Tag Archive | "Sotheby’s"

ZBA Says It Will Approve Sotheby’s Office

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The space on Main Street formerly occupied by the Sag Harbor Express. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

The space on Main Street formerly occupied by the Sag Harbor Express. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Stephen J. Kotz

The Sag Harbor Village Zoning Board of Appeals, in a straw vote on Tuesday, August 19, said it would approve the application of Sotheby’s International Realty to lease the former offices of The Sag Harbor Express at 35 Main Street.

In contrast to a hearing last month, at which several opponents spoke out against the plan, including two other local real estate brokers, and where the board left some doubt as to where it stood on the matter, Tuesday’s discussion was brief and to the point. Board members Tim McGuire, Scott Baker, and Jennifer Ponzini said they were in favor of approving the change of use request, with chairman Anton Hagen ultimately saying he would vote against it.

Board member Brendan Skislock, who was the most supportive of the request at a July 21 hearing, was absent, prompting Dennis Downes, the attorney representing Sotheby’s, to first request a month adjournment before changing his mind after hearing a majority of the board express support for the application.

“I’m conflicted on this,” admitted Mr. Hagen, who said there has been a concern about “the proliferation of real estate offices on Main Street.” He said he does not want to see “another wall of photographs of properties on Main Street. I don’t think that’s desirable.”

But he also expressed concern about the alternative. ”We don’t want a store that closes for six months a year, that could be worse,” he said.

But when polled by assistant village attorney Denise Schoen, Mr. Hagen said he would vote against the application.

“I don’t think it’s for this board to decide what kind of business” the space can be occupied by, said Mr. McGuire.

The application drew controversy when it was heard last month, with opponents saying they did not want to see another real estate office open on Main Street and arguing that in a 2009 code change that froze the number of office spaces on Main Street, the village board had agreed with their position.

But Mr. Downes, Ms. Schoen, and Richard Warren, the village’s planning consultant, told the ZBA the village board had expressly protected the rights of property owners with office uses by guaranteeing their right to switch from one type of an office to another when it adopted the code change. Former Mayor Greg Ferraris, who was in office at the time of the code change, submitted a letter to the file that said that was, in fact, the board’s intent.

But their opinions did not sit well with a number of speakers at last month’s hearing, including Scott Strough and Simon Harrison, real estate brokers who already have offices on Main Street or nearby. They argued that the village board had expressly sought to limit the number of real estate offices in the shopping district, with Mr. Strough going so far as to say he had a pay a premium to rent his own space.

“Obviously they don’t want any more real estate offices in town because it is more competition,” said Mr. Downes.

The board will issue a formal determination on the application at its September 23 meeting.

The Express moved to second floor offices in the rear of its building, which have an entrance at 22 Division Street, in the spring.

Sagaponack Leads Pack of Nation’s Most Expensive Small Towns

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By Georgia Suter

Despite declining home sale values throughout most of the country, the East End’s small village of Sagaponack has weathered the recession remarkably well. Last week’s Business Week magazine identified the historic, ocean-side area as being the most expensive in the country, with median home sale prices in 2009 hitting $4,421,458, compared to $174,000 throughout the rest of the nation.

Evan Kulman, Senior Vice President of Corcoran Real Estate Group, commented on the area’s enduring real estate and land value, noting that his company is recently seeing a lot of activity in the sleepy village — numerous homes are expected to hit the market in the next few months. Currently, Corcoran Real Estate Group has a pre-construction property on Gibson Lane in Sagaponack that speaks to the area’s pricey nature. At 7,500 square feet with ocean views, the property hasn’t yet broken ground, but it’s currently listed at $8,450,000. Kulman anticipates that as soon as construction begins on the project, demand for the parcel may increase and the value may likely rise.

Business Week is quick to narrow in on profiling the type of residents that are drawn to the small village– chairman of the Renco Group Ira Rennert being one wealthy buyer that built a mansion in Sagaponack, on 63 acres, in 2004. That year, the New York Times estimated the worth of his 29-bedroom home, called “Fair Field,” to be more than $170 million. Many of the area’s home buyers hail from Manhattan, and the recent Wall Street bonus season has been seen to have trickled favorably down to the East End, bringing new clients and instigating a bit of a buying surge. Kulman notes that the majority of their market comes from the New York City buyers, and that most of their clients are Manhattan residents.

When asked about the steady attraction that Sagaponack holds, compared to other surrounding areas of the East End , Kulman comments on the small size of the village, which, in turn, means fewer homes that are more exclusive. “Many homes don’t trade often,” he states of the property in the area, and the property is continually sought after “because of the beauty of Sagaponack and because of it being understated.” The small village, up until the 1970s, abounded with potato fields and has been described as having had a laid-back community of farmers and writers such as Kurt Vonnegut.

Beate Moore, the Senior Vice President of Sotheby’s Realty, shares similar observations on Sagaponack’s strong real estate market, stating that she’s recently seen closings that reflect the village’s pricey rank. Moore noted that Sotheby’s recently closed a property on Gibson Lane for $19 million. Another listing closed on Hedges Lane in Sagaponack for $14 million in the past couple months.

“There’s been a huge pick up in activity,” she stated. Of the area’s rebound, Moore added “There were eight sales in December, and December is usually one of our slowest months, so it was a nice surprise.”  Additionally, Sotheby’s recently sold a piece of land shy of one acre, with nothing built on it, for $3 million. “Sagaponack is highly thought upon,” Moore said.

Business Week’s real estate summary points out that the small village of Sagaponack isn’t the only thriving housing market on the East End. Long Island’s Nassau and Suffolk County accounted for more than half of the fifty most expensive small towns in America, with Water Mill coming in at number six– its median home sale price being $2,238,676, and Bridgehampton coming in at number eight with its median at $2,081,717. Also representing the East End in Business Week’s survey of the 50 Most Expensive Towns of the United States were Wainscott, which ranked at 13th place, Quogue at 30th place, East Hampton North at 42nd place and North Haven at 48th place.