The Town Board of Southampton is taking steps to curb what they say is the endless party at a gaggle of East Quogue share houses-made famous recently as one of the tangier locales in Barbara Kopple’s otherwise sweet “reality mini-series,” The Hamptons .
DavidGilmartin,thetownattorneyfor Southampton, which has jurisdiction in East Quogue, said that a group of 10 or 11 share houses along Jeffrey Place and Laura Court “are wreaking havoc in the neighborhood,” and that the Town Board has authorized him to “commence enforcement action” against them.
“We’re bringing a lawsuit against the owners and the people in the house to force them to come into compliance with the town code,” Mr. Gilmartin told The Observer .
Town codes prevent the operation of share houses in the quiet hamlet on the western end of that trendy stretch of Long Island’s south shore loosely known as “the Hamptons.” But that didn’t prevent Josh Sagman, a proprietor of one of the houses, from putting himself and his place at Jeffrey Lane front-and-center in Ms. Kopple’s documentary.
According to lawyers for Mr. Sagman’s neighbors, the house at 6 Jeffrey Lane is owned by a corporate entity called JBJ Enterprises. The three principals in the company-Josh Sagman, Brandon Estrin and Jason Kovar-are also the principals in another business venture called Perfect Oxygen, purveyors of shots of scented pure oxygen for consumption at bars and clubs.
Calls to Perfect Oxygen to reach Mr. Sagman were not immediately returned. Gary Henkus, who was listed as a contact for 6 Jeffrey Lane on the Web site, summershares.com, declined to comment on the status of the share house.
Last summer, Messrs. Sagman, Estrin and Kovar rented shares in the house and advertised a vigorous social schedule stretching from the May 27 “Color War” ice-breaker (“Included will be sports, drinking events, and maybe even a little nudity … hahaha-Hosted by Josh Sagman,” the Web announcement reads) to the Labor Day “Jamaican Me Crazy” reggae party.
Rarely enforced town codes did not seem to put a damper on things, from the looks of Ms. Kopple’s documentary.
“People always get taken to court for the parking, or if they’re throwing a party late-night,” said David Shapiro, a longtime Southampton resident. “They don’t actually take people to court for overoccupancy. You have to really piss them off to get them to do that.”
Consider it done. But just being pissed off won’t be enough to enable the town to morph into a gentle gerontocracy. Part of the problem, according to Quogue mayor Thelma Georgeson, is that it’s difficult to prove that something is a share house.
“We allow six unrelated persons to rent a house,” Ms. Georgeson explained. So proving that there are more people renting than that can be difficult. “Every Memorial Day weekend, we do our patrol to see which houses are share houses,” Ms. Georgeson explained. “You pretty soon know which ones they are. But the burden of proof is on us that this is a share house, and that’s difficult to do.”
That won’t stop neighbors and town officials from trying.
Watching the matter closely are Mr. Sagman’s Quogue neighbors, who have retained Southampton attorney Lisa Kombrink to represent them.
According to Ms. Kombrink, as of May 28 shares were still being offered in the Jeffrey Lane house for this summer through a Web site, 6jeffreylane.com. On that site, the ad explained that the house was being sponsored for the summer by Tanqueray and Moët & Chandon.
But that Web site has since been taken down, and according to Patti Schickram, a spokeswoman for both spirit manufacturers, the sponsorship was a hoax to begin with.
“Don’t believe the hype,” she said. “We were not in any way a sponsor of those houses. We had nothing to do with it.”
Local brokers are even starting to think twice about facilitating share houses for rent or purchase. Frank Austria, an associate broker at JBG Realty in East Quogue, said they cause brokers too much of a headache to be worthwhile.
“Summer is a nuisance, really,” he said. “With a sale, you do it once, you’re done. With rentals, there’s always someone complaining. There’s always somebody getting drunk and making it miserable for everybody else.”
If that sounds good to you, however, there are still shares in the house available on summersharehouse.com, which describes a nine-bedroom manse with six and a half bathrooms, a pool, a tennis court, a basketball court, a volleyball court, a pool table-and that famous 12-person Jacuzzi you saw in the documentary.
Your name on the town’s suit is complimentary.
