After being vacant for nearly two years, a new tenant has been found for 1 Hampton Road in Southampton Village, the former Southampton Town Hall and more recently a Saks Fifth Avenue store.
Pottery Barn has signed a lease and preparations are being made so the homegoods store can move in next year, confirmed landlord Robert Rattenni.
Rattenni, of Rox-Central Realty Corp. in East Hampton, said he bought the building in July 2002 from a European investor group, when Saks was in the middle of a 20-year lease lasting through December 2011.
It is the only building Rattenni owns in Southampton Village, though he has several in East Hampton. He said what attracted him to 1 Hampton Road was that it is in a prime location, and one of the most visible anchors in the entire village of Southampton.
Saks had an option to renew its lease for another 10 years, but instead opted to leave in October 2010, he said.
In one bulk payment, Saks paid off the approximately 15 months left on the lease, and moved out, Rattenni said. “That decision to leave was 100 percent their decision.”
He said in looking for a new occupant, he wanted to find a business that would be a quality tenant and provide value to the community. And, he said, he found that in Pottery Barn.
A subsidiary of Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn will be open year round and employ local people, Rattenni said.
He expects Pottery Barn will open its doors in May 2013. In the meantime, “I am doing a significant renovation on the interior and structural component of the building,” he said, including a new elevator, new heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and upgraded electrical. Pottery Barn will then customize the interior, he said.
The facade of the building, however, will remain unchanged, as there are covenants on it.
"We would never want to change the exterior of that building," Rattenni said. "It’s such a beautiful building.”
Pottery Barn has a 10-year lease with three five-year optional renewals.
Others in the real estate business are looking forward to see the 1 Hampton Road occupied again.
“It has a huge impact on commercial real estate in Southampton Village," said Morley Quatroche Jr. of The Morley Agency. "Since it's been vacant, since Saks left over two years ago, it's been a difficult thing for me as a landlord to find tenants who want to be in Southampton for more than a short-term basis.”
Quatroche said having a major national retailer commit to Southampton with a long-term lease in a landmark building is a confidence booster for other prospective tenants.
“I think business is good for business," Rattenni said. "So having a tenant of that caliber will be a strong draw for the community. It can do nothing but help the other business in the village.”
Village Mayor Mark Epley said he is excited to have a company make an investment in an anchor location year round, and commit to a long-term lease, as opposed to popup shops that come and go fast.