Though clichés might suggest that neighbors are usually more at war than at peace, in a reversal of the Hatfield and McCoy paradigm, two neighbors in Montauk have joined forces to combine their properties and sell them as one.
An unlikely match, Henry Druker is the principal of Questor Management Company, an investment firm, and Matt Goldman is a co-founder of the off-the-wall Blue Man Group. Yet, it is no surprise that a Wall Streeter with a background at such firms as Goldman Sachs and L.F. Rothschild and a periwinkle-hued performance artist would have come up with a creative solution.
Each partner owns 1.5-acre contiguous lots in the heart of Montauk’s so-called Gold Coast, on the rugged bluffs to the west of Gurney’s Inn off Old Montauk Highway. Mr. Goldman’s property on the west abuts Robert DeNiro’s, while Mr. Druker’s is a seagull’s cry from such high-profile neighbors as Jann Wenner and Ralph Lauren.
Their combined lot boasts 186 feet of ocean frontage edging a 55-foot elevation that not only provides wide ocean views, but also sanctuary from rising seas. The result of this partnership is a case of real estate synergy — one plus one equaling more than two.
Mr. Druker purchased his property as an investment in 2007, along with his friend Red McCombs, a co-founder of Clear Channel Communications, who still owns a share. His thinking, apparently, was that the value of oceanfront property would be sure to increase. He first put his property on the market circa 2009, around the time he learned that Mr. Goldman intended to sell his land, he said. It was then that the pair hatched their plan. By combining the lots, they figured, it would be advantageous all around.
A buyer of three acres would be able to put a much larger house in the middle of a large lot — allowing for more generous setbacks from both neighbors and the street. Larger setbacks would also keep the house farther from Mr. Goldman’s property. A parcel of that size would, of course, be more attractive to a certain breed of buyer — the “more is more” kind that is buying up oceanfront all over the East End.
As the inverse of a subdivision, where a large lot gets cut up, this would be sure to make the town planners happy too: One house, one family, one pool, one cesspool, one driveway equals less density. Pleasing the town was paramount for the landowners who commissioned an East Hampton architecture firm, Fleetwood and McMullan, to draw up a hypothetical site plan for a house measuring up to 10,000 square feet and presiding over a 60-foot pool.
No novices to marketing, the sellers intended to both spark the imaginations of prospective buyers (you can’t get a pool of that size on a smaller lot) and get the town’s Building Department to pre-approve their plans. The department inspected the plans and the lot and gave an all-clear. A buyer will have to get an actual building permit once a sale goes through.
It is worth noting that the property itself is listed not by one, but by two agents who partnered to better market it. “Any full-time agent with significant business has to have a team,” said Rylan Jacka, who shares the listing with Ed Bruehl, both in the Sotheby’s East Hampton office.
The combined lots were first listed with both Sotheby’s and Brown Harris Stevens last year, but Sotheby’s won the exclusive in May. The asking price is $12.5 million, a reasonable number considering that a 2.9-acre property directly to the east of Gurney’s sold for that price in June. Rumor has it that it was purchased by Ralph Lauren wishing to expand his holdings and create a deeper buffer between his land and that of the newly sold resort complex.
Mr. Druker is not new to finding creative solutions to real estate problems. In 2004 he bought land on Further Lane. He soon discovered that his neighbors were planning to build a modern house and considering tearing down their Fleetwood and McMullan Shingle Style traditional. Not wanting to see a good house destroyed, Mr. Druker had the house moved to his property, where it remains today.
“When looking for quality land, the larger the better,” Mr. Bruehl said. “It affords lots of privacy and one resident can build a really dramatic house. It’s a very creative deal.”
The bottom line may just be the simple fact that there are no other lots of that magnitude in the area. “It’s very hard to find oceanfront,” said Mr. Bruehl.