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Northport hotel plans: focusing on LI charm with an old New England look

The 24-room hotel and restaurant proposal, approved by the village Board of Architectural and Historial Review, next goes before the village planning board for review.

Kevin O'Neill, co-owner of the John W. Engeman

Kevin O'Neill, co-owner of the John W. Engeman Theater, outside 225 Main St. in Northport on Friday. O'Neill plans to turn the property into a hotel. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

Plans for the proposed hotel in downtown Northport look like a postcard from an old New England coast, with its crisp lines, white shingles and dark green shutters.

That’s an intentional choice to keep the hotel in context with its location, said Kevin O’Neill, owner of the hotel site with partner Richard Dolce. The two also own the John W. Engeman Theater across Main Street from the hotel site.

“I love Northport because it has a unique look to it, an old-world design that they haven’t let get contemporized,” O’Neill said. “It’s a cool place and I hope it stays that way as long as possible.”

The plans for the hotel at 225 Main St. passed another hurdle Oct. 3 when the Northport Village Board of Architectural and Historical Review approved the application 4-0-2, with chairman Gary Blake and board member Dan Sheehan abstaining from the vote. Board member Richard Krulik was absent from the vote.

The application for the 24-room hotel and restaurant next goes before the village planning board for review.

The plans were designed by Hoffman Grayson Architects of Huntington. Some of the inspiration for the traditional aesthetic for comes from two waterfront inns in Sag Harbor and Southport, Connecticut, O’Neill said.

But the site presents unique challenges as it sits on a steep hill. As with the existing building, the hotel will be built into the hill and rise no higher than three floors.

O’Neill said the hotel will be able to serve visitors year-round and expand Northport’s tourism season.

“A lot of these harbor towns, you close the shade after Labor Day weekend and you open it back up Memorial Day weekend,” O’Neill said. “But that’s not Northport.”

He envisioned year-round theatergoers and wedding visitors having an upscale hotel to stay in after spending time in the village.

The hotel’s construction costs will run somewhere between $9 to $11 million, O’Neill said, adding he wants to avoid disrupting downtown traffic during the high season so demolition work on the old building has been postponed until the winter.

Some residents have raised concerns about the hotel exacerbating parking woes in the congested downtown area. O’Neill said the hotel’s parking lots will actually improve parking in the village. “Northport has 601 parking spots, and we’re going to have the ability to have 150 more off street spots,” he said. “It’s a tremendous dividend.”

A hotel can be a multiplier of profit for local businesses and retail, said Kristen Jarnagin, president and chief executive for Discover Long Island tourism bureau.

“For every hundred dollars someone spends on a hotel, they spend about $212 in the community on retail and dining and shopping and entertainment and attractions,” she said, adding that last year Suffolk County generated more than $350 million in local and state tax revenue from tourism.

“In the tourism industry we were told regularly that we have a lack of [hotel] inventory,” Jarnagin said. “So a new property — especially one that fits the charm and character of a local community — would be something that we would welcome and would certainly feel confident would benefit the local community and the economy.”

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