“I gave up 60 percent of my development rights,” said Jay Bialsky, principal behind a forthcoming development on the waterfront in downtown Sag Harbor. The entire 1.94 acre site has sat for the past 13 years without any developer being able to get past the Architectural Review Board, but the now-approved plans made it through the Board in less than a year. Prior plans had ranged from building an 18-unit condo building, to 11 shingled single-family homes designed by Robert A. M. Stern, to a 13-unit building. But until now plans have either failed to get approval or sat languishing in the pipeline.
The new plans call for three separate units that blend condo sensibilities with a townhouse feel while also being the tallest buildings approved for Sag Harbor in the past hundred years, according to Bialsky. He was able to get a variance approved for the 44-foot tall building heights in part by decreasing the density of dwellings, promising to keep the street-facing portions consistent with the traditional look of Sag Harbor and agreeing to sell 1.25 acres of the site back to the town for $10.5 million so a public park could be developed instead of housing units. Bialsky plans to live in one of the three units and has listed the other two for $21.95 million and $19.95 million as pre-completion prices.
” ‘I’m not only going to be living here, I’m the developer here,” Bialsky recalls saying during the application process. ” ‘I’m also the contractor here. Where does someone come up and say I’m a willing to give up 60 percent of my development rights?’ They heard me loud and clear and that’s how I got my variances. They understood the alternatives were not in their favor. The whole downtown would have changed dramatically.”
“He could have put it in a Best Buy in there by zoning,” said Andre Kikoski, the architect for the project. “Or an Ikea or a Costco. No one leaves that kind of square footage on the table.”
Those prices will break records for downtown Sag Harbor by a considerable margin seeing as the highest price publicly listed is a $14.1 million home on a fifth of an acre lot that sold in 2018. There are some much higher priced sales surrounding the downtown area, such as this $73.7 million sale to a home built in 1843 on a four and a half acre lot, that is just over the bridge closer to what is considered North Haven. But for downtown, these two properties will top the public records considerably.
“When we were going through appraisals, says Bialsky, “the appraiser came in and said ‘okay, these are not condos, so I can’t use condos. But they’re taller than houses. So they are are houses, but there aren’t houses that have this height.’ I priced them what I feel was very fair, around $2,300 a square foot, and that is very reasonable in today’s market.”
Not only is the height of the buildings going to change the look of the shoreline, but they will be adjacent to the new 1.25 acre park which is next to the public Long Wharf, due to undergo a $3.8 million refurbishment project. Renowned landscape architect Ed Hollander, a part-time resident of Sag Harbor, has volunteered his services for the Long Wharf project and will also design the park and the remaining land on Bialsky’s property since the two have been longtime collaborators.
“Now you have three Ed Hollander landscape parcels all connected,” said Bialsky. “With these three pieces—mine, the park, and the Long Wharf—we are changing downtown Sag Harbor architecturally and aesthetically.”
“This will become a new icon as one crosses the bridge from Shelter Island,” added Kikoski. It sets a new standard for architecture in Sag Harbor.”
The brick front that faces Main Street came under special consideration as the biggest priority for maintaining a consistent feel with Sag Harbor homes–some of which are over two hundred years old. Kikoski and team decided to use handmade bricks imported from a company in Denmark that has been in existence since 1791. Called Peterson Brick, the tradesmen use clay deposits from the Baltic Sea—known for withstanding northern climates—and develop bespoke colors and profiles for different projects. The third building, which doesn’t face the street is more contemporary, and the same look was permissible for the rear of the other two buildings as well as pictured by this rendering of the main bedroom overlooking the harbor.
“The front two are more industrial. They’re buildings that clearly belong in Sag Harbor,” said Kikoski. “But from the back they face the Bay, the Harbor, they’re floor to ceiling glass, they’re quite dynamic. The third building is just free. It’s mostly glass. It is very transparent, it’s like a little pavilion. When we made that change to the final building, we had unanimous approval from ARB.”
Each unit comes with its own rooftop pool, underground parking for between four to six cars, and two deepwater boat docks (which are grandfathered in). The project is so new the website is still under construction, so for more information contact Bespoke Real Estate.