Tag Archive | "Elizabeth Dow"

New Solar Technology to Be Used on Historic, Sag Harbor Church

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By Michael Pintauro

Elizabeth Dow received approval last week from the Sag Harbor Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board (ARB) to install photovoltaic shingles on the roof of the former Sag Harbor United Methodist Church.

This means that one of the older buildings in Sag Harbor Village is about to install one of the newest kinds of solar technology.

On Thursday, June 14 the ARB agreed to pre-approve the installation of the panels. This is a landmark decision for the ARB, not only because of the new technology Dow is introducing in Sag Harbor with the approval, but also because the church is a landmarked historic structure in the village.

The former Sag Harbor United Methodist Church at 48 Madison has stood at its location for 176 years and recently became the home of Elizabeth Dow’s Mixed Media firm. Dow purchased the property in 2008 and will operate her textile and wall covering design workshop, studio, office and retail location out of the historic church.

As an historic landmark, the structure is subject to the standards and guidelines of the National Parks Service, which has regulations in place to ensure any changes to a landmarked structure protect the building’s historic integrity. On Thursday, the ARB pre-approved Dow’s application for panels because it is a technology that can fit into a historic aesthetic.

The panels, which will be installed by Green Logic Energy, are not traditional solar panels, but are cutting edge photovoltaic shingles. These shingles are designed and built by Dow Chemical Company and are similar in size and thickness to traditional asphalt shingles. They are more expensive and less efficient than solar panels, but their appearance has led to them being approved for installation in historic districts throughout the country.

Currently, the Dow Powerhouse solar shingle is only available in California, Colorado and Texas. According to Elizabeth Dow, the corporation’s agreement to allow the use of its shingles on the old Methodist Church is the first such use of the shingles on a property in New York State.

ARB Chairman Cee Scott Brown says the board is presented with about four applications a month for the installation of solar panels within the historic district, but due to federal guidelines the ARB is forced to deny any applications that are visible from the street.

“We don’t really have a choice,” he said. “The guidelines are clear”.

Brown added, however, that he is sympathetic towards homeowners who are looking in the direction of sustainability.

“I think it’s important for buildings to be more energy efficient,” he said, adding he hopes the use of this kind of solar panel will open the door for other solar projects in the historic district.

Joe Sullivan, the Green Logic Energy contractor hired for the installation, said he often runs into issues with historic districts regarding the use of solar panels and respects the importance of historic preservation.

Sullivan represented another client in the Sag Harbor historic district on Thursday night — Curtis Ravanal, who applied for the installation of solar panels on his Howard Street residence, and was approved by the board for only one small section. The rest of the application was denied because the board believed the appearance of solar panels would be offensive amongst the historic building materials.

Sullivan said he hopes to eventually use the Dow Powerhouse shingles for Rayanal’s home if his client approves the purchase of the solar shingles.

Elizabeth Dow, who has no connection with Dow Chemical, is set to stand before the Architectural Review Board at their next meeting, Monday, June 25, with a sample of the Dow Powerhouse Shingle for inspection and final approval.

That meeting will begin at 5 p.m.

Sen Restaurant Eyes Expansion

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Plans to expand the kitchen and lounge area at Sen restaurant on Main Street in Sag Harbor were put on hold during Tuesday night’s Sag Harbor Planning Board meeting. This came as project manager Dean Golden said restaurant co-owner Jeff Resnick also plans to propose an addition to the apartments located on the second floor.

According to the application filed with the Sag Harbor Village Building Department, for the kitchen expansion, Sen restaurant owners hope to construct a one-story, 550-square-foot addition on the rear of the existing building. The construction is proposed over an area that currently holds a storage shed, propane tank, cellar entry and stairway leading to the second floor.

The expansion aims to enlarge a kitchen area that Golden said was so small it was “torturous” to operate in and allow for the reconfiguration of the bar area and bathrooms in Sen.

Golden said instead of moving forward with that application, he would like to amend it to include the addition on the second-story apartments, which will not expand the number of units, but just make them larger.

Sag Harbor Village environmental planning consultant Rich Warren suggested that Golden furnish the board with a complete analysis of how much parking Sen has grandfathered with the village and if the expansion would have any impact on parking. Golden said he believed the building had enough pre-existing parking to move forward with the plans, but would provide the planning board with that documentation.

