Gansett Project Downsized

    Putnam Bridge, the Connecticut developer seeking to build a senior citizen housing development on the former Principi property east of the Amagansett commercial district on Montauk Highway, has downsized its plan for the development following the Town Planning Department’s critique of the proposal.

    Initial plans for 555 Amagansett, as the proposed development is known, called for 63 cottages and 26 apartments, for a total of 89 units. These dwellings were to average 1,550 square feet and be priced between $850,000 and $1.8 million.

    The revised plan reduces the overall density of the project, eliminating 10 units. Some have also been redesigned. New apartments of 692 square feet, which the developer estimates would be priced significantly lower than under the original plan, are now part of the proposal.

    “We got rid of 28 cottages,” said Britton Bistrian of Amagansett, a consultant to the project. “It doesn’t sound like density went down a great deal, but we made more of them apartment units — the flats. We got rid of actual structures and put them into more apartment-like buildings. We opened up a big swath of open space down the middle of the property, and took all cottages off Montauk Highway.”

    The developer also intends to designate 10 percent of the development’s units as affordable housing, per the Long Island Workforce Housing Act of 2008, plus an additional 10 percent to be designated as affordable by local market-rate standards.

    Among the points raised by the town planning board when it took a look at the developer’s original proposal was the need to provide amenities that a larger portion of the community might be able to benefit from, Ms. Bistrian said in a July 5 letter to Reed Jones, the board’s chairman.

“Amagansett has a dearth of good playgrounds,” she said this week. “We proposed to put a big, fenced-in playground in the big, open field on the north side of the property.” Another idea, she said, is to situate a barn on the property to be designated a multipurpose building for the entire community’s use, and a site to be used as a communal garden. Under the new design, the overall footprint of the 23.5-acre property, Ms. Bistrian said, would be characterized by more open, scenic, and public spaces.

    In addition to concerns about density, affordability, and benefits to the larger community, an advisory memo prepared in May by JoAnne Pahwul, the town’s assistant planning director, questioned the year-round support a market-rate housing complex would have in Amagansett, where 65 percent of all housing units are seasonal, according to the 2000 United States Census.

    One aspect of the proposed development that has not changed is a commitment to sustainability. In the April 8 presentation to the Amagansett Citizens Advisory Committee, the architect Jaquelin Robertson of Cooper, Robertson and Partners in New York promised a complex that would produce as much electricity as it consumed, and a “zero-wastewater community” that would produce no nitrogen.

    “We came out of the planning board with definitive marching orders,” said Francis Jenkins III of Putnam Bridge, who had presented the plan to the citizens committee with Mr. Robertson. “I think we did exactly what we said we’d do all along, which is take community input and tie it back into the plan. It took longer than we wanted, but it’s a very thorough response. But we came into this eyes wide open, knowing that we were going to have to run a very open and robust process.”

    Ms. Bistrian said she hopes for a response from the Planning Department by Labor Day.