbor began to weigh in on the project. Some asked whether a bar space on a separate floor from the restaurant itself was legal under the village code. Others expressed concern about the noise impact the proposed bar and restaurant could have on the surrounding residential neighborhood.

Neighbors like Angela Scott said they were not opposed to the project itself, but were specifically concerned about the noise impact. Next door to Baron’s Cove Inn is the now defunct West Water Street condominium project, once the home of the bar Rocco’s, a late-night establishment which was a source of constant ire for many residents in that neighborhood.

Those concerns continued to find their way into the planning board’s meeting, albeit in written form, after village attorney Denise Schoen cautioned the board from allowing more public comment, since the record on the project had been closed.

Schoen’s response came as a result of chairman Neil Slevin’s suggestion that the board offer a public comment period for the handful of residents seated in the Municipal Building meeting room Tuesday night.

Schoen added that a letter, submitted by Save Sag Harbor, contained a question about whether or not the village code was being interpreted properly in this case. The letter raised concern about the possibility of Cape Advisors applying for an entertainment permit, required for all establishments that want to have live music indoors or outdoors in Sag Harbor Village. She said it would not be part of any formal record if in fact this case was appealed to a judicial body.

“The public comment period cannot go on forever,” she said. “At some point you do have to close it.”

Schoen said she was unsure what mechanism the board would use to reopen the hearing, but was not persuaded by the board to pursue that answer.

Board member Larry Perrine noted that at last month’s meeting the board had asked if anyone had more comments to make about the project and no one responded.

Board member Greg Ferraris added that issues challenging the building inspector’s opinion that this is, in fact, a legal accessory restaurant to the existing motel use as proposed are not issues the board can address. In September, the board reached out to building inspector Tim Platt for a second time asking him to review the plans and their legality under the code. He agreed the plan, which does not require any variances from the zoning board of appeals, does in fact meet code.

Schoen added issues like whether or not the village should clarify the code could only be taken up by the village board of trustees.

Board member Jack Tagliasacchi wondered about the entertainment public permit referred to in the Save Sag Harbor letter and whether that would upend the series of covenants Cape Advisors has promised to put on the property – covenants that will run with the land.

Under those restrictions, Cape Advisors has agreed to have last call for any alcohol in the outdoor dining area on a proposed patio no later than 10 p.m., all outdoor background music will end at 9 p.m. nightly, last call at the restaurant’s bar will be no later than midnight and the hours of the restaurant bar will be tied to the hours of the dining room. However room service will still be permitted to sell alcohol.

Cape Advisors has also agreed to prohibit bottle service of liquor and will not allow cover charges or entry fees, which are common calling cards of nightclubs.

The pool will also be restricted to hotel guests and their guests and will be closed at 9 p.m. as will the outdoor concession area.

Schoen noted Cape Advisors would still have a right to apply for the entertainment public permit, a permit that was designed to legalize live, non-amplified music — limited to three musicians in a group — as well as background music “within the confines of an establishment,” according to the village code.

Under that chapter, businesses also have the right to apply to the village board for three special request permits annually that allow businesses to extend live music beyond the village’s 2 a.m. limitation and allows live music to continue until 3 a.m.

Obtaining these permits requires the approval of the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees.

“When the public feels threatened by the potential of an event, the obvious thing to do is to go to the village board of trustees and say, we don’t want Sag Harbor to be a party center,” said Slevin.

Slevin said he believed the work the board did with Cape Advisors to place restrictions on the property – a voluntary move by the firm, which was able to construct this project as of right according to Platt – will go a long way to alleviating noise.

The covenants – including those restricting outdoor music – said Schoen cannot be overturned without the planning board’s consent.

After the meeting, Scott – one of many neighbors concerned about the project – sent the planning board a letter stating she had hoped the board would reopen the public hearing because she believed the information about Cape Advisors seeking a special permit was raised after the public hearing was closed last month.

She added documentation Save Sag Harbor requested via the Freedom of Information Act was not available – not for lack of trying on the building department staff’s part – in a timely enough fashion for the organization to respond before the public hearing was closed.

