A proposal to demolish Valencia Tavern to create a mixed-use complex is dividing Huntington residents by their generation.
The Town of Huntington has temporarily stalled a developer’s proposal to demolish the more than 100-year-old Wall Street bar in order to build a three-story building with retail storefront and apartments in Huntington Village.
Conceptual plans submitted to the town last November by the developer, 236 VT Wall Street LLC, call for 7,840-square-foot retail space with a total of 24 apartments on the second and third stories. This would require the developers to acquire more than 9,000 square feet of town land along West Shore and Creek roads in Huntington.
As an alternative, the developer also put forth a plan to redevelop without purchasing the town land for a smaller retail space, but the same number of apartments.
To move forward, the developer would need a number of variances approved for a 13-to-15 parking space deficit, mixed-use zoning, building above the two-story height restriction and possible vision obstruction.
James Margolin, a Huntington-based attorney who represents the developer, said they received a letter of denial from the planning board in January.
“We hope to acquire the surplus town land and move forward with the application,” Margolin said, saying there is no set time frame to submit plans to Huntington’s Board of Zoning Appeals.
The proposed plans have divided the community between those calling for the building’s historic preservation and those seeking affordable housing.
A copy of an online petition titled “Save the Valencia Tavern” was presented by Bob Suter to the Huntington town board Jan. 23 in an effort to save what he called one of the town’s most iconic taverns.
“Now this historic establishment, the one-time haunt of famed Long Islanders like Billy Joel, is being threatened by developers,” Suter read from the petition. “They want to tear down the Valencia and build yet another generic mixed-use property in its place. We feel that demolishing the Valencia would do irreparable harm to the fabric of the community.”
Calls to save the tavern were met by opposition from younger residents, millennials who currently work and play in Huntington hoping one day to call it home.
Dan Busci, a Huntington native, returned to the area after graduating from the University of Vermont with a degree in green building design and sustainable development looking for such apartments.
“I’ve looked at apartments around Huntington where I want to live and work,” Busci said. “The high prices have dissuaded me and made it impossible for me to move out.”
He encouraged the board to allow the developer’s plans to move forward and pushed for construction of a green, energy-efficient building in its place.
“Huntington Village has enough bars, what we really need are rental apartments,” Nicole Hoyt said.
Hoyt, a 24-year-old graphic designer, said she has an hour to hour-and-a-half commute daily to her job in Huntington after an unsuccessful hunt for an affordable apartment in town.
“I wish people opposing this new development would take a step back and consider the progression of the community as a whole,” she said. “To pass on this opportunity would be a mistake.”