Fire-ravaged site unsecured; poised for sale

The Neptune Inn (above) has been plagued by security problems after a fire shuttered the popular eatery years ago. - Photo by Patrick Rocchio

After a ravenous fire destroyed much of the interior of the Neptune Inn, a popular City Island eatery, security issues continue to plague the site.

The Neptune Inn, located at 35 City Island Avenue, at the corner of Rochelle Street, suffered a fire over two years ago and is still closed.

Vandals have entered the property by breaking through a plexi-glass sidewalk-dining patio facing City Island Avenue, leaving neighbors worried about potential hazards to adjoining properties.

“Glass is broken at the Neptune Inn, but I don’t know if anything has happened since we called 311 weeks ago,” said Paul Klein, owner of the gift shop Exotica and vice-president of the City Island Chamber of Commerce. “I think it is a hazard to the community.”

A visit to the site recently revealed a hole in the patio where vandals had apparently gained access to the site.

Overturned tables and chairs are visible from the street.

“The Neptune Inn had a very bad fire where firefighters were injured when part of the roof caved in,” said Rochelle Street resident Maureen Hrasha, who lives around the corner from the former restaurant. “It is an eyesore, and we are afraid of people, as well as animals, getting into the restaurant.”

Klein saw the property as indicative of some issues the island community is having with storefront vacancies, and feels that a massive revamping of City Island Avenue is needed to boost business.

“We are talking about getting some grant money for storefront rehabilitation, and are in the process of working towards getting extra monies for historical preservation of the island’s many points of interest,” Klein noted. “We would like to do something to improve storefront facades.”

Meanwhile, the property at 35 City Island Avenue is in the midst of a sale. According to sources, Sam Chirnin, owner of Sammy’s Fishbox, Sammy’s Shrimp Box, and the Seashore Restaurant on City Island, is buying the property from its current owner, an entity listed on Department of Building records as 35 City Island Avenue LLC.

“Sammy wants to buy the property, and it has been under contract for the past year and a half,” said Jackie Kyle Kall, of Port of Kall Realty. “There is a dispute about a piece of the parcel that was owned by one of the former owners of another restaurant. That man lives in Florida, and the sale is tied up in court until who owns what is delineated.”

Kall says she expects a deal forthcoming shortly.

Whatever happens at the site, at least one person who lives nearby hopes the eyesore will be torn down, as traffic at the Neptune Inn frequently backed up into a no-standing zone on Rochelle Street.

“I am hoping whoever buys the property doesn’t use our street as a place to line up cars for valet parking, as the Neptune Inn did in the past,” Hrasha explained. 

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