Saltaire trustees are considering condemning the village's sole commercial property, after the market took a massive hit in superstorm Sandy and was put up for sale.
Frank Whitney, 88, who has owned the Saltaire Market for 25 years, told villagers at a May 27 meeting that post-storm insurance money wouldn't cover the damage and he planned to sell to a proprietor who would keep it as it was.
But he said last week, after officials announced plans to look at using eminent domain to acquire the nine-parcel site, that he plans to keep it and restore what had been a grocery, deli, liquor store and ice cream parlor with housing upstairs.
"Our express goal . . . is to re-establish a structure that is safe, handsome and allows us to provide our services in a more efficient and effective way," he told the board.
The mart did not open for the summer, and its absence has depressed rentals, according to homeowners and local real estate agents.
When village officials continued the public hearing on whether to condemn the site on Friday, several residents spoke in favor of municipal ownership.
"If a private purchaser obtained the property, we open our doors to many results I don't think the village would really want," said homeowner Seth Lesser. "Having control would minimize that."
Mayor Robert Cox said Friday that residents could submit comments on the potential condemnation for another week. The board will then have 30 days to vote on condemning the property, which, if approved, would lead to the village's purchasing the store through negotiations or through court proceedings, Cox said.