Huntington’s historic new hotel is open for business.
And after years of setbacks over permits and approvals, the historic but long-vacant Town Hall on Main Street — site of the new Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton — will again be a place to meet, greet, and now, sleep.
Commack native George Tsunis, who was named United States Ambassador to Greece in March, developed the property. Thursday’s official opening of the hotel ended an odyssey that started back in 2013.
“This was always one of my favorite buildings and it saddened me when it fell into disrepair and was abandoned for practically two decades,” said Tsunis, who lives in Lloyd Harbor but is set to fly to Greece on Friday to begin his ambassadorship. “Huntington really needed a hotel, and what better way than to repurpose this historic, magnificently beautiful town hall building into a hotel, revitalize the building and provide an economic center for Huntington village for years to come.”
On Thursday, officials, area historians and members of the community attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the 81-room hotel in the Old Town Hall Historic District.
“This is a wonderful example of adaptive reuse,” said Huntington Town Historian Robert Hughes of the restored structure. “It’s all about recycling buildings. Instead of tearing them down you can repurpose them for something else.”
Town Supervisor Ed Smyth said the hotel is a wonderful addition to the town.
“It’s an asset to the town that looks fantastic.” Smyth said. “The developer retained the historic nature of the building while at the same time modernizing and making it a very functional space.”
In 2013 the town planning board gave approval to build a 55-room boutique hotel on the site at 227 Main St., using the town hall building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The previous developer never received the necessary building permits before a five-year deadline expired. The planning board in February 2018 extended conditional approval for the plan until March 2023.
Tsunis stepped in and went into contract to buy the building from the previous owner in 2019.
The Old Town Hall ceased operation as municipal offices in 1979. It was the first town hall that served Huntington’s 18,000 residents when it was built in 1910.
The repurposed building includes a two-and-a-half floor lobby that preserves the original town hall and a new wing constructed for the guest rooms.
Among those at the ceremony was former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato who mused about Tsunis working for him many years ago. Tsunis missed it because he got stuck in traffic coming from Manhattan.
But Tsunis was able to enjoy some festivities. County Executive Steve Bellone presented him with a wooden desk name plate engraved with his name and ambassador title, and a clock with the Suffolk County seal.
“It’s a great day,” Tsunis said.