The Observer: New look hotel approved for tax break

By David Ambro
July 5, 2018

On the verge of receiving a tax abatement from the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency (IDA), the owners of the hotel proposed to be built on the northeast corner of Main Street and Woodside Avenue in Northport Village have finalized a new building design to incorporate features of the historic Conklin House that once stood on the property.

The hotel is being built by 225 Northport LLC, an equal partnership of Kevin O’Neill and Richard Dolce, who own the John W. Engeman Theater at Northport, which is across the street from the proposed hotel. They propose to demolish a 17,610-squarefoot office building, which encases the old Conklin House, and construct a 25,500 square foot, three story hotel with 24 rooms and a 200-seat groundfloor restaurant. The site is .84 acres. The project includes the construction of a two-tier parking lot in the rear of the building on Woodside Avenue.

Mr. Dolce and Mr. O’Neill bought the site January 6, 2016 for $1,320,958. They hope to demolish the building this fall and begin construction of the hotel, work estimated at $7,741,605, and a job expected to take 12 to 18 months with anticipated occupancy in the fall of 2019 to winter of 2020. With equipment estimated at $1.23 million and with other miscellaneous expenses, the total cost of the hotel is estimated at $11,689,055. The hotel is expected to create 40 new jobs, generating an annual payroll of $1.4 million.

The preliminary hotel design Mr. O’Neill had presented was a traditional red brick facade with an entrance in the center of the building, fashioned after the American Hotel in Sag Harbor. Mr. O’Neill provided The Observer this week with a rendering of the new design, which features a rounded facade with an entrance facing the corner of Main Street and Woodside Avenue, a white panel facade, mansard roof and windows that replicate those that were once on the Conklin House.

“This will make it a downtown Northport building, not a downtown Huntington building. There is a big difference,” Mr. O’Neill said during an interview at his office in the theater last week. “This is going to pay homage to the old house.”

Mr. O’Neill said the previous design was preliminary to let people see what could become of the blighted office building on the property now. He said that all the while he has been looking at boutique hotels around the country to find the right fit, and that the inspiration for the new design is the Delamar Hotel in Southport, Connecticut.

“We decided to model it in that image because we feel it is a better fit for Northport,” Mr. O’Neill said. “We want to build a building we are going to be proud to walk into every day and that I think is in keeping with Northport Village architecture.”

Mr. O’Neill said the more he looked at the first design plan the more he got cold to it. He said that the mansard roof made him immediately warm up to the new design. He said the Delamar design is that of a harbortown building. “And, I think it is going to give our hotel a fantastic harbortown feel,” he said.

Mr. O’Neill said that during the Northport Village Board of Architectural and Historic Review Board application process for a demolition permit, it was suggested that the project incorporate some of the building elements of the old Conklin House, including the windows. “We are doing that in a significant way with the window design of the third-floor dormers,” Mr. O’Neill said.

In the meantime, the hotel project received preliminary approval June 28 for a $1.3 million property tax abatement, according to a statement released by the IDA.

“The design and style will be in keeping with a classic, old-world harbor town and will fill a much needed lodging void in the area,” says the IDA application for the property tax rebate. “The economic impact on both the existing theater business, as well as on the Village of Northport and the surrounding area, will be tremendously positive. This project will allow the John W. Engeman Theater, which is the major economic driver in the Village of Northport, to continue to remain a viable business entity going forward.”

At its meeting Thursday, June 28, the IDA Board granted preliminary approval of a 15-year property tax exemption totaling $758,066, a sales tax exemption of $516,653, and a mortgage tax exemption of $31,875, a total financial abatement package of $1,309,594. The current property tax bill on the property is $56,545. The hotel development will increase the property tax bill to $174,268. With the IDA abatement the first year tax bill will be $87,134, a 50% savings but still a $30,589 property tax increase from the current building. The property taxes abatement will be phased down in three percent increments over the 15-year life of the abatement.