The amended application could be seen as early as the planning board’s February 28 meeting.

In other news, this summer Sag Harbor Village will have a new frozen yogurt shop at 2 Main Street, in the same building that hosts La Superica, most commonly referred to by locals as Fort Apache.

On Tuesday night, the planning board also waived site plan approval of Danny Cheng’s plans to open a retail store for the sale of frozen yogurt and fresh toppings in a space most recently occupied by a clothing store. The board was able to waive site plan approval as Cheng already received approval from the Suffolk County Health Department, and the change in use does not increase the amount of parking or septic needs and will not expand the building. Outdoor furniture retailer Dodds & Eder was also granted a waiver from site plan review for the construction of an exterior deck for similar reasons.

Lastly, the public hearing on Elizabeth Dow’s proposal to move her wall covering business, design studio and retail space to the former Sag Harbor United Methodist Church building on Madison Street was closed. The proposal will also be before the Sag Harbor Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board (ARB) tonight, Thursday, February 9 and before the Sag Harbor Village Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday, February 14.

A More Public Space

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On Monday, textile artist and businesswoman Elizabeth Dow sealed the deal, and is now the official owner of the former Sag Harbor Methodist Church.

We are happy to be among the first to congratulate her and officially welcome her to the neighborhood.

Dow, a textile and wall covering designer whose work is in the White House, has big plans for the building, which will house her business, a studio, a retail space, internship program and an apartment.

Last December, the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees officially changed the zoning of the property from residential to village business district in order to allow for Dow’s conversion. The trustees were very careful in their language and in order to protect neighbors, put specific covenants in place to ensure the property will never become a more intensive commercial use should it change hands.

The closing this week represents yet another major step forward in Dow’s long journey to make her vision a reality. But some neighbors were less than thrilled by the idea of Dow taking over the space and would rather have seen it become a private residence.

But we disagree.

It’s not everyday that we advocate for the conversion of a historic church turn into the headquarters for a business, but in this case, we feel it is an appropriate and in fact, ideal use for the space for many reasons.

First of all, Dow is well suited to the task. On the outside, Dow plans to get rid of the vinyl siding — installed as a cost saving measure years ago — and replace it with wood, which the building was originally clad in. She is also considering placing a sign in the parking area detailing the structure’s history. With a background in 18th century restoration and an interest in history, as she looks to the future, she also plans to honor the church’s past inside by creating custom wallpaper for the lobby area using newspaper articles, records and photos of the building. Though we don’t yet know much about other plans for the interior, we suspect Dow’s sensitivity to the property’s history will continue to be a guiding force.

While as a home, any buyer that could have afforded it would surely have done a spectacular renovation on the building. But it would have also been a private endeavor. The community’s relationship with the structure would have ended with the view from the sidewalk, and, depending on the sensitivity of the owner, it’s possible the interior could have been so thoroughly altered that no resemblance to the building’s original use would remain.

The Methodist Church building is truly a beauty and we feel that given her passion for history, Dow’s vision will preserve the structure in a way that not only serves her professionally, but also reflects the building’s hallowed past. And because it will be a business — not a private home — community members will still be able to have access to and a relationship with the beloved old building and its occupants, rather than just be resigned to ogling it from behind the picket fence.

Dow Closes on Former Church Property

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The last two weeks have been a whirlwind for Elizabeth Dow, but as of Monday morning at 11 a.m. at least one of the artist and businesswoman’s dreams came true. According to Dow’s attorney, Tiffany Scarlato at 11 a.m. on Monday Dow closed on the property that houses the former Sag Harbor United Methodist Church with former Southampton Town Councilman Dennis Suskind at his attorney’s Southampton office.

The moment was over a year in the making, and for many residents of Sag Harbor, the end of a saga that began when the United Methodist Church congregation first sold the building to Suskind in 2008 under the financial strain of maintaining a historic church.

“This is the first step,” said Dow on Tuesday afternoon. “The light bill is in my name so hear we go.”

The closing of the $2.1 million sale comes just over a week after entrepreneur Sloan Schaffer announced he had signed a contract with Suskind to purchase the former church property. Unlike Dow, who will move her wall-covering studio and retail shop into the existing building, Schaffer said he hoped to convert the former church into his residence.

