Deeds and Dont’s

The inside scoop on Hamptons real estate


The Hamptons are heating up, and it’s not just because of the widely spread rumor that Jennifer Lopez is putting down roots in Water Mill. As the wealthiest 1 percent of the country is driving our national economy, the Hamptons real estate market has been the happy beneficiary of a hot-and-heavy $20-million-and-up sales boom.

Beechwood, the Francis Fleetwood–designed 17,000-square-foot home on Great Plains Road in Southampton, had an asking price of $38 million and recently sold for a reported $24 million—quite a reduction, but still an inland Southampton record. On a long private drive off Further Lane in East Hampton, a 7,500-square-foot home on three-and-a-half oceanfront acres, listed at $32 million, has reportedly sold for $28 million. And a traditional mansion with deeded beach access at 6 Gracie Lane (also known as 89 Lily Pond Lane) in East Hampton just sold for $20 million.

The historic Charles H. Adams House, on Lee Avenue in East Hampton, is selling above its asking price of $24.5 million, according to listing agent Beate Moore of Sotheby’s International Realty, who describes the home as one of the Hamptons’ largest perfectly renovated shingled cottages. The historic three-story Queen Anne was built by Carnegie Hall designer William B. Tuthill. With 14,000 square feet of living space, 14 bedrooms, 12 bathrooms, six fireplaces, and a heated gunite pool and spa on two manicured acres, the house was a prize, with multiple motivated buyers. Going into contract in less than a month for $25.75 million ($1.25 million higher than the ask) was “good for everyone’s morale,” notes Moore. “People are not looking for fixer uppers. Customers are looking for beautifully appointed houses in good locations. The key to activity is pricing properties correctly from the start.”

Beechwood and Further Lane: courtesy of Tim Davis, Corcoran; Charles H. Adams House: courtesy of Beate Moore, Sotheby’s International Realty


Moore’s excited about a new listing in Sagaponack with deeded ocean access. The iconic Charles Gwathmey modern is 8,000 square feet with seven bedrooms and 11.5 bathrooms, listed at $24 million. It has sweeping views over two-and-a-half acres of manicured grounds, including second-floor panoramic ocean vistas. There’s a media room, gym, two wine cellars, heated gunite pool, pool house, all-weather tennis court, and heated five-car garage. “It’s an exceptional property,” she says. The late architect was just as well known for his exceptional clientele, including such power brokers as Steven Spielberg. “Whenever I had a project on the East Coast,” Spielberg told the New York Times, “the first call I made was to Charlie.”

2012 Market report

Not a single Chanel snow boot was donned this winter, and unseasonably warm weather brought buyers and renters out early and often. And despite Wall Street Journal headlines like “Honey, They Shrunk My Bonus,” several seasonal rentals went for a million dollars.

“The rental market early on had strong indicators, with high-end renters committing early, especially in a repeat rental,” says Moore. “Wall Streeters will always be the strongest customers due to our proximity to Manhattan. They can also park their families out here during the summer.” Yet Moore notes increased interest from Russia and Asia. She also has been selling to Europeans—from Brits and Italians to Germans and French—almost sight unseen. “They browse the Internet, contact me, and make a date to come over.”

The Hamptons sales market, however, is hardly homogenized. It’s easy to find a $40 million oceanfront home and a $400,000 foreclosure within a 10-mile radius. But many agents are reporting a very strong first quarter. “We are certainly ahead in terms of sales and contracts this year from last,” notes Corcoran Senior Vice President Jack Pearson. “Two things have shifted the business for 2012. One is obviously the warmer weather, so we’re two months ahead of traffic flow. Second, all our customers and clients have a much higher confidence level, and that’s what drives them to make decisions. Last year and the year before, people were second-guessing themselves about spending money. Still, everyone wants value: Sellers are pricing homes competitively, and buyers realize there are no fire sales.”

Hamptons real estate usually involves threesomes, namely the buyer, the seller, and, of course, the bank. It’s the latter player who has also made a big difference in the readjusted market. “No one wants to overpay, and no bank wants to lend money on something that’s not worth as much as the buyers are paying,” says Pearson. “Now we’re seeing mortgages approved and business flowing.

“Any property that’s in a good location and competitively priced is hot,” he adds. “For example, we have a modern barn—a completely renovated saltbox that was added onto by architect Blaze Makoid—south of the highway on Sagaponack Road in Bridgehampton. It’s listed at $2.995 million, on half an acre with 3,700 square feet and five bedrooms. The place is an incredible value.”

Forstmann: Getty images

meadow lane lovefest

The headline (or head lane) of Hamptons high-end real estate continues to be Meadow Lane in Southampton Village. With three sales last year topping $20 million (including a $32.5 million property), this stretch of land between ocean and bay continues its alchemy of turning sand and soil to gold. A 9,000-square- foot home on 2.3 acres at 322 Meadow Lane just sold for $28.5 million to a young international family. And two others are in contract: 1360 Meadow Lane, listed at $19.95 million, and 96 Meadow Lane, listed at $21.6 million. A Norman Jaffe–designed oceanfront home next to Coopers Beach is newly listed at $29.95 million.

