The Hampton Business District industrial park in Westhampton Beach presents an opportunity to create year-round jobs on a large scale for the South Fork, officials and developers said at a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday.
Rechler Equity Partners of Plainview marked the start of construction at Francis S. Gabreski Airport, where the firm plans to put up nine buildings -- including medical offices, a hotel and restaurant -- totaling 440,000 square feet.
Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said the industrial park "is the kind of opportunity that we need here" to develop an economy that extends beyond tourism.
"We are where people come to relax. That's how the world thinks of us," Throne-Holst said. "But we're also a community of hardworking people wanting to make a living."
Gregg Rechler, a managing partner of Rechler Equity, said the park would create more than 1,100 jobs. He said the firm has secured its first lease for space at the park, but he declined to say who the tenant would be.
The company in 2005 gained the zoning changes needed for 50 acres of vacant Suffolk County-owned land at the airport and signed a 40-year lease with the county in 2009.
Rechler, who manages the firm with his cousin Mitchell Rechler, said they wanted to build a large-scale industrial park in the East End because "there is a demand and there's a lack of product."
He also called the project a "very unique opportunity" because there are few if any undeveloped parcels left on the South Fork that are zoned for projects of this scale and have sewerage.
Rechler said the first phase of the project, a 60,000-square-foot office building, should be complete by the end of the year and the entire park should be built in three to five years. It will include a 145-room hotel.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said the development would help create year-round jobs and help the area retain young people.
"The East End is known for many different things, but we also want to make sure that there are great jobs here," he said.