“We respectfully request that the Planning Board put an end to this whole issue before it turns into another nightmare for the neighborhood,” said Scott and a group of neighboring property owners in a separate letter sent to the board. “We do not want to be sitting in our kitchens or on our back porches being forced to listen to background music or live entertainment all day long until 9 at night, everyday of the week.”


Baron’s Cove Inn Restaurant Likely To Earn Sag Harbor Village Approval Next Month

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By Kathryn G. Menu

It appears likely Cape Advisors will earn final approval from the Sag Harbor Village Planning Board next month to construct a restaurant this winter at Baron’s Cove Inn on West Water Street. The restaurant is part of the firm’s plans to transform the inn into a family-friendly, resort destination.

During a contentious August meeting, some neighbors protested the restaurant design, which includes a first floor bar area next to an expansive lobby — an aspect of the plan that had neighbors reeling with memories of Rocco’s, an unwelcome nightclub fixture on West Water Street for many years.

The not-for-profit Save Sag Harbor was also present at the meeting, with attorney Susan Meade arguing if approved, she believed the village would be legalizing a second primary use, rather than an accessory restaurant to a resort motel. An accessory restaurant is legal under the Sag Harbor Village code for the parcels that hold both Baron’s Cove Inn and the neighboring Sag Harbor Inn.

The neighbors called on the planning board to send the plans back to Sag Harbor Building Inspector Tim Platt to review whether or not the proposed restaurant was truly an accessory use to the resort-motel.

Last Friday, Platt agreed it was.

In an October 19 memo to the planning board, Platt noted the restaurant fell within the size limitations for an accessory restaurant use under the village code, was proposing 87 seats — including the eight proposed for the bar space — which also meets code and is providing 80 parking spaces where 63 are required.

Platt goes on to argue that bars are commonly associated with restaurants in Sag Harbor and that under the code unless alcohol sales became the primary sales out of the restaurant it would be considered ancillary.

Platt also pointed to a list of restrictions Cape Advisors has agreed to put on the property — restrictions that will run with the land no matter who it is sold to in the future — as evidence of the company’s commitment to serving alcohol only around the times the restaurant is actually in service.

Under the restrictions, Cape Advisors has agreed to have last call for any alcohol in the outdoor dining area on a proposed patio no later than 10 p.m., all outdoor background music will end at 9 p.m. nightly, last call at the restaurant’s bar will be no later than midnight and the hours of the restaurant bar will be tied to the hours of the dining room. However, he added, room service will still be permitted to sell alcohol.

Cape Advisors has also agreed to prohibit bottle service of liquor and will not allow cover charges or entry fees, which are common calling cards of nightclubs.

The pool will also be restricted to hotel guests and their guests and will be closed at 9 p.m. as will the outdoor concession area.

The planning board also questioned the use of the concession area at last month’s meeting. During their October session, on Tuesday night, Cape Advisors partner David Kronman said the stand would hold bathrooms, towel service and would sell water and ice cream to hotel guests. Alcohol, he said, will not be sold out of the concession stand.

In order to alleviate some parking concerns expressed by neighbors last month, Kronman said the firm has also explored valet car service, which he estimated could add about 10 spaces to the 80 space lot. A hotel manager will have the power to implement valet service on busy summer nights, said Kronman.

Given what he called the “unprecedented restrictions” Cape Advisors have agreed to place on the land, Kronman asked the board to move forward in approving the application.

On Tuesday night, not one resident spoke out against the project.

Walking through site plan issues the planning board must assess when reviewing a project — traffic, parking, screening, consistency with development in the area, outdoor lighting and drainage, during issue after issue, Sag Harbor Village environmental planning consultant Rich Warren noted based on revised plans submitted last month the application not only met code, but in terms of things like drainage was also improving the parcel.

In a straw poll, the board was unanimous that if Tim Platt signs off on the final set of plans and no red flags are raised in the board’s own review over the course of the next month it will approve Cape Advisors application at its November 27 meeting.

Sag Harbor Village attorney Denise Schoen was instructed to draft a draft approval for that session.

Sag Harbor Planning Board Moves Baron’s Cove Inn Restaurant Forward Despite Neighbor Protest

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Despite protests by neighbors, some of whom had to battle for the right to speak, on Tuesday night the Sag Harbor Village Planning Board issued a negative declaration under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) for a proposal to create a restaurant space at Baron’s Cove Inn on West Water Street

That means the planning board believes the proposal does not carry the potential to cause a significant adverse environmental impact on the community.