On Monday, Schaffer declined to comment on the closing of the sale.

Also on Monday, Suskind said Schaffer was “a back-up buyer” should Dow be unable to go through with the purchase of the Madison Street property.

“It is a common practice,” he added.

Dow has held the contract on the property since last fall. She has long planned to move Elizabeth Dow Mixed Media, a textile and wall covering design firm and studio into the building, which will also hold retail space, the company’s celebrated internship program and an apartment.

Quickly, Dow found community and government support for her plans, which village board members praised for the semi-public use of the treasured historic building, as well as the educational component it offers through her internship program.

Dow, who fittingly has a background in the restoration of 18th century buildings, has also said she will celebrate the history of the church. Her proposal changes almost nothing on the exterior of the building, except that it will once again be clad in wood rather than vinyl siding and will have an additional means of egress.

Dow also hopes to celebrate the church’s history in the lobby of her building, which she has explored cladding with custom made wallpaper depicting historic pictures of the former church building, newspaper articles and historic records. Dow has also proposed to commemorate the history of the building through a sign between the parking area and the entryway that details the history of the building since it was first moved from High Street.

The property is technically in a residential district in the village, however, last December, the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees signed off on changing the zoning of the property to Village Business to allow Dow to operate her business in the space.

When the village board adopted the change in zoning, it did place covenant restrictions that will run with the land. The covenants protect the property from ever being developed into a convenience store, bar or tavern, laundromat, dry cleaning business, movie or live theatre, gym, yacht sales center or any kind of food service business.

That change in use won’t become official until Dow secures final approval from the village planning board, which is in the throes of reviewing her application along with the village’s historic preservation and architectural review board and the Suffolk County Department of Health Services.

She will be in front of the Sag Harbor Village Planning Board, next Tuesday, November 22, at 5:30 p.m.

“I have a sense she really has a passion for this building,” said Suskind on Monday afternoon. “I have seen her describe it as ‘her life,’ so I think it is in good hands. Obviously, what I have always wanted is for the building to be in good hands and with someone who will care for it.”

“I wish her all the best,” he added. “I will be one of the first people in line when she opens.”

“It feels good,” said Dow shortly after the closing. “And I can’t wait to get started on this project.”

Dow said she is currently focused on the permit process and finishing up designs for the interior of the church building.

“I am in a little shock right now,” she admitted. “I almost can’t believe it is real yet.”


New Contract Signed for Old Church

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Just last week, artist and businesswoman Elizabeth Dow was before the Sag Harbor Village Planning Board presenting her plans to re-develop the former home of the Sag Harbor United Methodist Church into her place of business.

However, this week entrepreneur Sloan Schaffer announced that he has signed a contract with property owner Dennis Suskind to purchase the historic church with plans to restore the building and make it a home for his family.

If Schaffer closes on the property, it will be the second proposal where the church is conceived to become a single-family home since Suskind purchased the building in 2008. At the time the former Southampton Town councilman and retired partner at Goldman Sachs & Co. said he hoped to make the church a home for his own family. However, after running into budgetary concerns over the re-design, Suskind re-listed the property with his real estate agent Scott Strough of Strough Real Estate.

It then sat on the market for over two years until Dow contracted to buy the former church in the fall of 2010. Dow proposed to move her company — Elizabeth Dow Mixed Media, a textile and wall covering design firm and studio — to Sag Harbor, where in addition to her studio and retail space she would also host her internship program.

She has yet to close on the property, and on Monday declined comment on the news of Schaffer’s contract with Suskind.

On Monday, Schaffer — an architect who calls himself an entrepreneur with a diverse resume in business, much focused into the art world — said he has had his eye on the former church since it was listed by Suskind in 2008.

While Schaffer had toured the building, he said his focus turned to other aspects of life until this summer when he reached out to Strough again and said he would like to revisit the project.

“I have an incredible vision for what I think this building could become as a residence,” said Schaffer, who signed the contract with Suskind two weeks ago.

Schaffer said he does not want to alter the building’s exterior aesthetic, but rather preserve it. If his project moves forward, Schaffer said he plans to remove the existing aluminum siding cladding the historic church and replace it with wood. The exterior of the building would otherwise be fully restored, with the property landscaped.

