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Potter Project in Question as Sag Harbor Parcels Hit Market

Fri, 02/09/2024 - 14:25
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Three of the parcels that make up Adam Potter’s 11 Bridge Street Limited Liability Company in Sag Harbor — 23 Bridge Street, 12 Rose Street, and 8 Rose Street — hit the real estate market last week, raising the question of whether his plan for a large, mixed-use building there is dead.

Mr. Potter could not be reached for comment, but Hal Zwick and Jeff Sztorc, the Compass Real Estate listing agents for the properties, confirmed they were on the market, and Sag Harbor Mayor Tom Gardella said Friday that Mr. Potter had told him he would be listing them. “He didn’t discuss his plans exactly. He’s considering doing something on a smaller scale with the other lots,” the mayor said.

“They can be purchased individually or all three as an assemblage. The purchaser can come up with their own plan,” Mr. Zwick said.

The three buildings are “contributing” structures in the Sag Harbor Village Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is comprised of 870 buildings. Demolishing them would have gone against the village code, a point raised at a Dec. 20 meeting of the Sag Harbor Village Planning Board, where Mr. Potter’s most recent set of plans was aired.

“I’m relieved to see we won’t have a battle about taking down houses that should never be taken down,” said Nancy Achenbach, president of the Sag Harbor Historical Society. “I’m just distressed they’re so expensive, because they’d be ideal for affordable housing.” Affordable housing was also on the mind of Bob Plumb, a Sag Harbor trustee, when he texted, “This might represent an opportunity for multi-family use of these structures.” The three buildings are in a high priority area for the village’s sewer expansion project.

Tiffany Scarlato, an attorney representing Mr. Potter, declined to comment last week other than to say, “I know there’s new plans afoot, but I’m not privy to the everyday goings-on.”

“We hope that the relisting of these properties shows he recognized that the plan to remove historic structures was unworkable,” the advocacy group Save Sag Harbor said in a statement. “We trust that prospective buyers of the sites will understand the importance of preserving the historic district.”

Mr. Potter purchased all three sites in the first half of 2021. The property at 8 Rose Street sold for $1.5 million at that time and is now offered for just under $2.1 million; he bought 12 Rose Street for $1.85 million and is now listing it for just under $2.4 million. The 23 Bridge Street property went for $3.75 million in 2021 and is now on the market for $4.25 million.

The building at 11 Bridge Street, formerly occupied by Dodds and Eder, is not on the market. Mr. Zwick said Mr. Potter has a lessee for the next two years “while he evaluates.”

“Nothing is set in stone,” said Mr. Sztorc, which could serve as a summary of the way Mr. Potter has operated in the village since first becoming the chairman and founder of Friends of the Bay Street Theater in 2020, a nonprofit created to find the theater a permanent home. In October of that year, through the nonprofit, he purchased the Water Street Shops at 22 Long Island Avenue, for just under $13.1 million. In December 2020, he registered his 11 Bridge Street L.L.C., where he would ultimately collect his properties.

In April 2021, Friends of Bay Street unveiled plans for a 299-seat theater at 22 Long Island Avenue, in the process booting 7-Eleven, which had operated at the location for over 30 years. The following summer, only a day after the village changed the zoning code to allow for mixed-use buildings in the office district, Mr. Potter announced his plans to use his 11 Bridge Street L.L.C. properties to build a $70 million, 79-unit housing structure, with over 34,000 square feet of retail space.

Mr. Potter denied that his project was linked to Bay Street. One reason he gave for the huge amount of retail space in his plans was that if the theater ultimately displaced businesses, both at 22 Long Island Avenue and at 2 Main Street, also owned by Mr. Potter and home to the K-Pasa Restaurant and other businesses that would need to relocate.

The 11 Bridge Street L.L.C. plans were not warmly welcomed, despite their promise of some affordable housing. In October 2022, Save Sag Harbor and a group of village residents sued the village, arguing that the law it passed that allowed for such a large-scale development didn’t undergo the proper environmental vetting per the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act. Then, in December, Conifer Realty, the developer Mr. Potter was working with, and the Smith & Henzy Advisory Group, who were to help fund the project with tax credits, pulled out of the project.

A month later, in January 2023, Friends of Bay Street announced that 22 Long Island Avenue was for sale. In April, Save Sag Harbor won its lawsuit against the village, and the State Supreme Court blocked the village’s affordable housing law. Despite the setbacks, in July, the New York State Public Service Commission sided with Mr. Potter, awarding him a lease on the so-called gas-ball parking lot, which he planned to use as parking for his development.

By the end of last summer, he revealed pared back plans for his project, cutting both the housing units and retail space. The new plans included a 299-seat theater in a building referred to as “the Complex,” but Mr. Potter denied it had anything to do with the Bay Street Theater. The price estimate for the project decreased to $30 million. By October, the plans changed again, the theater was nixed, and the Dodds and Eder building was proposed to be rebuilt. In December, he presented those plans to the Sag Harbor Planning Board.

This story has been updated since it was first published.

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