The creation of a town square in Riverhead took a major step forward Tuesday as officials closed on a deal to purchase three East Main Street buildings that will be knocked down to make space for the square.
The town officially closed on the purchase of 117, 121 and 127 East Main St., giving Riverhead sufficient space to create a town square connecting Main Street to the riverfront along the Peconic River, Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said in a statement.
"Riverhead Town Square will positively transform out downtown into a thriving regional destination that offers an attractive venue for people to live, work and play here in Riverhead. The primary goal of creating Riverhead Town Square is to reorient the pedestrian focus from the traditional Main Street to the Peconic Riverwalk," Aguiar said.
Dawn Thomas, Riverhead’s Community Development Agency director, said Tuesday the town was continuing the town square’s design; the preliminary design was unveiled two weeks ago after meetings with stakeholders and three forums with the public.
Town officials aim to start the process of demolishing the buildings by July once the town does an engineering survey of the structures — which is necessary to determine the buildings’ condition in order to take safety precautions for construction workers and prevent any premature collapse of the structures. Officials will then put the demolition project out for public bidding, according to Thomas.
The cost for acquiring and demolishing the buildings is estimated to be $5.5 million, with the town having already obtained $1.8 million in grants. That money includes an $800,000 grant from Empire State Development, $612,000 in Suffolk County water quality funding and $400,000 from Suffolk County Jump Start, which awards capital funds to communities to foster and enhance planning and progress of regionally significant developments in downtown areas. The total cost for the town square is yet to be determined, Thomas said.
Sheldon Gordon, president of Riverhead Enterprises, which owns the properties where the buildings stand, said in a statement the group was "pleased to close on the sale of three East Main St. properties to the Town of Riverhead."
"We are very excited to see how the town square develops and very happy to be part of the process," Gordon said.