Developer Jay Kopf, of Remsenburg says he passed the old Speonk hospital grounds in Speonk, known as The Castle, on a near daily basis heading to the railroad station. The thought occurred to him time and time again that someone ought to redevelop the site that sits at 41 North Phillips.
"It's a dangerous eye sore," said Kopf, pointing out the debilitated buildings and graffiti. "One day, kids are going to set fire to it and then we are going to have some real trouble on our hands."
Then, one day, he decided enough was enough and with no sign on the property indicating who it belonged to, he went to the the Town of Southampton's Assessor's Office to find out who ones it.
Soon enough, Kopf made a deal to purchase the land.
At that same time, he said he was approached by the Southampton Housing Authority to do a work force housing project on the same site.
He thought a work-force housing project on the property would be perfect, especially since it sits next the railroad, near a bus station, shopping and a main thoroughfare.
"It's exactly where you want greater density housing," he said.
Kopf said he had a plan in his head, but revamped it after talks with the area Community Advisory Committee, shopkeepers and residents.
With feedback from the community, Kopf said he went back to the drawing board and came up with a plan to build a scaled-back 68-unit, apartment complex filled with only one-bedroom apartments.
The model, he said would be perfect for college graduates, who are just starting out and want to live in the area where they grew up. The apartments would also be conducive to seniors, he said, who are looking to trade down.
He assured: "This is not low-income housing. This is going to be classy. My goal is to upgrade the community."
And with just single-bedroom apartments, Kopf said there were would be no affect on the area's school system.
Kopf said the plans also call for the project to be built using the latest technology for water treatment and solar energy - He is also looking into installing a geothermal system.
Aside from housing on the property, Kopf said will design the site with woodland in the back to buffer the residential development to the rear of the property.
He said the residents requested the buffer at a meeting and also asked that his development not be connected to theirs with a roadway. Kopf agreed.
In addition, Kopf said, he wants to donate a portion of the front of the property as a village green, similar to the green in Westhampton Beach.
"I'd like to put in a gazebo, flagpole, and benches. Make it something a community can relate to and use it as a way to knit the community together with summer concerts and art exhibits" he said.
Kopf says before he submits the plans to the town, he wants to make sure all of his I's are dotted and T's crossed, especially because to bring the project to fruition, he will need approval to rezone the front-half of the property for residential use — The property is currently zoned commercial.
"The existing zoning permits a commercial building that would allow for 136 parking spots that as of right could stand 35 feet tall and be set back a mere ten feet from the street," said Kopf. "This would be completely out of character with the neighborhood."
Not to mention, he said that commercial, in these economic times, would just not be feasible.
Kopf said if anyone has questions, they can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. or post a comment below.
Kopf also recently appeared on the to talk about his project. That episode is attached to this post.