Demolition begins in Riverhead's historic district to build town square
Downtown demolition began Monday in the historic district on Main Street in Riverhead to make room for a future town square.
The move included the demolition of two long-blighted buildings opposite the Suffolk Theater. The former Swezey’s Furniture store closed its doors in 2003 and remained empty ever since.
Officials say the removal of the buildings makes way for an open riverfront that pedestrians will be able to see.
Riverhead Town Councilwoman Catherine Kent, who headed up the downtown revitalization project, says it’s the end of an era but also the beginning of a new one.
“And it’s high time for Riverhead to open up the river,” Kent says.
The Town of Riverhead was awarded an $800,000 grant through the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council in 2019 toward the creation of the town square, which will consist of a public gathering space, pedestrian connectivity and open vistas from Main Street to the riverfront.
“I think this is phenomenal,” says Riverhead resident Butch Faleknberg. “It is really updating the town. It needed it, it finally got done it’s been talked about for years.”
The project cost was offset by the utilization of $1.2 million in Suffolk County funds.
Riverhead town officials tell News 12 it is expected to take several days to take the buildings down, but they hope the town square will begin to take shape by the spring.
The Long Island Science Education Center is also planning to reopen directly onto the town square.