“We want to do this because we really love Sag Harbor and feel a kindred connection to the village, which is one of the reasons we want to preserve this building,” said Schaffer.

On the interior, while the church would be made into a residence, Schaffer said he wants to preserve as much of the original character and spaces within the building as possible. Currently, he envisions a three-bedroom residence, and said he has the financial means to begin the project immediately, and finish it quickly.

Schaffer has already reached out to several Sag Harbor architects, he said, and has one in mind for the project although he declined to name the architect until he closes on the property. Schaffer added that he plans to work with a team of locals in developing the property, most coming directly from Sag Harbor Village.

Educated as an architect, Schaffer said now he has his hands in multitude of businesses, including real estate, and is heavily involved in the arts, both as a collector and gallery owner. In 2008, according to the gallery’s website, he opened the 101/exhibit space in Miami.

The gallery is dedicated to showing, and preserving, the artwork of “modern masters and emerging artists” by bringing their work to collectors by displaying them in a 5,000 square-foot space in the heart of Miami’s Design District.

Currently, according to Art Fix Daily, the gallery is preparing to feature “Undertow,” new art by Los Angeles based expressionist figurative painter Jason Shawn Alexander. That show opens in December.

Despite having business dealings in real estate, Schaffer did stress that he does intend to live in the church himself, and is not looking at the property as an investment. For the last six years, he said, he has been spending time in the village and has grown to love the area.

“I want to do what I think is best for the church and the community at large,” said Schaffer, who believes the church should remain a residentially zoned. “We are prepared to come in with almost an open budget and fix that church. I think this is an incredible opportunity for my family and I, but more importantly for the history of the church and the village. That building needs to be properly maintained.”

“It will be a pristine and shining example of the history of the building,” said Schaffer of his vision. “And we will maintain it as an important landmark in the village.”

Dow Proposal Draws Neighbor Concern

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Elizabeth Dow announced plans last fall to buy the historic Madison Street building that once housed the former Sag Harbor United Methodist Church congregation.

Informally, her plans to transform the interior of the church into her wall covering workshop, interior design studio and retail space was largely embraced by village officials, who agreed to change the zoning on the property from residential to village business district in December of 2010.

At public hearings regarding that change in zoning, not a single resident opposed the action or Dow’s plans for the former church space.

Until now, that is.

Almost a year later, as Dow begins the formal environmental review of her proposal with the Sag Harbor Village Planning Board, a small group of neighbors have emerged asking the planning board to ensure the historic neighborhood they reside in is protected should Dow eventually sell it to another developer.

On Tuesday night, Dow laid out her plans for the building, which includes the creation two offices within the former church, as well as an interior design studio and retail space for her company, Elizabeth Dow Mixed Media. The firm has its wall coverings displayed at The Smithsonian and in The White House, and offers one of the country’s most sought after internship programs.

Dow also hopes to construct an addition to the rear of the church to accommodate a 1,427 square-foot accessory apartment. Landscaping, creating a private courtyard, picnic table and a new means of egress at the rear of the church is also proposed.

The application will also require approval by the village’s zoning board of appeals as it does not meet setbacks and has already received favorable reviews from the village historic preservation and architectural review board.

Dow has already earned approval from the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees for the change in zoning on the property, which has remained dormant since former Southampton Town Councilman Dennis Suskind purchased the property in 2008.

When the village board adopted the change in zoning, it did place covenant restrictions that will run with the land. The covenants protect the property from ever being developed into a convenience store, bar or tavern, laundromat, dry cleaning business, movie or live theatre, gym, yacht sales center or any kind of food service business.

According to neighbor William Monahan that may not go far enough to protect the neighborhood from future development.

“This is a commercial use in the center of what is now a residential district,” said Monahan.

The former church building sat on the very edge of the village business district until its zoning was changed, but does have residences that sit on the remaining three sides of the property.

Monahan also charged that a raised terrace on the south side of the building would overlook a neighbor’s outdoor shower.

While Dow’s business might not put a strain on the neighborhood, Monahan urged the board to consider future businesses that might be developed on the property.

Neighbor Fred Mayer said his concerns lay with the landscape plan. He wanted to be assured any landscaping would not encroach on his property. Mayer said he would also like to see the landscaping pushed about 10-feet back from the street so he can maintain his view of downtown Sag Harbor.