Cape Advisors, which is developing the property, will still need to gain site plan approval from the Sag Harbor Planning Board for the 79 seat restaurant. Cape Advisors has asked to demolish an existing one-story lobby/office at Baron’s Cove Inn, which the firm is in contract to purchase, and replace it with a two-story restaurant.

While the restaurant seating will be located on the second floor, the proposed bar space for the restaurant is on the first floor next to the lobby. It is that aspect of the plan that has drawn the ire and concern of neighbors, as well as the not-for-profit Save Sag Harbor. The fear is because the bar is located on a different floor than the restaurant that it will become a destination bar space. Years ago, neighbors had to deal with Rocco’s, a nearby nightclub that many say ruined their quality of life.

In addition to the restaurant, the planning board is also reviewing a concession stand near the swimming pool.

On Tuesday night, Cape Advisors partner David Kronman reiterated a list of deed restrictions his firm has agreed to place on the property — restrictions that would run with the property even if it sold to another company.

Under the restrictions, Cape Advisors has agreed to have last call for any alcohol in the outdoor dining area on a proposed patio no later than 10 p.m., all outdoor background music will end at 9 p.m. nightly, last call at the restaurant’s bar will be no later than midnight and the hours of the restaurant bar, said Kronman, will be tied to the hours of the dining room. However, he added, room service will still be permitted to sell alcohol.

Cape Advisors has also agreed to prohibit bottle service of liquor and will not allow cover charges or entry fees, which are common calling cards of nightclubs.

The pool will also be restricted to hotel guests and their guests, said Kronman and will be closed at 9 p.m. as will the outdoor concession area.

“There is nothing more we can offer short of diluting our brand and the guest experience at the hotel,” said Kronman. “Cape Advisors believes we have a sensible project that is consistent with the village code. We are vested in Sag Harbor, here for the long run and have always tried to do the right thing.”

Planning board chairman Neil Slevin said he had heard the company was also considering valet parking on busy summer nights to protect the neighborhood from a parking problem, but Cape Advisors’ attorney Tiffany Scarlato said the 81 parking spaces in the inn’s parking lot fulfill the parking requirements in the village code.

In light of neighbor concerns, village attorney Denise Schoen said the board is limited in the way it assesses this project. First, she said, the board cannot assume Cape Advisors intends to break the law and convert the bar into a nightclub, for example. Second, a bar is only permitted under the village code in the hotel/motel district as an accessory to a restaurant, and only building inspector Tim Platt can make that determination.

Slevin said despite moving forward with the negative declaration, he would ask Platt to review the full application and ensure it does meet the village code.

He also asked Kronman for details on what the concession stand will offer.

Slevin said he believed protections in the code coupled with enforcement, deed restrictions and the scope of the project would ultimately be protective of neighbors. Many issues will also be hammered out in site plan review, said Slevin.

Before the board could act, neighbors began protesting, arguing their right to speak. Zelda Wirtschafter said she was concerned about parking, particularly now that parking is limited on Long Island Avenue, which could send cars onto neighborhood side streets.

“It seems there is more likely a potential use of that bar as a destination place for people in Sag Harbor to go there for a drink rather than go there just for the restaurant,” said Wirtschafter who added that she believed parking was a SEQRA issue.

“They meet the parking standards in the code,” said Schoen. “There is not much more you can do beyond that.”

At that point, Slevin tried to cut the conversation short, much to the ire of the crowd.

Neighbor Angela Scott said she believes the square footage of the downstairs bar area will allow for 265 people, 142 in the lobby lounge, 70 on the side covered porch and 53 on the front porch.

“It’s not just that it is on the ground floor,” said Scott. “The problem is the potential size of the bar area.”

Susan Mead, representing Save Sag Harbor, said her board was also concerned about calling this bar an accessory use, as they see it as a second primary use because of the bar’s location and potential size. For a second primary use a property owner would need zoning board of appeals (ZBA) approval.

“This is a very scary prospect,” said Mead. “It is an expansion of the code that could be done over and over and over again. It is a horrible precedent.”

