As rumors of a possible 7-Eleven store in a long-shuttered restaurant on Montauk Highway circulated Friday morning, the sound of a collective big gulp could be heard in Amagansett, even as some town officials said they could not confirm the buzz.
Yvonne Principi-Velasquez, one of the property's owners, did not confirm or deny the rumors, saying only that she would “prefer to wait until the store opens” before discussing the project.
But Rona Klopman, an Amagansett resident and the chairwoman of the hamlet’s citizen advisory committee, said she had spoken to someone on a construction crew at the site Thursday who told her the building was being transformed into a 7-Eleven.
Last year, some residents of Montauk railed against a 7-Eleven store -- the first in East Hampton Town -- that opened on Main Street. Many said the store interferes with independent local businesses.
East Hampton Town's architectural review board would be the first agency to know just what is planned if and when it receives an application for a new sign for the site.
A 7-Eleven “has not been the message,” Robert Schwagerl, the chairman of the board, said on Friday. He explained that the board has not reviewed an application for a sign.
However, the owners of the new Montauk 7-Eleven were cited in the fall by East Hampton Town for failing to obtain permission for two signs there. While that matter is pending, the two, brightly illuminated signs remain in the store's front window.
The Principi family, which owns the property near the IGA in the hamlet, received approval recently from the architectural review board for minor exterior changes to the building. Mr. Schwagerl said he is not sure what the family plans to do.
Thomas Preiato, the East Hampton Town senior building inspector, confirmed Friday that the Building Department has issued a permit for a façade change and some minor interior changes to the building, but he did not know who the owners plan to take on as a tenant in the space.
As for a 7-Eleven, he said, “It’s possible it could be, and it would be permitted.”
The property is zoned commercial business, and a retail such as a convenience store would be legal there.
As recently as last summer, the building housed an art gallery called Villa 421.
“Right now, I have no concrete basis to say it is a 7-Eleven,” Mr. Preiato said.