“Having the tax abatement package that is being proposed by the IDA is integral to our project,” Mr. O’Neill said.

“The proposed project will fill a void in an area absent of hotels and, in turn, stimulate the local economy,” said Tony Catapano, Executive Director of the Suffolk County IDA. “The IDA is pleased to play a role in this project that will generate significant tax revenue for the Northport community.”

According to the IDA the site is directly across the street from the John W. Engeman Theatre, which is also owned by the hotel developers. The theater employs more than 200 people and brings over 110,000 visitors to the village each year.

“The property will generate $1 million more in property taxes than its current use,” said Kelly Morris, Deputy Executive Director of the Suffolk County IDA. “The addition of the Northport Hotel to the many existing assets of downtown Northport will truly make it a unique tourist destination.”

“We’re enthusiastic about the development of the Northport Hotel and restaurant located right across from the John W. Engeman Theatre, a staple of Northport,” Mr. O’Neill said after meeting with the IDA last week. “This project reaffirms our commitment to both Northport and Suffolk County, and it would not have been made possible without the support of the Town of Huntington, Village of Northport and the Suffolk County IDA. Their assistance has helped us realize our goals for this community.”

Northport Inn Survey – Your Input Matters

Dear Friends,

We hope you will take the couple of minutes necessary to answer the attached brief 12 question survey that will assist us in the formation of the boutique inn and restaurant that we will be constructing across the street from the theater at 225 Main Street.


Over the years our patrons feedback has been invaluable in fine tuning the experience enjoyed by all at the John W. Engeman Theater, and has allowed us to offer the world-class experience to which our patrons have become accustomed.  This survey will help us craft a quality venue on par with the theater.  Please take five minutes and help us shape your future with us.


Thank you for your assistance and we look forward to sharing more information with you in the coming months.


Proposed Northport Inn

Newsday: Northport Village approves zoning for hotels around Main Street

August 23, 2017

Northport Village Hall in Northport is seen on Dec. 27, 2014. Photo Credit: Ian J. Stark

By Valerie Bauman

Northport Village trustees approved zoning changes Tuesday night that will allow hotels to operate on and around Main Street.

The village previously had nothing in its code that would allow hotels.

Officials drafted the legislation after Kevin J. O’Neill and Richard T. Dolce, owners of the John W. Engeman Theater, on Main Street purchased a three-floor building across the street from the theater with the goal of converting it into an upscale inn.

The multimillion-dollar project faced a final round of opposition from residents concerned that the hotel — and its planned 200-seat restaurant — would worsen an already congested parking situation downtown.

“In Northport there is a lot of pain about parking, and it’s not a trivial matter,” business owner Carolyn Colwell said at Tuesday’s meeting in Village Hall. “It affects access to small business, civic services and even residents’ access to their homes.”

O’Neill and Dolce still need to obtain the standard permit and project approvals before they can break ground for the hotel.

Residents and Northport business owners had collected signatures on a petition that urged village trustees to address parking problems before allowing a hotel with a large restaurant to move into the village.

O’Neill has said he has a vested interest in making sure that parking runs smoothly because he is committed to making the community a better place to live. The hotel, like the theater, would offer valet parking, he said.

“There’s been a lot of due diligence done on this project,” O’Neill said. “My goal all the time is to make sure that we inconvenience those around us as little as possible with the hopes that we’ll bring something that will enhance the village. That was the hope with the theater, and that’s the hope with the hotel.”

O’Neill said the partners decided to pursue a hotel and restaurant as a way to diversify revenues and ensure financial stability for the theater in the future.

“We go as the show goes,” O’Neill said. “We can’t rely solely on ticket sales.”

UPDATE: July 18th Public Hearing

Dear Friends,

Another public hearing has been called for this coming Tuesday, July 18th at 6:00pm, after which the trustees will vote on the proposed zoning changes that would allow hotels within the Northport Village limits.

