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Huntington downtown hotel developers seek to expand project's size

The proposal to turn the old Huntington Town Hall into a boutique hotel would grow to 80 rooms from the original plan's 55 rooms.

The old Huntington Town Hall on Main Street,

The old Huntington Town Hall on Main Street, as seen on Wednesday. A developer is proposing to turn the 109-year-old structure into an 80-room hotel. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Plans to turn the old Huntington Town Hall on the corner of Main Street and Stewart Avenue into a boutique hotel could now have 80 rooms up from 55.

Town officials have scheduled a public hearing to consider extending the Historic Building Overlay District to an adjacent parcel of land east of the old Town Hall site. Such overlay district designation gives owners of historic commercial properties and large residential estates the flexibility to explore additional uses for the property than  what's allowed by the underlying zoning. The flexibility is designed to help preserve historic structures but also put them to use.

Property owner Emerson J. Dobbs in 2013 gained town planning board approval to build a 55-room boutique hotel on the Town Hall site. Those plans call for the existing two-and-a-half-floor structure to be preserved as the hotel’s lobby, lounge and meeting rooms, with a new wing constructed for the guest rooms. The old Town Hall, which dates to 1910 and features a four-dial tower clock, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

But Dobbs never received the necessary building permits before a five-year deadline expired. The planning board in February 2018 extended conditional approval for the plan until March 2023.

In an email Friday, Emerson J. Dobbs III said he is in contract to sell the building to Holtsville-based Huntington Village Hotel Partners. The company applied to the town to extend the overlay district for a parcel of land east of the approved site. The additional parcel allows the hotel to expand to 80 rooms, town officials said. Department of state corporation documents list Melville-based Buzzell, Blanda, and Visconti LLP as a contact for Huntington Village Hotel Partners. Attempts to contact the company were unsuccessful.

Under the proposal, the addition would house the guest rooms while the original building would contain the lobby, offices and common areas, town officials said. The addition would be constructed over an existing parking lot. Valet parking would be utilized to maximize parking capacity, town officials said.

“The Huntington Village Hotel will enhance Huntington’s status as a destination by adding convenience and comfort while sparking renewed interest in of one of our historic landmarks, Old Town Hall,” Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci, who sponsored the public hearing resolution, said in an email.

Old Town Hall ceased operation as municipal offices in 1979.

Town Historian Robert Hughes says renovation of the site is a project historians have been looking forward to for many years.

“It’s concerning that it’s taken so long, so anything that will help get it back on track is a welcome development,” he said.

The expanded plan requires the removal of a wood building behind the old Town Hall.

”Unfortunately, this latest proposal means the loss of the old police annex,” Hughes said. “But in the greater scheme of things, it’s more important that old Town Hall be saved.”

The public hearing is set for June 18 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, 100 Main St.

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