He also asked the board to ensure any chemicals are properly stored and disposed of, and that lighting is controlled on the property.

Architect Chris Coy noted Mayer’s home dates to 1797 and his own house, also next to the church was built in 1810. Coy said he understood Dow’s business was quiet in nature and said he supported “reasonable development” at the church, but wanted to be assured that the neighborhood was protected from more invasive developments in the future.

Dow said that her studio uses green methods in its wallpaper construction — the main products used are large rolls of paper and low VOC paint.

Dow also offered to personally go over every aspect of the landscaping plan with Mayer, noting it is a plan “in development” and designed by Sam Panton of Terradesign Landscape Design to be kept “as natural as possible.”

In terms of lighting, Dow said the only lighting she was concerned about was in the parking lot, to ensure no one tripped and fell if they were in the lot after hours.

Before she could address Monahan’s concerns, planning board chairman Neil Slevin quieted Dow stating this was not necessarily the forum for her to defend herself. On Wednesday morning, Dow’s attorney Tiffany Scarlato said the change in use was approved with covenants the village put in place to protect the neighborhood.

She added that any change in use would trigger site plan review by the village planning board.

“When we went through this almost a year ago, we did a comprehensive investigation, as did the village, on what would be inappropriate uses in a residential neighborhood,” said Scarlato.

Move Forward With Plans to Tranform Methodist Church

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by Kathryn G. Menu

It has been several months since residents in Sag Harbor have heard word on the progress of plans by Amagansett artist and businesswoman Elizabeth Dow to transform the former United Methodist Church building on Madison Street into a textile studio, design center and showroom.

Until last week, that is.

Dow presented plans for her adaptive re-use of the former church building to the Sag Harbor Village Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board (ARB) last Thursday. According to Dow and her attorney Tiffany Scarlato, pending approval from the village boards, as well as the health department, Dow hopes to begin her construction this fall.

“I am on board and very passionate about the adaptive re-use and overall design of this building,” said Dow in a separate interview on Tuesday. “Working with (architects) Bates Masi + Architects has been fantastic and I think our vision is one. I am waiting for the permits and hopefully construction can happen in November.”

In the fall of 2010, Dow contracted to buy the church building from former Southampton Town councilman Dennis Suskind, who bought it from the church congregation in 2008 with plans to turn the space into his own private residence. After contracting with Suskind, Dow proposed to move her company –Elizabeth Dow Mixed Media , a textile and wall covering design firm and studio – to Sag Harbor, where in addition to her studio and retail space she would also host her internship program.

Community members, as well as Sag Harbor village boards quickly supported the project. Dow’s work is celebrated in the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, as well as The White House where her wall coverings adorn The Oval Office, as well as the bedrooms of President Barack Obama’s daughters, Sasha and Malia.

Village board members also praised the semi-public use of the building under Dow’s proposal, that it had an educational component and that the artist planned to celebrate the church’s history in the lobby of her business, making the loss of an important, historic structure to private hands less painful for some community residents.

In December, the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees even agreed to let the zoning on the property convert from residential to village business for Dow’s project, although that change in use won’t become official until she secures final approval from the village planning board.

For Dow the warm welcome from the village and its residents only adds to her passion for the project.

“I feel like I am coming home and I wasn’t even counting on that when we first started,” she said.

Last Thursday, after presenting an exhaustive amount of research on the adaptive re-use of historic buildings, and in particular churches, across the country, Dow and architect Paul Masi floated their plans for the renovation of the building to the Sag Harbor ARB.

Dow noted adaptive reuse of historic buildings is seen by many as a key factor in modern day conservation. Preserving the historic integrity of a church, in particular, is critical, said Dow. One of the reason’s she was drawn to 48 Madison Street, she said, was because she would not have to drastically alter a building that holds a special place in so many hearts to accomplish what she needed as a businesswoman.

One of her biggest goals is to ensure the construction will guarantee the stable, and long-term use, of the former church building.

Noting that many early churches were not historically painted white, Dow has proposed to remove the existing white, vinyl siding and replace it with cedar, which Masi said would weather into a grey color.

The windows, many of which are covered from the exterior, will also be replaced, and an existing residence at the rear of the building will be renovated to compliment the rest of the building, said Masi.