If these changes are approved, we will be able to move forward with our plans to convert the current structure at 225 Main Street into a beautiful, first-class inn and restaurant, which we believe would be a great benefit to both the economy and the residents of the Village of Northport.

Additionally, we plan to renovate and expand the current two onsite parking lots that sit directly behind the building at 225 Main Street. Once completed, the two lots will contain a total of 54 onsite parking spaces.

Current view of 225 Main Street
Proposed Northport Inn
In order for this project to move forward, we need to garner as much public support as we can, particularly from Village residents. We hope you can join us and voice your input for the project on Tuesday, July 18th at Northport Village Hall, 224 Main Street, where we will be able to address any questions or concerns you might have.

If you have any questions prior to the hearing, please feel free to contact me directly at

The hearing will begin at 6:00pm, so we suggest you arrive no later than 5:45pm.

We are so grateful for the feedback we’ve received since this project was first announced and for your continued support of the theater. We hope to see you on Tuesday.

Please forward this to anyone you think would be interested in learning more about this project.

Kevin J. O’Neill
Managing Director
The John W. Engeman Theater

Newsday: Northport trustees to vote on allowing hotel in village

July 13, 2017

Kevin J. O’Neill and Richard T. Dolce purchased a three-story building on Main Street in Northport, seen on March 23, 2017, with the goal of converting it into an upscale inn. Photo Credit: Ed Betz


By Valerie Bauman

Northport officials could vote as soon as Tuesday on a resolution to allow a proposed hotel project to move forward in the village, officials said.

Trustees will hold a second public hearing that day on proposed zoning changes to make hotels a permitted use within village limits. The current code does not include language for hotels in Northport.

Deputy Mayor Henry Tobin said trustees could vote after the hearing Tuesday or hold the issue for further consideration, depending on public feedback and board discussion about the proposal.

“The area definitely needs a hotel,” Mayor George Doll said. “People stay out on the turnpike down in Melville when they’re here visiting.”

Kevin J. O’Neill and Richard T. Dolce, owners of the John W. Engeman Theater, purchased a three-story building across Main Street from the venue with the goal of converting it into an upscale inn.

The first public hearing in May showed overwhelming public support for the project, with many residents saying a new hotel would fill an unmet need in Northport.

If village officials pass the zoning changes, O’Neill and Dolce would still need to go through standard permit and project approvals before they could break ground. The project would include a restaurant on the street level, about 24 rooms on the upper two floors and a 54-space parking lot.

O’Neill said the partners have spent $150,000 on planning, design and legal costs for the proposed hotel. He said if all necessary approvals are obtained, work could start this fall and be completed in 12 to 14 months.

He said their goal is to work with the community on any concerns — including parking, which was the biggest issue raised among a few opponents at the initial public hearing.

“It’s important to know we’re a neighbor in this town,” he said. “We have every interest in improving the quality of life in the residential and business communities … I start getting agita when we’re doing anything that’s disruptive to the village around us.”

Tuesday’s public hearing will be at 6:00 p.m. in Village Hall, 224 Main St.


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The Long Islander: Huge Support Voiced For Inn Plan

May 18, 2017

By Janee Law

Northport Village Hall was packed Tuesday night with supporters, and at least one dissenter, of a plan to bring a boutique inn to Main Street.

The support was voiced during a public hearing on a proposal made by trustees to add a “Hotel/Inn” designation to village code, paving the way for the plan to move forward. Trustees are waiting on county and village planning department approval before voting on the change.

In the meantime, Trustee Ian Milligan said he wasn’t surprised by the support.

“I think that people really want this, and we certainly need it, but we also definitely need to listen to the concerns of neighbors,” Milligan said. “We have to weigh that out.”

This inn is planned by John W. Engeman Theater co-owners Kevin O’Neill and Richard Dolce, who proposed the three-story Northport Village Inn in February. They want to build it at 255 Main St. in the building that was formerly Danyell’s Kitchen, footsteps away from their theater.

