Boltax shifts for BNB

JULIE LANE PHOTO | The future home of Bridgehampton National Bank on Shelter Island. Owner Karen Boltax is moving her gallery next door to make room for her new tenant.

Before the end of the year, a Bridgehampton National Bank branch is expected to open in the Boltax Gallery building on North Ferry Road, while the gallery will move to another space in the same building. The building has housed Boltax Gallery for 12 years.

When the bankers met with clients at the end of March at Sweet Tomato’s to announce their plans to open a local branch, they weren’t ready to disclose the site because negotiations were under way with gallery and building owner Karen Boltax.

But last Thursday morning, those passing by the gallery would have seen that artwork was being taken away. It was being removed for temporary storage elsewhere while Ms. Boltax readies the other space in the building for a gallery reopening Memorial Day weekend.

“It’s just going to be different,” Ms. Boltax said about her relocation to a smaller space in the building. But it fits in with her long-term plans to continue the Shelter Island gallery while eventually opening another one in New York City, she said.

“I’m optimistic” that the plans will come to fruition, she said about the 1,200 square feet in the center of the building she’s leasing to BNB.

The bankers have work to do to make the branch a reality. The effort is “multi-pronged,” said James Manseau, executive vice president and chief retail banking officer. The bank needs approval from the Office of the Controller of Currency to open a new branch and building permits from Shelter Island Town to convert, he said.

Supervisor Jim Dougherty, at the luncheon with customers, promised town cooperation on building permits necessary for changes that must be made in the building.

“It’s not going to take a lot,” Mr. Manseau said about converting the building. But some work does need to be done to provide the security a bank must have, he said.

He estimated that the new branch would be operational sometime by late this year.

Ms. Boltax leases two residential spaces on the second floor and retail spaces on both north and south ends of the building, although ground floor space on the south end is vacant.

Ms. Boltax is enthusiastic about having a bank in the building, especially one with such a good reputation for local sensitivity, she said. It will increase business opportunities for her gallery and the other retail tenants by bringing year-round traffic to the site, she said.

“It’s a big win,” she said about securing BNB as a tenant.

Prior to Ms. Boltax’s acquisition of the building, it was rented by Shelter Island sculptor Peggy Mach who displayed both her own work and that of other artists. She rented the gallery space from Vivienne Gershon, another Islander, after the Gershon family was no longer using the building for its House of Glass.