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Riverside revitalization targets old diner, vacant canoe shop

The exterior of a former diner at 20

The exterior of a former diner at 20 Riverleigh Ave., in Riverside, Dec. 18, 2017. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Southampton Town officials and property owners are working together to redevelop two vacant buildings in Riverside into a medical office complex and an outdoor recreational equipment store.

Officials said they have applied for $1 million in state funding to help demolish and rebuild the sites of an abandoned diner on Riverleigh Avenue and an old canoe shop on Peconic Avenue.

Town planning director David Wilcox said the “blighted” buildings are “highly visible” along the Route 24 roundabout adjacent to downtown Riverhead, and are in the area targeted for redevelopment in the Riverside Revitalization Action Plan.

The two projects are likely to be first implemented under the plan, he said, “and as such will bring the community to the ‘tipping point’ of economic viability needed for a true renaissance to occur in Riverside,” Wilcox said in an email.

The diner, which has been deteriorating for years, now is covered with dulling pink paint and brown-stained windows. Under the proposal by 20 Riverleigh Corp., the 5,000-square-foot diner would be replaced by a 12,000-square-foot building with 10,000 square feet of medical offices and four affordable apartments on the second floor.

Builder Paul Pawlowski, who owns the corporation, could not be reached for comment. The property was purchased for $1.05 million earlier this year, according to a listing with Coldwell Banker Homes.

The former Peconic Paddler store of 1,500 square feet is to be replaced with a 10,000-square-foot building for the sale and rental of outdoor recreational equipment, as well as a restaurant. Pathways and landscaping would be incorporated into the adjoining Grangebel Park.

Fredette Svendsen LLC, a company owned by Thomas Fredette, purchased the property in the spring. He could not be reached for comment.

Town officials submitted an application for $1 million in grants from the Round 5 Restore NY Communities Initiative, which provides municipalities with financial assistance for property revitalization projects.

If accepted for the grants, each Riverside project would receive $500,000, said Kyle Collins, the town’s planning and development administrator. Applicants could hear back in early 2018, a Restore NY representative said.

Riverside resident Sandy Adams said the redevelopment projects are “desperately needed” to attract businesses and a larger tax base to the area that has “gone downhill.”

“It’s really going to be nice,” Adams, 75, said. “Nice is not a word you would use for our area for many years.”

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