Still licking his wounds after his stunning K.O. at the hands of fellow heavyweight Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson has retreated to his corner-and he’s unlikely to find another roost soon.
Not long after The Observer reported that Mr. Tyson put in a bid on a $10.75 million canary-yellow townhouse on East 64th Street, figuring that if he emerged victorious in Memphis, the payday would cover both his myriad debts as well as his proffer for a little piece of the Upper East Side, other reports began to emerge. Mr. Tyson was said to be eyeing a spread in Denmark and, more recently, Crocodile Dundee star Paul Hogan’s Cedar Springs estate in Byron Bay, Australia. Even that place, with its relatively modest price tag, however-for $4.5 million, you get a mansion on 325 acres of beachfront land, where Iron Mike could indulge his storied love of zoo animals with the freely roaming wallabies and black cockatoos-appears out of reach for Mr. Tyson, as press reports have indicated that the owner of that place also thought the purchase was dependent on Mr. Tyson knocking out Mr. Lewis.
As for the Upper East Side townhouse, Mr. Tyson’s interest there seems to have evaporated faster than you can say “no rematch.”
“I haven’t heard from him,” said Austrian developer Peter Cervinka, who received a bid from Mr. Tyson on the East 64th Street house last month. “But I guess since he lost, it’s my assumption that we won’t hear from him again.”
At the end of two three-day shoppingsprees in Paris,NewYork investment banker Robert Novogratz and his wife Cortneyhadenough bootytofillsix storageunitsin Chel-sea. Their take included a huge 300-year-oldcircular windowfroma crumbling French cathedral; an enormous analog clock from a Parisian train station; and an antique set of stained-glass double doors.
The idea was to decorate their new Soho townhouse at 24 Thompson Street in a style as eclectic and funky as the neighborhood-a neighborhood in which there are only a handful of townhouses to begin with.
Thirty-five subcontractors later and their mission accomplished, Mr. Novogratz and his wife have put the place on the market for $8.9 million. They’re hoping to repeat the process as soon as possible.
“It’s both a business and it’s become our passion,” said Mr. Novogratz, who, in a partnership with his wife and a professional draftsman, designed this townhouse from the ground up, starting in November 2000. It had always been their plan to sell it off as soon as they’d had their fun decorating it.
“It’s a ton of fun to go to Paris with a nice-sized check and buy what you want,” Mr. Novogratz said.
That check was made possible by their past forays into real estate. Five years ago, they gut-renovated a place in Chelsea, and about two years ago they did the same to 22 Thompson Street, the house right next-door to this one. And as they renovate more and more places-the rent on the first two townhouses is enough to cover the mortgages on them “three times over”-their budget for new construction gets higher and higher.
“We just got a bigger budget and got more creative and funkier as we went,” said Mr. Novogratz.
Now they’re ready to sell this place-and parlay the profits into an even more ambitious project.
It all began as a hobby for the Novogratzes, but quickly turned into a 30-hour-a-week undertaking. During his lunch break, Mr. Novogratz would jog from Wall Street to Thompson Street to direct construction. On the weekends, he and his wife would scour the city for hidden or overlooked treasures. All this while the two were looking after their four children-including one set of twins.
The five-story townhouse-on Thompson Street right off Grand Street-has a gray cement façade, approximately 5,000 square feet of space indoors and a 1,000-square-foot roof terrace. None of the ceilings are lower than 15 feet, and the walls have been done in warm shades of yellow, salmon, pink and blue. The first floor feels the most cramped, as it shares space with a one-car garage and a small patio. But the second-floor kitchen and dining area sprawls luxuriously across an open-floor plan, an 18-foot-long bar accentuating the room’s outsize length. Light pours in through that 300-year-old cathedral window on one side, and three arched window-doors span the width of the other. The Novogratzes salvaged upwards of 10,000 Minten tiles from a decaying old cancer hospital on West 94th Street and hired a mosaic specialist to re-plaster them on their kitchen floor.
The children’s floor, two levels above, has a working pinball machine and an impressive phalanx of ceramic ball-players and action heroes with bouncing heads. There’s more for the kids: The fifth floor has a children’s playroom, nanny’s quarters and laundry facilities, as well as another huge circular cathedral window. The terrace level has Moroccan-style light fixtures and offers 270-degree views of lower and upper Manhattan.