Baron’s Cove Inn Restaurant Debate Continues Next Tuesday

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The Sag Harbor Planning Board will continue a public hearing next week on a proposal by Cape Advisors to re-develop the Baron’s Cove Inn on West Water Street in Sag Harbor through the addition of a two-story building, which will house a lobby and bar on the first floor and a restaurant on the second story.

The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 25.

Last month, a group of neighbors emerged with concerns about the proposed development, specifically that the bar area for the restaurant is proposed for the first floor.

Among other things, neighbors have asked that Cape Advisors move the bar area to the second floor and have asked that all music be kept inside, rather than allowing outside music on the patio near the pool area.

Neighbors have said they are concerned, despite the fact that Cape Advisors has offered a series of concessions including limiting alcohol service to midnight, that under the current plan the downstairs of the restaurant with a bar and lobby area able to accommodate a significant number of people and the space could become a popular destination in the evenings as such.

Baron’s Cove Dining Unnerves Neighbors

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The specter of Rocco’s, the former nightclub where the now defunct West Water Street condominium project sits, remains a strong force in Sag Harbor. This was evidenced as a proposed restaurant with a bar next door at a reimagined Baron’s Cove Inn drove scores of neighbors to the Sag Harbor Village Planning Board meeting on Tuesday night.

At the meeting, Cape Advisors partner Curtis Bashaw announced his firm has contracted to purchase the Baron’s Cove Inn from KBR Associates, which has owned the property since 2009.

Cape Advisors, the company restoring and renovating the former Bulova Watchcase Factory property into luxury condominiums and townhouses, has been managing the development of Baron’s Cove through the Cape Resorts branch of the company.

Tuesday night was the first admission by the company that it intended to purchase Baron’s Cove Inn, which was approved last year for the exterior renovation of its existing rooms. For the last year-and-a-half, KBR Associates through Cape Advisors has pursued approval to build a restaurant on the Baron’s Cove Inn site.

The restaurant is proposed to allow for 87 seats and will be on the second floor of a two-story building Cape Advisors would like to build where the current motel office sits today. The ground floor is proposed to have a lobby and bar, as well as a small retail space for sundries.

Any outdoor seating — proposed to be 18 seats in season and eight bar seats — have been counted in the total 87 seats the restaurant would be allowed under the village code.

The project conforms completely with the village zoning code and does not need any variances.

On Tuesday night, with the knowledge that residents around Baron’s Cove Inn had organized and were concerned about the impact this project could have on them, Bashaw offered a number of covenants to ensure the bar and outdoor pool spaces do not spiral into the second coming of Rocco’s. As someone who grew up in a small town, he noted he appreciates the need to protect community character and that his company is interested in growing roots in Sag Harbor, not developing it and walking away.

“We want to make sure this really integrates into the spirit of a place and dovetails nicely into the kind of place this already is,” said Bashaw to the roughly 60 people packed into the Sag Harbor Village Municipal Building meeting room.

In Cape May, N.J., Cape Advisors has developed five hotels, noted Bashaw, two of which are historic buildings. All of their properties are developed as “family-friendly,” said Bashaw.

“It’s lemonade, bicycles and lots of flags,” he said. “We believe in the authenticity of our projects and the authenticity of our guest’s experience.”

Bashaw added the last thing he would want to do is resurrect the experience neighbors’ had with Rocco’s.

“It’s just not what we are about,” he said.

Bashaw noted the pool area will be fenced off from the restaurant, and the company has agreed to limit the times alcohol is served on the property beyond the limitations set by the State Liquor Authority, which allows bars to serve alcohol until 4 a.m.

Bashaw said after hearing neighbors’ concerns he has even agreed to put some of the concessions in a deed that will run with the land, whether it is sold or not.

Bashaw said the pool will be restricted to hotel guests only. On the patio, any acoustic music will end at 9 p.m. and outdoors last call will be 10 p.m. All alcohol service, said Bashaw, will end at midnight.

The restaurant will also not have cover charges or bottle service to avoid any club-like atmosphere.

While neighbors requested the bar be located upstairs, Bashaw said they did not want to take away from the aesthetic they believe the bar space gives to the lobby.