Milligan added, The “key is that someone’s willing to put such a huge investment to help build the infrastructure of the village. You have to recognize that as a positive.”

The proposed multi-million-dollar inn would span around 22,000 square feet. Along with 22-24 guest rooms across the two upper floors, they also want to have space for a restaurant on the first floor.

O’Neill said after the hearing that he was pleased with the warm reception. He said he thinks residents are in support of it because of the lack of lodging in the village.

“I’m very satisfied,” he said. “It sounds very well received.”

Kevin Lawlor, a Lisa Drive resident, one of 21 people to voice support during the public hearing, said he thinks the inn would “be a boon to this town.”

“I do think the place needs a facelift,” Lawler added. “It will be a boon to the establishments, the businesses that are in this town and it’ll put us on the map.”

Bruce Adams, an Ocean Avenue resident, said he’s thrilled with the plan.

“When you want to put people up, it is alwaysvery difficult to find a decent hotel,” Adams said. “We’ve had hotels here in the past, but they were all torn down and there’s still a need.”

An opponent of the proposal, JoAnne Hall, said she thinks the inn would bring more congestion to the village.

“There is no parking here at all. People park on my street and I can’t get out of my driveway,” Hall, of Woodbine Avenue, said. “There’s going to be additional traffic on that street and noise with people coming up the hill and coming down the hill… It’s a reality. I think the idea is lovely, but not for here.”

The focus of Tuesday’s hearing was a local law that would allow a business owners to operate their building, so long as it is smaller than 12,000 square feet, as a hotel or inn with sleeping accommodations for paying, transient customers.

The proposal would also allow such buildings to house a bar and restaurant, and other typical hotel features, such as a spa.

Northport officials will send two draft zoning resolutions, one to the Suffolk County Planning Commission and the other to the Northport Village Planning Board, before scheduling a vote.


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Newsday: Northport considers zone changes allowing downtown hotels

May 17, 2017

By Valerie Bauman

A rendering of a hotel proposed for Main
A rendering of a hotel proposed for Main Street in Northport by the owners of the John W. Engeman Theater. More than 100 people packed Northport Village hall Tuesday night, May 16, 2017, at a hearing on proposed zoning changes that would allow the hotel on Main Street. Photo Credit: Hoffman Grayson Architects LLP

More than 100 people packed Northport Village hall Tuesday night, voicing overwhelming support for proposed zone changes that would allow hotels to operate on and around Main Street.

Officials drafted two proposals addressing the issue after Kevin J. O’Neill and Richard T. Dolce, owners of the John W. Engeman Theater, purchased a three-story building across the street from the venue with the goal of converting it into an upscale inn.

In order for O’Neill and Dolce’s project — or any hotel proposal — to move forward, village code would first need to be revised, Northport officials said.

Current village law does not include hotels in its list of permitted uses of commercial property downtown, Deputy Mayor Henry Tobin said Tuesday.

O’Neill said Tuesday night that it would be a “multimillion”-dollar project if the village changes the code, and he and his partner succeed in pushing their proposal through further regulatory procedures.

“The concept, in general, was very well-received because there’s no place to stay,” O’Neill said. “I think the area has been starved for lodging opportunities, and the residents are very, very excited about the prospects of that coming into the town.”

“I’m sure all of you have been in a situation where you have people come to visit and you don’t particularly want them to stay in your home,” Northport resident Jeff Barasch, 69, said. “You have to tell them, ‘You don’t have to leave, but you can’t stay.’ Now there’s an opportunity to stay.”

Barasch’s comments — and those from others supporting the new hotel — were met with applause. However, three residents spoke up with concerns about how a hotel could impact Northport’s already limited parking.

“There is no parking here at all,” JoAnne Hall said. “If you don’t think there’s going to be additional traffic on that street and noise with people coming up the hill, coming down the hill, there will be. It’s a reality. The idea is lovely . . . but not for here.”

Village officials said the current hotel proposal would provide one off-street parking space for each room at the inn The inn would have about two dozen rooms, proponents have said.

