Gurney's Inn
July 04, 2007

Realty Takes

Surrounded By Conspicuous Consumption

Well, many people in the business are taking the Fourth off, partying, going away, staying in, and chilling out for a competitive summer frenzy to line up the serious customers who, having withstood the season, will buy in the fall. Town and Country had a thing at Bostwick's to celebrate its newest arrivals: Alicia Ward (Cook Pony Farm/Corcoran), Rick Slater (Alan Schneider/Corcoran), Kris Salvatore (Alan Schneider/Corcoran) and Laura Mott (Prudential Douglas-Elliman) – as I said competitive, which may be CEO Judi Desiderio's middle name.

Billy Joel is safely ensconced in Roy Scheider's former Sagaponack oceanfront beach house. Scheider and family are somewhere in Sag Harbor; Lorraine Bracco hosted The Retreat Night at Hampton Hall, William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman are renting in Southampton, (lord, I loved him and Baldwin in State and Main) and Alec Baldwin was at The Palm celebrating the East Hampton Town Democratic Committee.

There are big doings near Two Mile Hollow Beach in East Hampton. That stretch of vacant land across from Cross Highway, from Further Lane down Two Mile Hollow Lane, two large lots with ocean frontage were transferred to the same buyer for a total of $103 million, according to closing reports from Suffolk Research. The deeds were recorded on June 27. Now there's a hefty reward for the Community Preservation Fund.

Last week Realty Takes mentioned the sub-prime mortgage collapse – we pegged it as a reality check for the East End. Well here's another one amidst the almost rabid conspicuous consumption area in the northeast:

Habitat for Humanity was recently awarded with a proclamation from Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy for building more than 100 homes for the working poor. Statistics show thousands of low-income working families and their children are living in substandard rental housing in Suffolk. Habitat for Humanity builds homes with no-profit and zero-interest mortgages.

Yeah, right! "Now run and get me the new Apple cell phone/iPod whatever and I want it right now."

Houses At Sagaponack is alive and well, they tell us, "entering another busy summer . . . excited to kick it off with the completion of the house designed by Stan Allen. This will be followed by the Tsao & McKown House, also in July, and the Smith Miller Hawkinson House in October." They hope we – I take it to mean my readers as well – can join them on Saturday, July 6 at 6 p.m. for the unveiling of the Stan Allen House.

This event is jointly hosted by the Houses At Sagaponack and the Silas Marder Gallery. In addition to artwork, we will have furniture from the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York City on display."

(Who is providing the earplugs for that busy weekend? One smart writer once suggested real estate signs go on the roofs, so that passengers on low-flying take-offs and arrivals could view them. Maybe the patterns have changed since then.)

Talk about conspicuous consumption (I'm in my old CCNY onlooker-to-the-radicals mode), this from Business Week, writing about the most expensive homes in the world. We – the Eastern End of Suffolk– came in third with the Rennert spread in Sagaponack.

The approximate value is $185 million. Size: 63 acres, 110,000 square feet (66,000 square foot house). Features: 29 bedrooms; 39 bathrooms; 3 dining rooms; 3 swimming pools; 164-seat theater; recreation pavilion with basketball court, gym, and bowling alley; two courtyards with fountains; English formal gardens; guardhouses and a power plant.

And to argue in the interest of level playing fields that conspicuous consumption is not solely an East End phenomenon, for #1 we have: Mukesh Ambani, chairman, Reliance Industries Mumbai, India. Cost to build: $1 billion. Size: 570,000 square feet, 27 floors (including six floors of parking for Ambani's 168 cars). Features: ceilings double the height of normal building ceilings; an entertainment floor including a 50-person movie theater; three floors of terrace gardens including an interpretation of the hanging gardens of Babylon; two floors with facilities for health and fitness; a two-floor guest apartment; four floors of living space; three rooftop helipads; one floor for air traffic control.

And for the runner-up: Sheikh Hamad, Foreign Minister of the Gulf State of Qatar, in London: Approximate price: $197 million. Size: 20,000 square feet. Features: penthouse apartment; underground parking for 115 vehicles; private elevators to each residence with eye scanners; underground passageway to the nearby Mandarin Oriental Hotel; 24-hour hotel services; bulletproof windows; views of Hyde Park; wooden baths; marble work surfaces; floor-to-ceiling fridge; panic room.

Now how can I find 12 more words to reach 800? Have a happy and safe summer. Drive carefully. How's that?

India and London notwithstanding, East End real estate remains a very strange business.

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