In terms of poolside dining, he added his firm doesn’t want to tell guests they cannot have a sandwich by the pool, and the company would also be loath to restrict outdoor games, as has been requested by neighbors.

Angela Scott, a Spring Street resident representing a number of neighbors, said she appreciated the restrictions, but said they did not go far enough.

She questioned the size and location of the bar as the restaurant is meant to be accessory to the hotel use. Scott said the bar should be moved upstairs near the restaurant, as most bars associated with restaurants are not on a separate floor.

“The open floor plan allows overflow into the lobby,” she said. “We see the potential for a large area for bar service.”

Scott said she appreciated the restriction on cover charges, but in terms of outdoor games she said “pool polo and things going on like that could elevate the level of noise” especially if alcohol is being served.

Scott also asked Cape Advisors to not place signage advertising the restaurant on the property and said seating around the pool should be clarified.

Amplified music from a sound system or juke box and what acoustic instruments are allowed were another concern Scott expressed, noting enforcement of these noise related issues are difficult and the fines too low.

Agreeing that Cape Advisors was “trying hard to meet our needs,” Scott said neighbors were concerned there was not enough parking and would like mass gatherings limited on the property.

According to planning board chairman Neil Slevin, the board will revisit the matter and discuss issues like parking at its September 25 meeting.

“I think they are all valid concerns,” agreed board member Gregory Ferraris. “I think we have discussed most of them over the last 18 months.”

Ferraris added everything Cape Advisors is requesting is allowed under the village code.

Sag Harbor Gym Juice Bar Headed to the ZBA

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A juice bar conceived to provide freshly squeezed beverages to Hampton Gym Corp patrons at the Sag Harbor Gym after their workout will have to be reviewed by the Sag Harbor Village Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), according to the village’s building inspector Tim Platt.
At issue, according to a letter Platt filed with the village’s planning board, is whether or not the juice bar constitutes an accessory use or if it is establishing a new principal use within the gym.
Moose Smoothies, a company owned by Carlos Ramirez that has operated within the Hampton Gym Corp’s Southampton branch since last year, has applied to the planning board to turn a 180-square-foot closet with a sink into a small juice bar for Hamptons Gym Corp’s Bay Street branch.
If the juice bar is deemed an accessory use, it falls below the square footage required for a separate business within the village and would have to comply with providing additional parking and wastewater management flow. Platt is asking the ZBA to determine whether or not what Ramirez is proposing is in fact an accessory use.
During Tuesday night’s planning board meeting, environmental planning consultant Rich Warren said he expects the issue will be addressed at the ZBA’s August 21 meeting.
Warren explained that Platt, in reviewing the transcript from last month’s planning board meeting, said he did not hear enough specific information about how the juice bar would only service Hamptons Gym Corp members. This is a major factor if it is to be considered accessory to the gym rather than a separate business operating within the confines of the business.
“He does recognize that gyms have evolved to serve these kinds of things,” added Warren.
“I view it no different from a Coke machine or a water fountain,” added Warren. “When people are done using the gym, this is an additional service they can provide.”
However, Warren agreed with Platt that if the company plans to offer the beverages to outside parties it would then be a new use within the business.
Planning Board member Larry Perrine noted that Moose Smoothies outlet at the Southampton Hamptons Gym Corp location is a larger business catering both to gym members and those not using the gym.
“They need to present with clarity to the ZBA exactly what will be proposed,” agreed Warren.
Restaurant Questioned by Resident
A proposal for a restaurant at Barons Cove Inn on West Water Street was questioned by a neighboring resident who feared the specter of the former Rocco’s nightclub could rear its head at the proposed eatery.
During a public hearing on Tuesday, Howard Street resident Mia Grosjean inspected plans for the 87-seat restaurant, which is allowed as an accessory use under the village code but has been reviewed at length by the planning board over the last year.
KBR Associates, which owns Barons Cove Inn with Cape Advisors managing the property, has proposed to build an accessory restaurant with 87 seats, including 18 outdoor seats in season, as well as an exterior concession stand and a retail store within the lobby of the inn.
While stalled through this winter, the application has been in front of the planning board for more than a year.
Speaking to Grosjean’s concerns, planning board member Gregory Ferraris noted the board has worked over the last nine months to ensure there are voluntary covenants in place to ensure the restaurant does not morph into a nightclub.
“Even though we are handcuffed in limiting what they can do they have agreed to voluntary conditions,” said Ferraris.
Those conditions include prohibiting bottle service of alcohol, limiting the number of seats in the bar area, agreeing to stop serving alcohol at 1 a.m. and not charging cover fees for entry to the bar area after dinner service.
“We don’t want a nightclub scene there,” said Curtis Bagshaw, a principal with Cape Advisors.
The firm has long touted the Barons Cove Inn redesign as an effort to create a family friendly resort close to the heart of Sag Harbor.
“Our intention is to run a resort hotel in keeping with the intentions of this district,” said Bagshaw.
The board expects to accept lead agency status on the project under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) at its August 28 meeting. From there, it must determine whether or not the addition of these services would pose a negative impact to the environment or not.
First Chickens Approved
Lastly, Mare Dianora was approved to host five chickens on her Grand Street property after meeting all of the requirements laid out in a new village law allowing residents to keep poultry.  She was the first resident approved in the law she helped create.

