Jack Bernstein, Esq., Walter Imperatore of Renaissance Properties with Oyster Bay Chamber of Commerce Vice President Paige Dawson of Laffey Associates, the company now selling Renaissance Properties in Oyster Bay.
The Oyster Bay Chamber of Commerce March Business After Hours was hosted by Walter Imperatore, senior vice president of Renaissance Property Associates, (the company that manages Island Properties sites) in the clubhouse of Mariner's Walk on Wednesday, March 25. The event was well-attended as people, chamber members and tenants of RP, were interested to see the interior of the meeting room and gym for Mariner's Walk. The association meeting room is a one-story building with clerestory windows on top, creating a dramatic and yet inviting interior.
Mr. Imperatore had set up a PowerPoint presentation, and couches and chairs were in place for guests to view what the company has been doing in the hamlet over the past few years. Mr. Imperatore was introduced to guests by OBCC Vice President Paige Dawson of Laffey Associates, the real estate firm that is now handling sales for Reniassance Properties.
Mr. Imperatore said a lot has happened in the 70-plus properties owned by RP. They have done 40 restorations and a new construction project, the HSBC bank, as well. "We have spent millions," he said.
They have over 100 tenants, including new businesses in town, the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum and DiSalvo Interiors. "We are also retaining current businesses one way or another in this economic climate," he said.
He showed a picture of the walkway between West Main Street and the Oyster Bay Water District on Audrey Avenue that was created by Island Properties.
During the Oyster Festival they sponsored the Match Races. Island Properties now owns the Oyster Bay Marine Center site as well as the business and they hope to see the racing opportunities grow.
Mr. Imperatore said there has been a great deal of work done on the interior of buildings in the hamlet, something that doesn't show at first glance. He then showed slides he classified as transformations of Oyster Bay, "Then and Now."
Ben's Garden replaced the façade and interior of what had been the location of the Oyster Bay Frame Shop. [They have moved successfully to East Main Street.]
He showed a slide of 20 Audrey Avenue, the home of the Theodore Roosevelt Association and Active Motion, which has taken the second floor suite.
Gone Dancing is now located in 10 Audrey Avenue. The building had been a bright spot on Audrey Avenue but when the restoration was compared to the original building, the brick lower half and arched windows made a better presentation. The Village Laundromat on East Main Street gave way for Subway with its wood and glass French doors and green awning.
Thirty East Main Street was Obies, an Internet Café that was a venture into marketing for students at Oyster Bay High School and which now is "What's Cooking," a new cooking school for children from 2 to 14. The new owner is Lynne Gerard, a cooking teacher with 12 years experience.
The building at 78 South Street has been renovated and now has a blue façade. Mr. Imperatore then showed a slide of 46 Hamilton Avenue. "It was depressing inside," he said. "We didn't kick them out. We didn't double the rent. It is still moderately priced housing in the hamlet." They did fix up the interior and the façade of the building adding a stoop, brass lights and shutters.
A slide of the Gateway area showed the Not Just Art building and what became its companion buiding in the streetscape: For Pets Only. The three original stores became two bright and architecturally related buildings.
The house at 249 South Street had a great deal of work done inside and out and had an addition built on the north side. It had been a doctor's office, and was renovated for the law firm Siegel, Fenchel and Peddy which moved to Garden City. The building is now the headquarters of ABI Research, Tim Archdeacon's company.
The house at 255 South Street had been called "The Pink House" because it was painted pink. It now houses Di Salvo Interiors. Mr. Imperatore said you never know what will happen in a restoration. In this case, "We found a lot of nice things below a couple of layers of material [architectural details] and now it is a great place."
He showed the Getty gas station that became the site for HSBC bank. The next slide was of the original Hallock Chevrolet site - now Mariner's Walk.
Mr. Imperatore said the small house known as 233 South Street was going to be a small renovation job when Renaissance Properties received a phone call from Save the Jewel By the Bay. Mr. Imperatore said at first he wondered "Now what's going to happen, but it was a great conversation about the building and it changed our plans 99 percent. It is one of the oldest buildings here in Oyster Bay and in the town."
He said, "Another big renovation going on is at 55 South Street, across from Fiddleheads. That is a marine store and has been renovated."
Uwe's, at 73 South Street, was next. "What the town needs is businesses and this site will be business on the first floor and apartments above and it has parking."
Renaissance Properties also owns the house at 39-41 East Main Street, next to DBSC. The outside residence still doesn't look as what they would like, but he said, "You can't tell how much is invested in that house. Sometimes there is a lot of bones to fix before you get to the outside."
Another site is the NAPA building at 169 South Street. They are considering its next step - at the present time they don't know how far they will go with a renovation of the site.
Mr. Imperatore said Hamilton Avenue was at one time where the wealthy people in the community lived. They are currently renovating number 37 Hamilton Avenue, which was a sea captain's house. There are 10-plus rooms in what had become a boarding house.
The next slide that popped up was for the corporate headquarters of Island Properties and the Lighthouse Project of Charles Wang and Charles Rexler. He invited people to attend a community outreach session held at the LI Marriott the next day, on March 26 at 7 p.m. [In a television broadcast Mr. Wang said the Town of Hempstead was delaying the project, but said, "Don't give up on us." He predicted a great outcome for the partners' multi-use development plans for the area."]
Mariner's Walk was the final subject, fitting, because as he finished, Mr. Imperatore invited the guests to take a tour of the town houses. Mr. Imperatore said there are 28 houses and about 13 are occupied with a few in the oven. "We are 50 percent occupied and most happened in the last six months as people learned about it - that it is a very nice place. We try to go to that extra step," he said. In answer to a question, he said there are some rentals in the group, but most are sales.
More new information came about the upcoming beverage store on South Street next to Fiddleheads that is re-opening when it gets its liquor license from NYS. It should open by April 6 or 7, said Mr. Imperatore. Fiddleheads is being cosmetically renovated and will soon be open for lunch and Dave is still the chef, he said. Hopefully, they will be expanding into the adjacent store for a space that will have a larger bar and music. The present bar area at Fiddleheads will become a grill room.
"Will it be able to hold 30 to 40 chamber of commerce members for a meeting?" asked Larry Nathan. The answer was yes.
The three owners of the new Fiddleheads include Bernie DeBello of Walk Street, formerly known as the Newport Grill in Garden City. Bert Donley is the musician of the group. He is a past president of the Garden City Chamber of Commerce and Kiwanis. He said the music tips go to the Interfaith Nutrition Network and the excess food will go to Island Harvest. Mike Ventre, the third member of the Windsor Commercial Real Estate, had to leave early in the evening: He is a soccer coach.
Mr. Imperatore had the last word, "Our commitment is to quality," as he invited guests to have a tour of their work at Mariner's Walk.