Southampton Town will purchase a blighted Hampton Bays motel, raze the structure and ready the property for redevelopment under a controversial plan to help revitalize the hamlet’s tourism economy.
The town board on Tuesday voted 4-1 in favor of purchasing the Bel-Aire Cove Motel — which operates as year-round low-income housing and has been issued multiple code violations — and securing permits for redevelopment as 12 condominium units or a 22-unit boutique hotel.
The board's lone Republican, Councilwoman Christine Scalera, who in December had submitted a dueling proposal to preserve the property as open space but failed to get support from the other board members, voted no.
“It’s going to be an improvement in every possible way,” Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said shortly before the vote. “This is going to be very positive for the community.”
The board also voted 4-1 to adopt the Hampton Bays Waterfront Revitalization Plan, a tool authorized under state Urban Renewal Law that will provide a template to transform other former motels into boutique hotels or seasonal condominiums.
The town will pay $1.06 million to purchase the Shinnecock Road property through a $1.2 million loan from the town’s general fund and repay the money once the property is resold to a developer. The loan will also cover survey, closing and other costs.
Several builders have looked at the property, but uncertainty in obtaining permits has deterred them from making an investment, Schneiderman has said.
The town's plan has been panned by community members at several public hearings on the issue and in a report compiled by the Suffolk County Planning Department, which said the proposed project constituted overdevelopment of the site and the property would be better-suited as a park. Residents have also expressed doubts the plan would be economically viable.
“It is absurd you have not addressed the risks associated with purchasing this property for redevelopment,” Hampton Bays resident Gayle Lombardi told the board shortly before the vote.
If the process drags on, the property may serve as a multipurpose park until a buyer is found, according to the plan.
The fate of the motel's residents is unclear. The town's Housing and Community Development department may assist the tenants in finding new housing, according to the plan.
Jag Jayaswal, whose family owns the property, has said he began renting the motel's 19 rooms by the month about five years ago after the closure of several nearby nightclubs cooled the summer party scene in Hampton Bays. Jayaswal could not be reached for comment Tuesday.