So what is the Meadow Lane mystique? Tim Davis, senior vice president of Corcoran, points to the allure of extra privacy, courtesy of the road’s wider-than-usual oceanfront parcels, plus vistas that stretch from sea to bay, allowing for sunrise and sunset views. Of course, having your own helipad at the end of the lane makes for easy access. And if you’re going to be summering in St. Tropez instead, a Meadow Lane mansion can rent for $500,000 to $600,000 a month. Davis notes that the beach has added about a half acre over a 10-year period, as opposed to the massive erosion seen on other oceanfront areas.

A moneyed clientele of international buyers and young families comprise the new Meadow Lane nesters, reports Davis, who has the exclusive $34 million listing for the estate of the late Ted Forstmann, chairman and CEO of IMG Worldwide and senior
partner of Forstmann Little & Co. Famous for originating the term “barbarians at the gate,” about the leveraged-buyout industry, billionaire Forstmann created a fabulous Meadow Lane billionaire bachelor pad. It was even rumored that Princess Diana once asked him to find a house for her to buy nearby, which he did, but British security vetoed it.

The 8,600-square-foot home sits on almost five acres with more than 200 feet of oceanfront. Decorated by Bunny Williams, it features high ceilings, walls of glass, six bedrooms, and six-and-a-half bathrooms. The exterior has an oceanfront pool, two hot tubs, and a championship tennis court. Forstmann also acquired approximately four acres adjoining the property and donated it to Southampton Village and the Peconic Land Trust, assuring protected views and privacy.

For the tennis aficionado, the house has a rich history, with Martina Navratilova and Boris Becker having graced the court as part of Forstmann’s annual Huggy Bear tennis tournament, which raised millions for children’s charities. Forstmann was known for his philanthropies, and with fellow Hamptons residents Jeff Greene (Tyndal Point), Ronald Perelman (The Creeks), and Mayor Michael Bloomberg (Ballyshear) signed the Giving Pledge, dedicated to donating a great part of one’s wealth to charity. Interestingly, Forstmann is the first person to pass away on the 70-person list. While you can’t exactly count it as a charitable deduction, who knows if some of that $34 million price tag might just go to a good cause?


bringing back Bridgehampton’s Four Corners

Before it was called Bridgehampton, settlers referred to the area as Bull’s Head. What is now the Bridgehampton/Sag Turnpike was a toll road built in 1837 and run by the Sag Harbor & Bulls Head Turnpike Company, which charged 8 cents a wagon. And before there were 29,000 rental listings on HREO, the four corners of Ocean Road, the turnpike, and Montauk Highway housed visiting glitterati in glamorous private residences, inns, and taverns from 1850 to 1950.

Courtesy of Bridgehampton Historical Society

“The four corners must have been very impressive when you came into town,” says Julie Greene, Bridgehampton Historical Society (BHS) archivist. As the easternmost station of the railway, Bridgehampton was “the destination” from 1870 to 1895, she notes. Following its heyday, the prestigious village center slumped into decline and was nicknamed “Gassy Bull,” due to the proliferation of gas stations in the 1960s. An era of neglect and deterioration soon followed.

These days, three of the corners surrounding Bridgehampton’s War Monument are seeing a revival­—Greek Revival, that is, with two historic renovations and a new commercial building.

The Nathaniel Rogers House, considered one of the two most important surviving Greek Revival structures on Long Island, is being restored by the BHS as its new administrative, exhibition, and event space. Nathaniel Rogers, who was one of the most popular miniature painters in America, bought the 1820s Federal-style house that had been owned and built by Abraham Topping Rose. Across the street, Rose then built what is now the Bull’s Head Inn. BHS director John Eilertson surmises that, in what may be an early case of property envy, Rogers looked out the window at his neighbor’s grand manse and said, “I want one of those.” Thus, in 1840, he remodeled his house in a grand Greek Revival style. In the late 1890s, the Hedges and Hoppings families turned the Rogers mansion into the spectacular Hampton House Hotel and restaurant, which flourished for 50 years.

The Hopping family lived in the house until 2004, after which it deteriorated until the columns were literally held in place only by two-by-fours. The BHS worked diligently with the Town of Southampton, the Community Preservation Fund, and private donors to purchase the property and house for approximately $3.5 million.

The total cost of renovation is slated at $6 million, under the stewardship of the BHS and Jan Hird Pokorny Associates, known for doing skilled restoration work on historic wood-frame structures. If all goes well with fundraising, they hope to be finished by July 4, 2014. Along with state and town funding, donations from the community are encouraged. For just $25,000, you can have one of the famous four columns of the Nathaniel Rogers House named for you.

The former Bull’s Head Inn is undergoing a top-to-bottom restoration in a return to its original Greek Revival glory and name—Topping Rose House. Slated to open this summer, it will be a year-round, full-service inn with 22 guest rooms and a restaurant run by acclaimed chef Tom Colicchio.

