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  • Writer's pictureAndre Watson

Hamptons mayor issues veiled threat to store’s landlord

Would push for affordable housing if Southampton market isn’t reopened

By: TRD Staff

Southampton Village mayor Jesse Warren with 20 North Sea Road (Loopnet, Getty)

The closure of a beloved Southampton store prompted the village’s mayor to threaten the landlord with affordable housing.

Mayor Jesse Warren proposed rezoning the property at 120 North Sea Road in Southampton, Dan’s Papers reported. The property was home to Schmidt’s Market for 43 years, but it recently closed because the rent got too high, the business owner told News 12.

The landlord is ready to put the property up for sale. That prompted the mayor to urge the owner in a letter to instead renew Schmidt’s lease. The landlord didn’t respond, so Warren considered other options for the site.

“If the owner of the property is unable to continue leasing to the store, the village has an obligation to address the need for workforce housing in Southampton by rezoning this parcel as part of a larger plan of action to focus on the need for workforce housing,” Warren said, referring to a master plan passed last month.

The ultimatum doesn’t appear to have moved the landlord, as Schmidt’s Market has not provided updates on its Facebook page, which hasn’t had any posts since the store announced its closure last week. While there is outcry about the market closure, it’s not clear if Warren’s plan for apartments would be welcomed by locals.

Another question is whether the mayor opened the village up for a lawsuit by floating that he would seek to rezone the property if it’s owner doesn’t renew the store’s lease.

The landlord could not be reached for comment. The mayor, who cannot unilaterally rezone, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Workforce housing is a term for homes affordable to wage earners, especially those who work in the community. Affordable housing is a major concern in the Hamptons, where real estate is so expensive that people who service it and staff local businesses cannot afford to live there. The flow of workers driving in from points west each morning is known as the “trade parade.

Residents of both the North Fork and South Fork will vote next month on whether to adopt a 0.5 percent real estate transfer tax to fund affordable housing. The surcharge is modeled after a 2 percent tax earmarked for the Community Preservation Fund.

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