Village trustees adjourned the hearings without voting, but kept the hearings open for future comment.

Officials said they will send the two draft zoning resolutions to the village Planning Board and Suffolk County Zoning Commission for review.


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The Long Islander: Engeman Owners Unveil Parking Plan For Inn

April 20, 2017

Long Islander News photo/Janee Law Kevin J. O’Neill, co-owner and managing director of the John W. Engeman Theater, presenting the tentative parking plan for a proposed three-story Inn to be built on Main Street in Northport Village.

By Janee Law

Kevin O’Neill and Richard Dolce, co-owners of the John W. Engeman Theater, presented the tentative parking plan for their proposed three-story, Northport Village inn at Tuesday’s trustee meeting.

The plan calls for a total of 54 parking spaces — 30 of which will be new — across two Woodside Avenue lots, which will be expanded and renovated as part of the plan. The lots sit behind the 225 Main St. plot eyed, up on the hill along Woodside.

O’Neill and Dolce, managing director and producing artistic director of Engeman Theater respectively, plan to expand the two parking lots 15 feet to the east into a wooded area. O’Neill said they also plan to take the lower lot and move it back while moving the upper lot forward so that is upper lot is suspended over the other. There will be separate entrances for both lots, avoiding the need for a ramp between the two, which O’Neill said would take up parking spaces.

In addition to renovating the parking lots, O’Neill said he will also help resolve the rapids in Northport by installing drainage and dry wells under the lower lot to catch water coming down from the upper lot, preventing roof water from running onto Main Street.

In January 2016, both O’Neill and Dolce bought the building, which is across the street and few steps west of their theater.

A rendering of the proposed inn depicts it as a three-story building that would total approximately 22,000 square feet, O’Neill said. Dubbed as The Northport Inn, the building was inspired by The American Hotel in Sag Harbor, he added.

The multimillion-dollar project also calls for restaurant on the first floor. The upper floors would be a mix of around 22-24 rooms, and would also have some office space for management.

Dorothy Walsh, Northport resident and recording secretary for the Northport Chamber of Commerce, read a statement from members of the chamber at Tuesday’s trustee meeting.

“We receive calls all the time from residents and out of towners looking for accommodations for their friends and relatives, visiting for weddings and other events. Unfortunately, we have to suggest accommodations far from Northport,” Walsh said. “Kevin and Richard have certainly demonstrated in the past their concern for the quality of life in the village and have brought such a beautiful venue in the John W. Engeman Theater on Main Street. The Northport Chamber of Commerce wholeheartedly supports their project.”

Village officials are currently mulling a proposal to alter village code to allow for the land to be used for the inn. They plan to propose the resolution at their May 2 meeting, and will set a public hearing on it May 16.

If approved, O’Neill said, he’d like to break ground in October. Since they haven’t gone into detail with planning, he added, O’Neill wouldn’t be surprised if the project is pushed to the start of 2018.

In the meantime, he said, “The mayor and the trustees have all been very receptive to the concept and we’re happy to provide them with whatever they need to continue to make this project advance.”


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Newsday: Northport theater owners dream of upscale inn nearby

March 27, 2017
By Deborah S. Morris

Northport Village could soon get a hotel.

The owners of the John W. Engeman Theater have purchased the three-story building across the street from the venue and hope to transform it into an upscale inn.

The three-story building at 225 Main St. would have a restaurant on the ground level, with about 24 rooms spread over the other two floors.

Kevin J. O’Neill said he and his partner in the venture, Richard T. Dolce, are inspired by the inns that populate the seaside downtowns of Maine and the American Hotel in Sag Harbor.

“We wanted to see if we could bring to fruition a first-class inn into Northport,” said O’Neill. “My goal is to make it feel like a place that has been here for 150 years, but will have all the current, state-of-the-art accouterments that we all want.”