Bulova Drops a Condo

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What were once 65 luxury condominiums are now 64.

Citing changing market conditions as well as the architecture of the former Bulova Watchcase Factory, on Tuesday night Cape Advisors project manager David Kronman received approval from the Sag Harbor Planning Board to revise the site plan for an approved 65 luxury condominiums at the historic site. The units will be reconfigured in a way that will reduce the overall size of the project by one apartment.

In 2008, Cape Advisors was granted approval by the village to restore the Watchcase Factory and re-develop the property into condominiums with underground parking, outdoor gardens, a pool and eight townhouses along Church and Sage streets. This fall, after battling for financing since it earned its approval, Cape Advisors in partnership with Deutsche Bank broke ground with hopes to finish the project by the fall of 2013.

On Tuesday night, Kronman said as his firm has continued to study the architecture of the factory building and kept an eye on ideal floor plans from a real estate perspective, instead of seeking 49 units in the Watchcase Factory and 16 in the townhouses they had reconfigured the plan.

The changes involve making a corner townhouse — at Church and Sage streets —two-condominiums instead of one. Kronman said units inside the factory building were combined, making 47 condominiums there and 17 in the townhouses.

The project will maintain the 130 planned parking spaces it aims to create in the garage and on the street, said Kronman and will not seek to alter the $2.5 million it is required to funnel into the Sag Harbor Community Housing Trust Fund.

While dormant since last fall, plans to add a restaurant at Baron’s Cove Inn were revived on Tuesday night with developers coming back to the table for approval by the village planning board.

KBR Associates — the owners of the property — and Cape Advisors, which will manage what has been conceived as a new family-friendly resort destination, have already earned approval from the village’s Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board (ARB) to revamp the existing inn. Now they hope to also add a restaurant as one of the property’s amenities.

At issue during the planning board’s review last year was ensuring a bar area would not be able to morph into a nightclub, similar to Rocco’s, a now defunct club that existed at a neighboring parcel much to the ire of residents.

On Tuesday night, board member Greg Ferraris reiterated the planning board’s desire to see comprehensive recommendations by KBR and Cape Advisors on how it could ensure an eight seat bar with a neighboring lobby area would not become that nightmare for Sag Harbor residents.

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.

Cape Advisors spokesman Curtis Sachs said that while under state law all restaurants in Sag Harbor are allowed to serve alcohol until 4 a.m., he would be willing to place a restriction on the Baron’s Cove Inn bar that would prohibit service after midnight. Bottle service, outside of beer and wine, added Sachs, could also be barred as well as cover charges — the standard calling cards of a nightclub.

“We don’t want to be Rocco’s,” said Sachs. “And want to stay as far away from that as we can.”

He added a new lighting plan has been submitted for the property that is Dark Skies compliant.

Village attorney Denise Schoen said that while the planning board could accept the offer of an alcohol curfew as a matter of good faith on the part of KBR and Cape Advisors and could include language in its approval,  that language could be struck down, as the village has no right to supersede the authority of the State Liquor Authority (SLA).

