On this August afternoon, the grounds of South Jamesport mainstay Motel on the Bay, recently renamed Jamesport Bay Suites, were abuzz with activity. But not just with the typical flip-flop-wearing guests.
Near the glistening waters of Great Peconic Bay, a landscaper was hard at work, laying down curbing to separate the waterfront motel’s lawn from its sandy beach — a repair necessitated by damage inflicted by Hurricane Sandy last fall. Outside a first floor suite, a man used white paint to touch up the trim around a front door. Less than 20 feet away, two construction workers were in the midst of rebuilding a wooden deck — another Sandy’s casualty — outside a suite overlooking the water.
“There was quite a bit of a mess here after Sandy,” said motel co-owner Michael Falco.
Mr. Falco, who lives in Douglaston, Queens, purchased the motel with co-owner Livio Forte earlier this summer from a trustee of former owner Robert Patchell for $1.82 million, according to county records, as relayed through Riverhead Town officials.
Now, Mr. Falco and Mr. Forte are busy giving the motel, which rents 11 one-bedroom units and seven studios to vacationers, a significant facelift.
Since the motel’s July 1 ownership change, Mr. Falco said, he and a team of workers have replaced the two-story waterfront building’s wooden handrails and planted an assortment of colorful perennials in the garden. Mildew-prone carpeting — “We’re near the water, after all,” he said — will be ripped out and replaced with beach-friendly linoleum.
Many suites will be outfitted with new appliances and most, if not all, will be stripped of their white walls and repainted a more vibrant color.
“We want to show the neighbors that we’re going to do some work here,” Mr. Falco said. “The idea here is to put the motel back to the condition it was, let’s say, 20 years ago, when it was really a beautiful place.”
In its heyday, Motel on the Bay, which was founded in the mid-1960s, was a summer haven for couples and families who wanted to escape to the North Fork’s quaint towns and sandy beaches. Over more than five decades, the motel has earned the loyalty of “regulars” who faithfully vacation there each year.
“We’ve got people who have been coming here for 25 years and they simply love it,” Mr. Falco said. “They said the motel used to be totally occupied” every day of the week during the summer. “I don’t know what happened,” he said. “Maybe it’s the economy. The weekends are totally booked but the weekdays are slower. We have some vacancies on the weekdays.”
On this particular Tuesday, the motel was mostly quiet but certainly not devoid of guests. Two teenage girls clad in bikinis made their way down to the beach and, in the bay, a family floated on inflatable rafts.
And if the work already performed by Mr. Falco and his crew the past six weeks is any indication of what’s to come, the newly christened Jamesport Bay Suites might just find itself booked to capacity during the summer months next year.
“It’s definitely had a nice facelift,” said Sue Geiser, an office assistant at the motel. “And it’s only going to get better.”