Photo Credit: Ed Betz

The partners purchased the building in 2016. Right now, it’s used as office space. O’Neill said he envisions a high-end, full-service hotel experience with the quaint and charming feel for which the village is known.

O’Neill and Dolce presented their idea for the Northport Inn to village trustees at a February public meeting and said so far the reaction has been positive.

“The idea is sensational and we are very happy about it,” Northport Chamber of Commerce president Ron Iannacone said. “It just adds another dimension, a destination venue for people to come to the village.”

Northport Village Deputy Mayor Henry Tobin said he thinks it would be great for Northport to have a hotel.

“I think it would be wonderful, convenient to have a hotel,” Tobin said. “So far everyone I’ve spoken with feels the same way.”

Currently, the zoning category where the building sits does not allow a hotel as a permitted use. Village officials would have to amend the code to allow the hotel to be built, Tobin said.

“We don’t have hotels permitted anywhere in the village that I know of,” Tobin said. “Main Street and Bayview and Woodbine [avenues] did have quite a number of hotels in the past, but by the middle of the 20th century those were all gone, and our code was not adopted by the late 1940s, so it was a moot issue.”

O’Neill said he’s hoping village trustees set a public hearing to consider amending the village code to allow for a lodging category sometime this spring.

He said while the hotel will be an added benefit to the village, the restaurant will not encroach on the bottom lines of already established restaurants, pointing out the theater seats 400.

“It’s a unique property in that it’s already zoned for a restaurant and it has parking lots in the back, so you put those two together and it makes for a unique piece of property,” O’Neill said. “We’re really excited about it.”


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The Long Islander: Engeman Owners Plans Main Street Inn

March 02, 2017
By Janee Law

A rendering by Hoffman Grayson Architects, LLP, pictures the development of a proposed three-story inn on Main Street in Northport Village.

The minds behind Northport Village’s John W. Engeman Theater unveiled last week plans to create an inn with a restaurant on Main Street in the village.

Owners Kevin O’Neill and Richard Dolce, managing director and producing artistic director of the theater respectively, presented the plan to Northport Village trustees during their Feb. 21 public meeting.

Plans call to take over 225 Main St., across the street and a few steps west of the theater, which was previously home to now-closed Danyell’s Kitchen and is now used for office space.

“It’s a very unique piece of property and it offers the ability to provide onsite parking,” O’Neill said in an interview Tuesday. He did not specify how many parking spaces could be provided. “The concept is to develop this building into a beautiful inn with a restaurant.”

The building currently scales the hill along Woodside Avenue and has half of a Dutch Colonial home peeking out its top.

“That house is just sticking out of the top of the rectangular roof — it’s cut off at the waist, basically. It’s in disrepair,” O’Neill said, adding that he wants to “renovate this building in a serious way.”

Northport Village Trustee Ian Milligan said Wednesday that the inn would be a good addition to the village.

“Years ago, there were many hotels in Northport, so I don’t think that it’s not in keeping with the feel of the village,” Milligan said. “Judging by Mr. O’Neill’s past projects, we know that he’s going to do a good job with a renovation like that.”

O’Neill said that both he and Dolce bought the building in 2016.

A rendering of the proposed inn depicts it as a three-story building inspired by The American Hotel in Sag Harbor. What’s been dubbed The Northport Inn would total around 20,000 square feet.

O’Neill said the first floor of the building would house a restaurant. The upper two floors would be a mix of rooms, and some office space for management.

“We’ll have much greater detail available as time goes on,” O’Neill added. “We’ll continue to work with the village on whatever they need from us to hopefully complete this.”

In order for the plans to move forward, village trustees need to adjust current commercial codes to accommodate inns and hotels, according to Milligan.

He added that the board is looking into making a change and the potential impact it could have.

“We’re going to see what we need to do to carefully move forward and do something that’s in the best interest of everyone,” Milligan said.

At their March 7 meeting, village trustees plan to schedule a public hearing on the potential code change for March 21, according to Milligan.


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