It probably seemed like a pretty good idea at the time. Gilt City — a national luxury online discount service and subsidiary of Gilt Groupe — rented a 6,000-square-foot house at 36 Fithian Lane in the center of East Hampton Village and planned to sponsor star-studded events this month, beginning on Sunday with a swank dinner party hosted by the well-known Scotto family of Fresco by Scotto in Manhattan, with tickets at $75 a head. A portion of the proceeds was to go to the East Hampton Food Pantry.
Had the company checked in first with the East Hampton Village Board, it probably would have discovered that hosting a series of ticketed events — including the planned celebrity-centric screenings, yoga classes, dinners, and more at the same location — in a house zoned for single-family residential use is simply not permitted.
Initially, at the end of July, the village issued a single mass-gathering permit to Gilt City. But, said Larry Cantwell, the village administrator, “two more [requests] came in the next day.”
“Ultimately, I got my hands on their calendar,” he said. “That’s when all the bells and alarms started going off.”
Following a hastily scheduled village board meeting last Thursday, it was decided that the village would seek an injunction against the company, since the plans “would not be in keeping with our zoning codes,” said Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach.
It was not necessary for the village to go that far, as upon receipt of a legal letter from Linda Riley, the village attorney, Gilt City promptly agreed to shut down its East Hampton operations, effective immediately.
A press release about the “Hamptons House,” as it was called, dated July 27, can still be seen on the Gilt City Web site, offering an “assortment of outdoor and indoor curated summer experiences, . . . within walking distance of East Hampton village.”
The Mayor said he felt “very vindicated” by the company’s cooperative conduct.
“We raised a flag and they responded,” he said, adding that “this goes to the very core of what our wonderful village is all about.”
Jamie David, the senior manager of public relations and events at Gilt City, said that the happenings have been moved to a Bridgehampton site, although she could not be more specific at press time. She had no comment on the village’s action.
Although attempts to find the Hamptons House on the Gilt City Web site now get redirected to the company’s New York page, there are still events in the area for which Gilt City is selling tickets, including the Hampton Classic and Bridgehampton Polo.