According to Sag Harbor Village planning consultant Rich Warren, the plans for the restaurant still have to undergo environmental review. The planning board will consider whether or not to take a lead role in that review at its next meeting on June 26.

Lastly, the planning board approved plans by Rich Kresberg to expand Provisions Natural Foods Market & Organic Café into the former Style Bar on Bay Street.

Breaking Ground at Bulova

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Heller_Bulova Watchcase Factory Renovation 12-22-11_7980_LR

The former Bulova Watchcase Factory is one of the largest buildings in Sag Harbor, and an intrinsic part of village history. For over 20 years now, boarded up and empty — save for trespassers wielding cans of spray paint — the building that was once the economic center of Sag Harbor has sat shrouded with many village residents and businesses wondering when it would finally be given new life.

That time has come.
Heller_Bulova Watchcase Factory Renovation 11-28-11_5924_LRCape Advisors, Inc., a Manhattan and New Jersey-based real estate development, investment and management firm founded by Curtis Bashaw and Craig Wood, has broken ground on what is easily the largest redevelopment project in Sag Harbor Village history.

The firm’s project involves restoring and rehabilitating the former watchcase factory into 49 residential apartments. A 112-car underground parking facility will be etched out of the 2.29-acre parcel, which will also be redeveloped with seven new townhouses along Church and Sage streets, containing a total of 16 residential units. The firm also has plans for a landscaped interior courtyard and several private outdoor gardens. The entire property will be re-landscaped with native shrubs and trees as well as flowering and ornamental plantings.

A recreation center is also a part of the design, and will include an indoor pool and fitness room, as well as other amenities.
Heller_Bulova Watchcase Factory Renovation 11-15-11_4886_LRWhile from the outside, the former watchcase factory can be an imposing structure, on the inside the building is warm, arched windows allowing sunlight to fill the space. Solid timbers of southern yellow pine frame the 100,000 square-foot masonry structure, which surrounds a courtyard area allowing for even more natural light in each of the 49-units planned for the former factory building.

According to Arthur Blee, the director of design and construction for Cape Advisors, there are roughly 1,000 windows in the watchcase factory, and the units have been laid out in a fashion that allows the design to take advantage of natural light on all sides, as well as architectural features that already exist within the building.

One two-bedroom unit on the second story contains a total of 25 windows alone. A fourth story octagonal penthouse unit is wall-to-wall windows, and will offer unprecedented views of downtown Sag Harbor and the waterfront.

Heller_Bulova Watchcase Factory Renovation 11-15-11_4967_LR

There are vaults, Wood pointed out, that were originally used to hold the watchcase factory’s precious metals. Precious in their own right and clad in pristine granite, these vaults will be incorporated into some of the apartments as bathroom or kitchen spaces. In fact, noted Blee, these architectural details, like a fan of timbers on the ceiling of a second story corner within the factory building, will allow each unit to have its own character and design. While that presents challenges from a construction standpoint, project manager David Kronman noted that from an aesthetic point of view, it is ideal in its own way.

Blee, walking along a second story corridor, added that historically having this much natural light was likely critical to the factory’s operation, but that despite being over a century old, it translates well in 21st Century design.

“It is almost modern in that way,” said Blee. “It’s a simple aesthetic.”

While businessmen, Blee and Wood are obviously passionate about the project, and in particular the ability they have to reuse as much of the existing factory building as possible. Damaged and partially collapsed additions to the building have already demolished, but will be rebuilt. According to Blee, construction crews are saving and cleaning any reusable bricks — many printed with the word “Nassau” showing their origins on Long Island. Those bricks, along with others that match their color and patina, will be reused in construction.

Inside the factory building, Wood pointed out a section of timber and brick wall space that had been blasted with walnuts to clean them of age and restore them to their original splendor.

This is part of the firm’s commitment to incorporate environmentally sustainable, green practices in the construction. In addition to reusing as many building materials as possible, a green roof is planned for the building using low lying vegetation that sustains itself. The roof will also provide a landscaped area that residents of the watchcase factory will be able to access, while enjoying 360-degree views of Sag Harbor Village and beyond, while the re-development itself will reduce the amount of impervious surfaces on the property by almost half.

