Construction of a long-proposed hotel in downtown Huntington is underway at the site of the old Town Hall building.
Developer George Tsunis said a new building will go up and the original 1910 building on Main Street and Stewart Avenue will be renovated to make way for a Hampton Inn & Suites. An October 2021 opening is expected.
Tsunis said cleanup of the historic building began in early 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and construction of the new building commenced in September.
The $24 million project calls for turning the former Town Hall into the hotel’s lobby, breakfast room and gym and using the new building to house the 80 guest rooms.
"I feel very blessed to be able to do this project," Tsunis said. "I’m able to invest and provide jobs for the community."
Plans for the hotel were first proposed in 2013 for the old Town Hall. The town planning board that year gave approval to build a 55-room boutique hotel on the site. But by 2018, the building permits expired and the planning board voted to extend conditional approval for the plan until March 2023.
Huntington-based Huntington Village Hotel Partners purchased the property and applied to the town to extend the historic building overlay district designation for a parcel of land east of the approved site to expand to 80 rooms. Tsunis is managing partner of Huntington Village Hotel Partners.
That type of designation gives owners of historic commercial properties and large residential estates the flexibility to explore additional uses for the property other than what’s allowed by the underlying zoning. The flexibility is designed to help preserve historic structures but also put them to use.
The old Town Hall features a four-dial tower clock that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, town officials said.
"This is exciting progress for Huntington’s local economy because the accommodations provided by this boutique hotel will make Long Island’s biggest downtown more convenient to tourists while complementing the shopping, entertainment, eateries and cultural attractions nearby," said Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci.
The project has received $2.3 million in property tax breaks over 15 years from the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency. The project also received a sales tax exemption from the IDA of up to $825,814 on the purchase of construction materials and up to $90,881 off the mortgage recording tax.
Tsunis said the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for many, and will have long-term impact on the hotel, travel and hospitality industry. In August he sought, and received, additional help from the IDA, citing economic fallout from the pandemic. In February, a package of tax breaks was preliminarily approved.
"But everything is going to be OK in time," Tsunis said. "Were hoping by the time we open in 11 months we’re on our way from recovering from the pandemic."