Dow also proposes to commemorate the history of the building through a sign between the parking area and the entryway that details the history of the building since it was first moved from High Street. She also showed the board wallpaper she had crafted that afternoon, out of historic images and text about the church, which she may paper the building’s lobby with.

“Very cool,” said board chairman Cee Scott Brown.

To achieve a second means of egress, as required by the building department, Masi has proposed a transparent staircase in the rear yard of the building, which will be covered in climbing plants that keep foliage year-round, becoming a part of the overall landscape plan for the lawn adjacent to the building.

That structure is the only aspect of the project that will need a variance from the village’s zoning board. Brown said Scarlato could inform that board that the Sag Harbor ARB stood firmly behind the concept, relieved Dow didn’t propose a fire escape instead.

Sag Harbor resident Sam Patton is designing the landscape for the property.

“We are trying to make it non-architectural and more of a garden piece,” said Masi.

“This is really a great project because it will bring the building back to life,” said Scarlato.

“This is very thoughtful and researched,” said Brown. “I think it is fantastic.”


Artist with Hopes for Former Methodist Church Designs for the Obama White House

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Elizabeth Dow hopes to make her mark in Sag Harbor by turning the former United Methodist Church into a textile studio, design center and showroom. But the Amagansett resident has made headlines in recent weeks for the hand she had in the redesign of the Oval Office at the White House.

The new interior design of the Oval Office was unveiled to members of the media on August 31, the day before the public first saw the buff and beige colored office space during President Barack Obama’s TV address to the nation about the end of combat operations in Iraq.

Christian Little, Charles Ly, Kim Fulmer and Nate Best, artists from Dow’s Amagansett-based wall covering and textile studio, worked collaboratively on the wallpaper for the Oval Office, as well as wallpaper for the White House Solarium, President Obama’s private office and the bedrooms of the Obama children, Malia and Sasha.

On Wednesday, Dow said it was her relationship with interior designer Michael Smith, who helmed the White House redecoration, that led to her company’s inclusion in the endeavor.

The Oval Office wallpaper is based on a design Dow’s studio already had in house — Buff Stripe — although the original had just two-inch stripes. For the Oval Office, the design was changed to encompass three-inch stripes in buff and an almost café au lait color, with the brush strokes emphasized at the request of the client, said Dow.

The wall coverings for the children’s rooms include a custom blush stripe for Sasha’s bedroom and a blue Bombay print for Malia’s quarters. President Obama’s private office is clad in a birch bark custom wall covering, which is also now found on the walls of the Solarium.

“First of all we are relieved the work looks so good, and second we are proud to have worked with Michael Smith,” said Dow who also credits her four artists for creating the designs. “It’s the most well-respected room in the country and now we are permanently archived in American history.”

Dow added that she hopes to expand her ability to reach young artisans on the East End by moving her company Boto Sag Harbor.

“It will give us accessibility,” she said. “Here, we are up in the attic. People are discovering us after six years or so of having our operation here, but I think being in Sag Harbor will give us more of a presence.”

Sag Harbor Planners Warm to Textile Studio at Former Church

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On Tuesday night, members of the Sag Harbor Village Planning Board said they favored Elizabeth Dow’s proposal to convert the former Sag Harbor United Methodist Church on Madison Street into a center for textile design, retail and education, but asked for permission to tour Dow’s Amagansett studio before sending a formal letter of support to the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees.

Dow is in contract to purchase the former church from former Southampton Town councilman Dennis Suskind who bought the building in 2008 from a congregation no longer able to afford the upkeep of the aging, historic structure. However, that sale, for a reported $2.1 million, is contingent on Dow being granted a zone change by the village board of trustees to allow her textile and wall coverings design studio and internship program to be housed in the former church.

Earlier this month, trustees seemed amenable to changing the zoning on the property from residential to village business district, with the understanding that covenants would be negotiated between Dow and village officials to ensure it not become a nightclub or convenience store should she ever sell the church.

If Dow is granted the change in zoning, she will still have to undergo review by the planning board, but earlier this month trustees asked the planning board to weigh in on the general concept before they moved forward.