Cogeneration electrical systems, water saving devices and even solar panels to heat the indoor pool are also being considered as energy saving features.

An original fireplace will also be restored and will be the centerpiece in a grand lobby that will also feature what Blee thinks was an old steam driver, recovered from the factory building. The crew is saving many artifacts with the hopes of reusing them as design details throughout the building.

This kind of work is not new to Cape Advisors, which has completed a number of historic restorations for adaptive re-use in Cape May, New Jersey, including Congress Hall, which was originally built in 1816. Redesigned into a resort, including a restaurant, Congress Hall is one of many historic development projects the firm has completed in Cape May. Locally, Cape Advisors is also handling the renovation of the Baron’s Cove Inn into a resort, although the property is owned by another entity, and most recently has been reported to be contract to purchase The Chequit Inn on Shelter Island.

While this week Kronman did not comment on the firm’s purchase of The Chequit Inn, he did speak in an interview last week about the company’s commitment to communities like Sag Harbor.

“I think as a company we love the classic American resort town and the sense of history they have,” said Kronman. “Not everything is new and we love Sag Harbor’s Main Street. Cape May is different, but very similar in its own way. It developed as America’s first seaside resort. One of our hotels there, Congress Hall, was developed out of an 1878 version of the building, but it was originally built in 1816.”

“We think Sag Harbor is the best village on the East End of Long Island and is classic American, so we do find a lot of similarities there,” he continued.

According to Wood, Cape Advisors hopes to have the restoration and reconstruction of the watchcase factory completed by December of 2013, if not sooner.

While construction has begun, it has mostly entailed demolition of the existing, dilapidated outbuildings. Excavation of approximately 30,000 cubic yards of soil for the regrading of the property and the creation of the underground parking will occur this winter and be finished by Memorial Day. The firm will also shore the property line to stabilize the site, which Kronman said will begin in the next month and must be completed before any mass excavation starts.

During this period, according to plans filed with the village planning board, an average of 15-to-20 10-wheeled dump trucks will leave the site daily to handle excavation and will typically leave the site by 1 p.m.

Three routes will be used by trucks to minimize the impact on any one neighborhood, according to plans filed with the village. Arriving trucks will come down County Road 39 and use Noyac Road to Long Beach Road to Route 114 to access the site at its Division Street construction entrance. Leaving the trucks will take one of two routes – one southbound on Route 114 and through Wainscott to connect with Route 27 in East Hampton. The other will take trucks from Route 114 to Long Beach Road to Noyac Road to Brick Kiln Road to Scuttle Hole and out onto Montauk Highway.

Sediment controls, to prevent any soil from leaving the site, as well as dust and odor controls and a community air quality monitoring program will be implemented during the excavation and throughout construction.

This winter and spring, during the heaviest part of excavation, is when the project will generate the most of its truck traffic, according to plans filed with the village’s planning board.

After years of remediation work, the property has also been taken off the state’s list of Superfund sites, reclassified as a Class 4 site, meaning it no longer is a hazard or public threat.

While the excavation is occurring, the factory building will also have its masonry restored, said Kronman. Construction crews will begin re-pointing bricks in the next few weeks with scaffolding planned for the entirety of the factory building, he said. Restoration of the interior will begin at the same time, he said.

Once excavation nears the depths needed for the garage, the concrete floor and foundation will be poured. That, Kronman added, will hopefully be completed before the summer.

Once a concrete roof has been poured for the parking garage, the seven townhouses and recreation building will be constructed. According Blee, they are viewing the construction of each townhouse, all created in different architectural styles, as the framing of an individual house.

Meanwhile, the roof will be replaced on the factory building. Once the entirety of the factory building is restored, new windows will be installed, and framing, sheet rock and finishes will begin on the interior. The last step in the project is to complete landscaping throughout the site.

“In any restoration project this large, there will be construction challenges, but these are the types of projects Cape Advisors is well versed in and we have been successful, so I think we have a good understanding of what a project like this takes,” said Kronman.

“Another major challenge will be that this is the largest project the village has ever seen or has ever taken place and we will be balancing the concerns of the community, which we want to be sensitive too, while understanding getting this project completed as soon as possible is better for everyone.”