Does Mr. Novogratz feel any pang of regret now that he’s selling the place that he and his wife worked so hard to perfect?
“You hate giving up a great place like this,” he said. “But to be able to do that again is worth it.”
Sara Gelbard, Meredith Hatfield and Joseph Dwyer of the Corcoran Group have the exclusive listing.
upper east side
51 East 78th Street
Two-bedroom, two-bathroom co-op.
Asking: $775,000. Selling: $785,000.
Maintenance: $895; 43 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: four weeks.
TROMPE L’OEIL TRADER This Wall Street trader spent his down time upgrading from armchair carpenter to woodworking craftsman, installing staircases, arched-barrel ceilings and hardwood floors-with his bare hands-in this turn-of-the-century first-floor duplex (with a patio garden) on 78th Street off Madison Avenue. “It wasn’t an apartment,” said Halstead senior vice president Louise Phillips, the exclusive agent on the deal, by way of complimenting the trader’s handiwork. “You could tell it was somebody’s home.” Little grace notes weren’t beyond his ken, either: To dress up the cabinet concealing a Murphy bed, he bought a load of vintage books at the Strand, sawed off the spine ends and glued them onto the wall to create a trompe l’oeil bookcase. When it came time for the seller to depart from the old clubhouse, finding the right person to appreciate his work turned out to be a matter of luck. The buyer, another Wall Street guy, hadn’t even considered the East Side, but after he’d lost several bidding wars across the park, his fiancée (who saw an item about this apartment in The New York Times ) dragged him over to take a look. Her intended was surprised at what he saw there: It definitely wasn’t the froufrou Mario Buatta feel he’d expected. “It was masculine,” said Ms. Phillips of the dark, heavy woodwork. “But it was done with tender, loving care. You could soften it up easily.” Which is why these two quickly placed a bid-and this time, won.
14 East Fourth Street (the Silk Building)
One-bedroom, two-bathroom condo.
Asking: $899,000. Selling: $899,000.
Charges: $705. Taxes: $570.
Time on the market: four months.
THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT When the buyers of this East Village apartment fled their old place near Ground Zero, they were forced to abandon most of their prized orchid collection, but were hoping to find a place that would allow them to start growing again. Anna Hetzel, a sales agent with William B. May, immediately thought of a 1,250-square-foot triplex condo at the Silk Building (where Britney Spears lives) whose top floor had a greenhouse. “It was really important for them to have this outdoor space,” said Ms. Hetzel. The apartment has an odd configuration: The master bedroom is on the first floor, the living room and kitchen are on the second. A winding staircase from that floor leads to the garden level above. The buyers-they’re in their late 20′s; he’s an investment banker, she’s a freelance multimedia consultant-aren’t feeling the apartment’s prewar frills. So they plan to do away with the wood paneling and delicate moldings, and bring in a little bare, sheer, stainless-steel modernity. Edward Ferris of William B. May worked with Ms. Hetzel on the deal.
28 Old Fulton Street (the Eagle Warehouse)
Two-bedroom, two-bathroom co-op.
Asking: $619,000. Selling: $601,500.
Maintenance: $916; 50 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: two months.
HEARTHLESS Before a developer carved apartment units out of this Brooklyn Heights warehouse in 1980, the building served as a storage facility for The Brooklyn Eagle , which was published daily for 114 years, until 1955. Writing about the building for The New York Times in 1995, Christopher Gray said, “This medieval brick fortress recalls the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, with a massive entry arch, barred windows and a machicolated cornice.” Apartments in the seven-story building have high ceilings, exposed wooden beams and gorgeous views of the river and the Manhattan skyline beyond-and electric stoves. The couple in their early 30′s who bought the place “loved it so much, but when they saw it didn’t have gas stoves, they almost didn’t buy it,” said Jim Rigney, a vice president with the Corcoran Group. Desperate to resolve their dilemma, the couple found an electric contraption that mimics the heating action of a gas stove. “If you can get to the moon, I guess you can get an electric stove that heats up similar to gas,” said a puzzled Mr. Rigney.