On Tuesday night, Dow’s attorney Tiffany Scarlato presented the proposal to the planning board. Dow hopes to use the former church in what Scarlato calls “a gentle reuse,” bringing the Elizabeth Dow Studio to Sag Harbor, where the company’s wall coverings and textiles would be produced and sold in a retail interior design center. Dow’s internship program, listed in the top 100 American internships by the Princeton Review, would also take place at the church, which would boast an apartment to accommodate employees or students.

Scarlato believes that the property will be able to accommodate an on-site septic system and will not need additional parking for the change in use.

Dow has already reached out to neighboring property owners, said Scarlato, and received “overwhelmingly positive” responses to the concept.

“Elizabeth wants this to be a community project and is willing to work with the community to alleviate any concerns they might have, as opposed to a private residence where village residents would have very little control over anything that would happen there,” said Scarlato.

Board member Jack Tagliasacchi wondered if textile design involved heavy machinery, which could prove noisy for neighbors, although Scarlato said she believed the design process did not involve heavy machinery.

“Is it possible if a couple of us want to go and see the facility,” asked chairman Neil Slevin, referring to the company’s current home in the Amagansett Applied Arts Building.

“I think that would be very positive,” said board member Gregory Ferraris, who recused himself from making any decisions regarding the application, as he is Dow’s accountant and aided her in pricing out the cost of this particular project.

Scarlato agreed to arrange a visit in the next two weeks.

“A project like this is probably good, not only to maintain the building itself, but also to create activity on that side of the village,” said Tagliasacchi.


In other planning board news, the board scheduled two public hearings for next month. The first is for Edward Burke, Jr.’s proposal to allow office uses in his 39 Division Street building. While the property is zoned residential, since rehabilitating the structure, Burke has created five office spaces within the building, and is seeking to legalize those uses through the village planning board.

In addition to planning board approval, Burke will also need variances from the zoning board of appeals, including for parking.

A public hearing will also be held on a proposed addition at James Giorgio’s 127 Main Street Building, which currently houses Lifestyle. Giorgio hopes to add 740 square-feet to the rear of the existing 810 square-foot building.

The public hearings will be held at the board’s September 28 meeting, which begins with a work session at 5:30 p.m.

Sag Harbor’s Methodist Church Sold Again

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By Kathryn G. Menu


The former United Methodist Church on Madison Street in Sag Harbor is in a solid contract to be sold to Elizabeth Dow, an artist and businesswoman in Amagansett, for just over $2 million according to several sources close to the deal.

On Monday, Dennis Suskind – a former Southampton Town Councilman and Goldman Sachs executive, who purchased the historic church in 2008 for a reported $2.9 million – declined to comment on the sale, deferring any comments to Dow.

Dow did not return calls for comment. Neither did Scott Strough, of Strough Real Estate, Suskind’s exclusive real estate brokerage firm.

While Suskind maintained upon his original purchase of the property that he intended to make the over 170-year-old structure his family residence, after briefly owning the property he placed it back on the market for a reported $3.5 million.

Sag Harbor resident and attorney Linda Mintz expressed interest in converting the property into a 15-unit bed and breakfast, but was deterred by village officials who questioned the number of units Mintz hopes to use on the property as suitable for the residentially zoned location.

According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, even celebrated musician Billy Joel toured the building in hopes of creating a studio space, however, it has remained dormant and for sale since Suskind purchased the property, until now.

While Dow’s plans for the building remain unclear, the artist and businesswoman is the director and Amagansett Applied Arts and the owner of Mixed Media Art Supply, located in Amagansett Square. She is also the founder of Elizabeth Dow Mixed Media, a textiles and wall coverings company.

That company, which was started some 20 years ago out of Dow’s New York City apartment, has blossomed into a firm that creates couture and accessible hand painted textiles and wall coverings, as well as internship opportunities lending an educational front to the company’s roster.

Since 1992, Dow has provided internship opportunities through her company to students and recent college graduates interested in art and design with approximately 20 to 30 students selected each year. The program has been rated as being one of the top 100 American internships by The Princeton Review.

In turn, under Dow’s leadership, Amagansett Applied Arts hosts a variety of comprehensive art classes for the young and old, including writing.

The former United Methodist Church, which the congregation sold due to mounting costs of maintaining the building, is zoned residential, meaning any commercial aspect included in Dow’s plans would require a change of zoning by Sag Harbor Village officials, although as of press time plans had yet to be formally presented to the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees.