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May 17, 2018 3:51 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Nonprofits Interested In Former Hampton Bays Chamber Of Commerce Building

The former site of the Hampton Bays Chamber of Commerce. FILE PHOTO
May 21, 2018 11:16 AM

The white in-ground, double-post sign frame at 140 West Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays has sat empty since October, when the hamlet’s chamber of commerce vacated the building.

But with any luck, and a bit of handiwork, one of two interested nonprofits that have recently shown interest in the two-story building will soon move in, according to Southampton Town Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone.

He declined to identify the two groups vying for the space, explaining that there were no contracts in place as of yet for the 1,356-square-foot building, which is owned by the town.

Similar to the chamber’s arrangement with the town, the potential new tenants would likely be responsible for a minimal rental fee, as well as maintenance and upkeep costs, including landscaping, Mr. Zappone said.

However, the building, which dates back to 1971, has more pressing issues than who’s cutting the lawn. Last year, Southampton Town officials assessed the maintenance and structural needs of the building and found several concerning factors that would need to be addressed prior to anyone moving in.

The deputy supervisor said this week that the building’s second floor was “compromised,” noting that while it was not at risk of collapsing, he was concerned about its ability to bear weight.

The building’s heating, air conditioning, electrical wiring, and septic system, all of which date back to the construction of the building, would also need to be replaced. Mr. Zappone could not provide an estimate for the work, adding that the town would be willing to negotiate the costs with any potential new tenants.

“We’d like to see the building put to good use for the community, but we don't want people to go in there blindly,” Mr. Zappone said.

Dot Capuano, the Hampton Bays Chamber of Commerce president, said this week that the hamlet’s business promotion group spent an average of $7,000 per year on air conditioning and heating costs alone, when the group rented the building. “We were spending a lot of money on utilities when that money could be used much better to do events to promote Hampton Bays,” she said.

She added that prior to the chamber moving to its satellite location in the Southampton Town Senior Center on Ponquogue Avenue, the town had roped off the upstairs to the Montauk Highway building, citing its structural damage.

Still, Ms. Capuano said that with a little care, the building could be a nice home for a new group.

“If they renovate it, it would be perfect,” Ms. Capuano said. “It’s a great location.”

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If I'm not mistaken, that building dates back WAY before 1971. As a child growing up in HB (born in '61), I remember going to that building where one of the town's family doctors was located...who remembers Dr. Saffer and his nurse Mrs. Fields? I got stiches there, my ears pieced by Dr Saffer, along with all of my well check ups!
By hamptonbaysnative (3), hampton bays on May 20, 18 7:45 PM
2 members liked this comment
Hi Hamptonbaysnative, thank you for your interest! As far as when the building was built, public records say 1971, however, I will look into this. Thank you!
By ValGordon (3), Middle Island on May 22, 18 2:18 PM
It was not built in 1971. It may have been renovated in 1971 but absolutely not built then. I thought it was landmarked by the town when they purchased it. Someone at the town should know.
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on May 24, 18 8:52 PM
You are correct the building is quite old .It also housed Dr Marans office as well as Doug Penny ,attorney .
By afj (24), East Quogue on May 21, 18 7:00 AM
So prime real estate on Main Street that looks like a ghost town next to two Historic Buildings that are never open to the public will now be used to store boxes for some not for profit like the Hampton Bays civic Association who indicated that they were interested in it. Brilliant ideas by the Town and Chamber.
By G.A.Lombardi (575), Hampton Bays on May 21, 18 1:53 PM
The Civic Association has expressed interested on and off for years. It was my understanding that they could not use the building since it is a Town owned property and they are supposed to be a 'watch dog' group of the Town. This could be bad information or the sentiment could have changed. I just know that it isn't a new thought rather an old one that never went anywhere. Perhaps you know why?
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on May 21, 18 9:59 PM
If the property is owned by Southampton town it should be repaired by the owner not the renter. Most non-profits have no ability or funds to replace/rebuild the second floor and pay all of the operating expenses as well. That's why they're called "NON" profit. In any case it would be a great spot for a welcome to Hampton Bays facility with all of the information of what to do and see once Main Street is redesigned, Canoe Place Inn is open, the fishing pier at the bridge and our beautiful Ponquogue ...more
By newresident (7), Hampton Bays on May 21, 18 7:45 PM
Ironically, it sounds like you are describing a fully functioning Chamber of Commerce. Where is the Chamber office in the Senior Center and who knows about it? This building should have been maintained at the expense of the Town if the Town Administration truly cared about the economic recovery of Main Street. It is the perfect home for a fully functioning Chamber of Commerce/Visitors Bureau.
By G.A.Lombardi (575), Hampton Bays on May 21, 18 9:06 PM
1 member liked this comment
I concur, the building was used in the 1960's by the two Hampton Bays Doctors Saffer and Maran.
By HBNative (15), Hampton Bays on Jun 1, 18 2:16 PM
There is a saying that when you have one foot in the past and one in the future you urinate on today. Let's start living the reality of Main Street today folks and not worry so much about who used that building 60 years ago.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Jun 6, 18 10:36 AM