Shared work space where new business startups might attract capital and partners seemed a welcome idea in the Hamptons.
In fact, doors for such a venture, called The Spur, opened with much fanfare in Southampton Village and attracted a modest, though dedicated, paid clientele.
A bigger venue, the old Buick building on Hampton Road near the Route 27/27A junction, was recently purchased to expand the business, and yet another hub was planned for East Hampton, to be opened next month.
If membership numbers were at least sustainable and were indeed growing, The Spur would quickly emerge as an important player in the marketplace.
Ashley John Heather, the dynamic founder, found himself happily juggling the three properties, brimming with enthusiasm. The former Buick dealership at 630 Hampton Road was undergoing a complete facelift, The Spur sign featured proudly outside.
What a difference a week makes. Heather, who had engineered the purchase and the ongoing renovation of the Hampton Road property, found himself at odds with both the seller and construction company. It left him shaken, though certainly still on his feet.
“I am an entrepreneur. I walk up a hill every morning,” he said. “We continue to work with all the players.”
In December, The Spur was awarded a $500,000 state grant through the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council for the development of the building. Included in the plans were 15,000 square feet of interactive space, dining and cocktail facilities, and room for just about anything needed to make a contact and collect a hashtag.
But Assemblyman Fred Thiele, who helped procure the grant, said, as The Independent was going to press, “I’m not sure they’ve even gotten the application yet.” Further, he pointed out, it is a matching grant, with the state money coming in on the back end. In other words, there will be no grant money available to make ends meet. “I don’t think they can use the money for any of the costs,” he said.
Members who pay $100, $200, or more per month, plus an annual fee — with different prices offering different perks — were lining up to join, Heather said. But the 200 or so potential new members for the new Southampton space are frozen out.
The owner of the Hampton Road property, Bruce Lewin of BRL Hampton Road LLC, reportedly bought the building and leased it to Heather with an eye on eventually selling it to the entrepreneur. Instead, he notified Heather via a letter from his attorney earlier this month their lease was in danger of being voided. Lewin’s attorney, Peter Guirguis of Mintz & Gold LLP in Manhattan, informed The Spur owner that Lewin wanted the building back.
Heather’s attorney Kevin Mulry of Farrell Fritz, P.C. in Uniondale refuted the charges.
Frank DeVito, the contractor, reportedly withdrew from the project as well. Heather said there was a personal conflict between the two.
Guirguis sent a letter and a surrender agreement on February 13 to Heather’s attorneys. Mulry wrote to Guirguis on February 15 stating the agreement for 630 Hampton Road was still valid. “No change in circumstances that would require the lease of the security deposit or the surrender of the premises” has occurred. “Litigation is not in the interest of any of the parties,” he stated.
The letter was sent the day after The Spur announced its new East Hampton location at the venue space at 44 Three Mile Harbor Road, which is slated to be ready to open by mid-March. It has been home for a dozen or more nightclubs over the past four decades. Frank Cilione, said to be the owner, did not return calls by press time.
“We’re up to date on the bills. We have the support of 500 people who want this to happen,” Heather said.