Tag Archive | "Jim Giorgio"

Sag Harbor ARB Tables Application for New Windows at In Home

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By Kathryn G. Menu

The owners of In Home on Main Street are reconsidering an appeal they made to the Sag Harbor Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board (ARB) to allow them to replace three second-story windows with aluminum clad wood windows similar to those recently erected in the former Bulova Watchcase Factory.

Owner John Scocco said he would talk to his partner, David Brogna, about the application after a prolonged conversation with the ARB last week. During that discussion it was revealed the board does not believe it formally signed off on the aluminum clad windows at the former watchcase factory, and similar windows approved at 125 Main Street were an oversight by the board.

Last Thursday, Scocco came back before the board for a second time to discuss the appeal, which looks to overturn a previous decision denying the use of aluminum clad wood windows in a second story window replacement project.

Scocco argued the very same windows have been used in the luxury condominium project at the former Bulova Watchcase Factory — a historic building in the historic district. The same windows have also been used at 125 Main Street, a renovated historic building, although last month the ARB met with building owner Jim Giorgio in an effort to get him to replace those windows with wood windows. That discussion was left open ended after Giorgio requested he be allowed to replace four second story windows with two picture windows, a concept not viewed favorably by the ARB.

“Dave and I care a lot about Sag Harbor,” said Scocco. “We care about the historic integrity of the village.”

Scocco said it was only when they realized aluminum clad windows were approved for not one, but two historic district projects, that he and Brogna decided to revisit the issue in light of the cost of maintenance and eventual replacement of wood windows.

“Truly, four years ago there were a lot of details that were left very open ended and vague and that were going to be addressed moving forward,” said Brown of the ARB’s Bulova approval. “I have no recollection of us saying this is the window.”

Tom Horn, Sr., the only other member of the board sitting during the Bulova review, agreed, noting he would bet nothing could be found in the minutes showing the ARB signed off on those windows, or any synthetic materials for siding. Synthetic roof material was discussed by the ARB for the townhouses in that development project.

“125 Main was a complete and total lapse,” added Brown, noting it could have been as simple as the ARB not dictating that the windows in that building would need to be replaced in kind in its approval.

“I think we have an issue here,” said Brown. “We have approved a major project with 1,000 windows and another project … what grounds do we have to say no to three, second story windows.”

“We can appeal to you and say we don’t want you to do that and set any more precedents, but I don’t feel we can say, ‘No, you can’t do that’,” added Brown.

Village attorney Denise Schoen disagreed.

“If the approvals for the Bulova Watchcase and 125 Main were truly oversights or you lacked sufficient details to understand what you are approving, it doesn’t set a negative precedent you have to follow for the next 100 years,” said Schoen. “When we talk about precedent, we talk about when an applicant comes in, you examine what they are presenting and say, ‘that is appropriate for Main Street. That is appropriate for the historic district.’”

“I understand what the applicant is saying and I feel for both of you, but I just want to make the distinction it is not a legal precedent that has been set,” she continued.

If challenged, a court could state it did not believe the ARB did not intend to allow synthetic windows. Schoen said she would comb through the Bulova file.

“So I understand where you are coming from and I felt bad denying you because this is something that slipped through the cracks,” said board member Penni Ludwig.

If it were not for these two oversights, added Ludwig, Scocco and Brogna would have replaced their windows with wood.

“You can make a stink and fight it and I understand your feeling,” said Ludwig, “but I am trying to look at it that this is a mistake and it will snowball and we won’t have a leg to stand on.”

Board member Christine Patrick wondered if the ARB approved Scocco and Brogna’s appeal would they then be setting a precedent for the historic district as they would knowingly be agreeing to allow aluminum clad windows in downtown Sag Harbor.

Schoen said yes.

“I am worried about that,” said Patrick.

Scocco said he respected the ARB and wanted to talk to Brogna about the application. He added some historic districts do allow these kinds of windows.

“That is where I am stuck because I don’t necessarily believe it compromises the integrity but I understand it is not what you want,” he said.

Brown noted the ARB has been open to some synthetics in the historic district. The ARB was the first in the nation to approve the use of photovoltaic shingles in a now moot application for the former Sag Harbor United Methodist Church building on Madison Street.

“This board is trying to be open and go with the flow,” said Brown. “Windows are the soul of the house.”

Schoen added that because the village code asks the board not to allow synthetic materials, any decision that does so could theoretically be challenged as it would be a decision that goes against village law.

“I respect everyone here,” said Scocco, asking the board to table the application while he talks to his partner.

In other ARB news, the board sent a letter to the village boards including the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees asking for a zoning code amendment to change the front yard setback in Sag Harbor to 20 feet, down from 30 feet.

The idea, said Brown, is 20 feet is a setback that is in keeping with homes in the village.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it appears they were heard.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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