Developer Kevin O’Neill does not sugarcoat the former state of the property he purchased at the corner Main Street and Woodside Avenue in Northport.
Nor does he downplay its value, or its future as an asset to the village.
“I bought the ugliest building in Northport,” O’Neill said. “And we’re replacing it with what I think, before long, is gonna be considered a beautiful landmark in Northport”
O’Neill, alongside partner Richard Dolce, is constructing the Northport Hotel at 225 Main St in Northport, adjacent to the Golden China restaurant. The three story structure will feature 24 hotel rooms on the second and third stories, leaving room for an Italian steakhouse on the ground level.
The duo also owns the John W Engeman Theater, a few hundred feet to the east of their new construction site.
O’Neill said it is the success of this venture, along with what he felt was a void in Northport’s downtown, that inspired their second.
“The theater has become regional,” he said. “People travel from pretty far away to come see our shows. Northport is such a charming little harbor town that has the appeal and access from the harbor. You can get off you boat down the block, grab a burger, catch a show.
“But one thing we felt all along that has been missing is land-lodging.”
Talking with patrons, the developer said visitors to his theater or the village often said had to venture closer to the LIE or Route 110 to find suitable hotels.
As for the planned steakhouse, he noted its ADA compatibility, which is perfect for older theater-goers.
“If someone wants to get dropped off for a Sunday matinee, they can come and have lunch at our hotel across the block, go to our easy access ramp, set up and it’ll take them right into the restaurant,” O’Neill said. “The restaurant is going to have a lot of space to it so you can move in a wheelchair.”
Before the hotel could be built, O’Neill had to demolish an amalgamation of residential and business construction that was pieced together over the years. About 100 years ago, the developer said, the plot of land boasted “a beautiful old Dutch colonial set back about 100 feet from Main St.”
Decades later, a building comprising office spaces was erected around the old building.
“You had this rectangle masonry structure with a dilapidated Dutch colonial sticking out of the roof of it,” O’Neill said of the since-demolished structure.
Once the old Frankenstructure was torn down and construction of the new building began, O’Neill said the COVID-19 pandemic halted the hotel’s planning process for several months. Even after restrictions were lifted, the developers held out on heading back to the job site.
“It was different territory at that time,” O’Neill said. “I wanted to get a better handle on the economic fallout and assess when I should recommence work.”
Construction started up again last fall and has been going steadily since.
Now, O’Neill said he expects to complete construction by the first quarter of next year.
While construction of the Northport Hotel has been underway, so has a lawsuit between 225 Northport LLC and the Village of Northport.
The developers are suing the village over what they are arguing is an unlawful calculation of the building permit fee O’Neill said he paid under protest so the project could move forward.
O’Neill paid $87,130, but claims the charge should have been $28,697 based on the village’s fee schedule which his architect employed. 225 Northport LLC is seeking between $57,000 and $74,000 in the filed suit.
Village trustees filed a request to have the case thrown out, arguing the code was correctly and fairly applied and that the developers agreed to reimburse the village for the cost of an external engineering consultant.
Judge Marian Tinari denied the village’s request in a June 30 decision.
An assistant to Mayor Damon McMullen said the mayor and the village have no comment on the hotel or the lawsuit.
Top: Hoffman Grayson Architects LLC rendering of the Northport Hotel