On the northwest corner, Wick’s Tavern (frequented by soldiers during the American Revolution) ultimately devolved into a beverage store known simply as “the beer place.” With the structure now razed, the location will be home to a two-story Greek Revival–style building with 9,000 square feet of commercial retail and office space available for $45,000 a month.


New Kids on the Block
Summer’s here, which means it’s time to do the Hamptons shuffle. In a land where Main Street buildings sell for up to $7 million, key money for a restaurant can be $500,000, and retail rent can reach $45,000 per month, a fresh crop of restaurants and retailers pops up every summer to attract the well-heeled crowd. Here, we welcome the newcomers, bid adieu to those who’ve left, and track any movers and shakers to their new digs.

On the home decor front, Sweden-based Lexington Clothing Company arrived in red, white, and blue style with its first store in the U.S., at 73 Main Street in East Hampton. Designer Kristina Lindhe offers classic American furnishings, decorating services, and clothing for the “casual luxury” lifestyle.

Navigating the world on a 12-country shopping trip is one thing, but navigating the Architectural Review Board in historic Sag Harbor Village is quite another. After a two-year odyssey, designer Natasha Esch has opened the doors to MONC XIII at 40 Madison Street. Upon buying the building, she did a top-to-bottom renovation with architect Martin Sosa, retaining the authentic historic flavor while opening up the space to showcase eclectic, elegant home accessories and vintage furniture. Thrilled with her new location, Esch says, “There’s a great quality of life in Sag Harbor, and ‘the good life’ is what we sell here.”

Just across the street, Mona Nerenberg has expanded Bloom to the small cottage behind the main store, stocked with antiques and contemporary home and garden items in her signature nature-inspired palette. And C. sells by the seashore for entrepreneur Chris Burch: A branch of his C. Wonder empire is popping up for the summer in Southampton at 5 Main Street. The lifestyle brand offers everything from flip-flops to picnic baskets to roller skates with an American-seaside edge. For non-Black Card-carrying fashionistas, the shop promises an average price of $40.

With only so many spaces to fill in a highly competitive market, the Hamptons restaurant scene resembles a game of musical chairs. Whether you left your chair or were bumped out of it, someone is always waiting to take your spot. Memorial Day announces a brand-new seating chart.

Top Hamptons restaurateur David Loewenberg of the Beacon, Fresno, and redbar, along with partner and executive chef Sam McCleland, has taken over the former Oasis in Sag Harbor to open the new Bell & Anchor. The waterfront marina restaurant at 3253 Noyac Road has undergone a total renovation and a breezy style update from David’s wife, designer Sarah Loewenberg, and will specialize in seafood.

Both Boathouse and Beachhouse have drifted far, far away. Frank Cilione and partners are opening the Hamptons Players Club in the former Beachhouse location at 103 Montauk Highway in East Hampton. The equestrian/polo–themed restaurant includes a formal dining room, casual outdoor beer garden with fireplace, and VIP lounge. We hear straight from the horse’s mouth that Cilione is here to stay with an 11-year lease. With a crossover crowd from Palm Beach Polo, you may catch Nic Roldan and Nacho Figueras competing (albeit over Ping-Pong) in the garden.

Newcomer Andrra takes over the waterside setting that Boathouse (formerly Bostwick’s) used to occupy on Gann Road on Three Mile Harbor. Owners Sami Krasniqi (who is the executive chef), Noti Krasniqi, and Rich Silver, along with consulting chef William Valentine, are bringing a Mediterranean concept to the recently renovated venue, which will also include a late-night lounge. Closer to town, look for the Meatpacking District favorite Beaumarchais to open in the former Philippe Chow space and bring its “Beau Brunch” à la plage.

Nello is now Nammo. (Say that three times fast.) Nammo Estiatorio is opening a new self-named restaurant and club at 136 Main Street in Southampton in the charming former Old Post House. And Pomme Café is out at 16 Main Street in Sag Harbor, replaced by Muse in the Harbor, which recently relocated from Water Mill complete with tropical-fish-tank centerpiece and new American menu from chef/owner Matthew Guiffrida.

Meanwhile, just when it seemed Citarella had cornered the Hamptons’ fine-foods market, Whole Foods announced that it’s popping up at the former Plitt Ford dealership in Wainscott. Expect an abundance of Whole Paycheck jokes all summer long.

Surf lodge: Rob Rich

Rough Seas ahead for the Surf Lodge?
After protracted legal wrangling and bitter squabbling between longtime Montauk residents and part-time resident partygoers, the owners of the Surf Lodge have decided to bail out. As a parting gift, they leave the reported new owner, Montauk Properties LLC, headed by Michael Walrath, with 686 alleged violations of town code to address. These range from an illegal hot-dog truck to no certificate of occupancy. Will the neighborhood be facing another jam-packed summer? That deafening roar is the loyal Lodgers’ “Yea” to the locals’ “Nay.”