The owner of Snouder’s Corner Drug Store, Hamid Nazif, said he is selling the crumbling landmark. The Great Neck businessman, who bought the building for $690,000 in September 2015, five years after the store closed, said it saddens him to sell, but he’s “had enough.”
“It has cost me nearly a half a million,” he said, citing high taxes, interest, insurance and architect fees. ”I paid for three different architects and an attorney.”
He would not say who is interested in buying Snouder’s.
Nazif and his last architect, Michael Sergio Tedesco, hired A.S. Engineering Services P.C. to conduct an evaluation of Snouder’s in October 2017. Stating that the overall condition of the building was fair to poor, the evaluation concluded that it would not meet building code requirements. Because repairing the building did not appear to be feasible or cost-effective, in A.S.’s opinion, it recommended that Snouder’s be demolished and that a new building be constructed.
At a meeting in November that Nazif could not attend due to illness, the Town of Oyster Bay Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously to accept the findings of the architectural firm Jan Hird Pokorny Associates, hired by the town to weigh in on Snouder’s, which was to renovate the building.
Nazif said the two studies were different. His was architectural, and the town’s was structural. He remains upset that it took the town seven months to share its findings from A.S.’s study and that the preservation meeting was held in his absence.
Harriet Gerard Clark was happy to hear about the potential sale. The executive director of the Raynham Hall Museum, where Robert Townsend, a spy for Gen. George Washington during the Revolutionary War once lived, Gerard Clark has been adamant that the building not be demolished.
“I hope the new owner realizes the value of this amazing building and can capitalize on it,” she said.
The drugstore, on the corner of South and West Main streets in the heart of Oyster Bay, dates back to 1884, and is the oldest operating business in the hamlet. The first telephone in town was installed there, and Theodore Roosevelt was known to ride from his home at Sagamore Hill on horseback to use it. Preservationists have said it is valuable to the hamlet.
Nazif said he loves the building and location and wanted to repair it. But he said, no one wanted to compromise. “I don’t like patchwork,” he said. “and I wasn’t willing to do that. I wanted to do it right, so it would last for a long time, so people would be willing to rent the space.”
He added that his plans would have required a great deal of work and money, which he was prepared to provide. “But I wasn’t willing to be told what to do by people with no skin in the game,” he said. “The final straw was that a couple of people kept saying that I had planned to demolish the building from the beginning. That just isn’t true.”
He has accepted that he will lose money by selling Snouder’s, and hopes to complete the sale in the next couple of months.
Architect John Collins, a member of the Town of Oyster Bay Landmarks Preservation Commission since its inception in the 1970s, said the group would like to work with the new owner. Because the building is a landmark, an owner is required to give a presentation to the commission about his or her plans for it. Sometimes owners meet with the commission informally prior to their presentations, Collins said, which Nazif did a few times. Doing so helps to avoid the submission of plans that would be unacceptable.
“I’m hoping the new owner will be someone sympathetic to a careful restoration and the guidelines,” Collins said. “Someone who will save as much of the original material and restore it correctly. We’d like to work with them.”
Gerard Clark is looking forward to what Snouder’s could become. “I think a bistro would be a terrific addition to the fantastic restaurants in Oyster Bay,” she said. “It would be nice to see the windows glowing at night as people have dinner. If the owner wants to put apartments upstairs, I would have no objection.”
There are 38 historical landmark buildings left in the Town of Oyster Bay, which dates back to the 1600s.