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Southampton proposes buying motel for developer to turn into luxury condos

Vera Chinese

Southampton Town officials plan to buy an overcrowded Hampton Bays motel, raze the structure and ready it for development as luxury condos, a first-of-its-kind proposal for the town.

The owners of the Bel-Aire Cove Motel on Shinnecock Road are willing to sell the property to Southampton Town for $1,060,000, Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said.

Under the proposal, Southampton would secure all necessary construction permits — including for an advanced on-site wastewater treatment system because the property is along a canal leading to Shinnecock Bay — as well as architectural drawings, creating a project for a willing developer.

“We would get the permits and then auction the property off to the highest bidder,” Schneiderman said. “It’s a good location for a resort type of development.”

The town will work with Hampton Bays residents and businesses to determine the best use for the property, Schneiderman said, but he envisions eight two-floor luxury waterfront units. The town’s community development agency would lead the process.

Hampton Bays Civic Association president Janice Landis said her group would prefer to see the land preserved, but redeveloping it as luxury condos would be goal number two.

“It’s so much better than what exists there now,” she said of the town’s plan.

Several builders have looked at the property, but uncertainty in obtaining permits has scared them off from making an investment, Schneiderman said. Unlike preserving the land, the town’s proposal would keep the property on the tax rolls, supporting the local school district, he said.

Schneiderman said he expects the town to come out even or make a small profit from the plan. Any profits would go into a fund to create similar proposals, he said.

“If it works, it could be a model,” Schneiderman said.

The waterfront motel, which operates as a year-round residence, has been a nuisance for Hampton Bays residents. During a code enforcement raid in October 2017, the property was found to have several units with bedbugs, electrical violations, missing smoke detectors, overcrowding and property maintenance issues, among other complaints. It was listed in a notice of claim filed on behalf of the Hampton Bays school district against the town earlier this year for allegedly failing to enforce its zoning code.

Hampton Bays school board president Kevin Springer called the town's proposal a “great resolution” for the property.

“A lot of those children are living in basic squalor over there,” he said. “The place is disgusting.”

A public hearing on the matter is set for 6 p.m. Sept. 25 at Southampton Town Hall, 116 Hampton Rd., Southampton.