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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