Portrait of a Neighborhood

While neighborhoods surrounding it have gradually been gentrified, the Crossway has remained staunchly downscale
The modest houses on Huntington Crossway in Bridgehampton stand in stark contrast to much of the hamlet, where the average house price is $2.3 million, according to the real estate website Trulia. Debra Scott

The average house price in 11932, Bridgehampton’s ZIP code, is $2.3 million, according to Trulia, the real estate website. What, you thought it was higher? Commensurate with, say, next-door Sagaponack 11962, whose average is a whopping $8.6 million? It just may be that the teensy houses that dot the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike and another street you may not have known existed have almost singlehandedly brought the number down.

That other street is Huntington Crossway, which was not so long ago dubbed “Crack Alley” by locals because of drug activity on the block. The street, which runs north from the turnpike to Scuttlehole Road, land of horse farms and grapevines, has indeed been the location of many drug arrests. While neighborhoods surrounding it have gradually been gentrified, the Crossway has remained staunchly downscale.

Chris Burnside, a broker with Brown Harris Stevens in Bridgehampton, was kind enough to give a tour this past Monday of the neighborhood — not his usual more tony turf. He recalled how in the early ’90s he drove down the Crossway in a BMW and the car was pelted by a group of kids throwing something hard. “I didn’t know if it was rocks or beer cans or what,” he said. “It was scary.” Fortunately for him they were only snowballs.

A pioneering real estate agent purchased a parcel on the Crossway in 2004 for $300,000 and built a dramatically nicer house than her neighbors’. She lived in it for four years before selling for it for $975,000 in 2008. It was marketed partly by touting its “completely convenient location — minutes to either Sag Harbor or Bridgehampton.” True enough. But today it is still the only upscale house on the street.

A ride in Mr. Burnside’s Peugeot S.U.V. down the Crossway revealed minuscule, by Hamptons standards, ranch houses and capes, without basements, of roughly 800 to 1,000 square feet, mostly built in the 1960s. He pointed out that while some properties are fairly well maintained, most are not. Certainly none can be considered “landscaped,” with the exception of the agent’s former residence, which is cut off from its disheveled neighbors by hedges. Lawns are overgrown and appear to be mowed irregularly. A truck or two sits on lawns. One car has been raised above the grass to be worked on, in a front yard. Helter-skelter scraggly bushes form the only attempt at prettification.

But when, about halfway down the Crossway, Mr. Burnside turned west onto Caldwell Road, we suddenly entered a different world. This could be a street in upscale suburbia, Anywhere, U.S.A. Houses are beautifully landscaped with a variety of shade trees, attractive fencing, and the ubiquitous seaside hydrangea. They are two-story, gabled, and clad in cedar shingle.

Two nearly identical cul-de-sacs branch out from Caldwell. Houses in this neighborhood, many of them abutting the backyards of the Crossway’s houses, are valued in the high ones: $1.8 to $1.9 million.

One of these streets, Birchwood Lane, leads to a wooded six-acre area. Well, it won’t be wooded for long. On Monday, Greg Konner of Konner Development, which is developing 7 of the 11 lots, was overseeing his crew as a backhoe carved out a deep recession.

“We’re digging the first hole!” he said, clearly excited at the prospect. When finished, his seven houses will ask $1.9 million each.

His company has been instrumental in gentrifying other parts of Bridgehampton. After building houses on Norris and Narrow Lanes, he said, those neighborhoods rose in value.

The asking price is solid, according to Mr. Burnside. “They’re selling close to what it would cost to build.”

If you were to drive through this new development you would end up at another subdivision in progress, Barn and Vine. Instead, we took another route to this 50-acre parcel, which will contain 37 houses, bordering Channing Daughters Winery on the west and the houses of the leafy suburban grid on the east — by taking Meadows East, a new road just to the west of the Crossway off Scuttlehole, to Barn Lane. Between 5,800 and 7,200 square feet, these future abodes mark another rung up the price ladder: All are asking circa $3 million.

If sold now, the half-acre lots on the Crossway, with all houses considered teardowns, would go for between $400,000 and $450,000 apiece. A deal? Perhaps. Along with the houses on the turnpike south of Scuttlehole, these are some of the last true Hamptons bargains. But no one seems willing, yet, to take the plunge.

Would Mr. Burnside, who is also a builder and currently finishing a $5 million house about a half-mile away, consider building on the Crossway?

“I’m a location snob,” he said. He prefers to build big, beautiful, sustainable houses with all the amenities on untouched land. But, he acknowledged, the street would serve customers looking for a “starter home” very well.


Comments

To say I find this article offensive is an understatement. Mr. Burnside rides down a street and assumes a snowball is a rock or beer can, REALLY??? I am fairly sure snowballs are thrown at cars in almost any neighborhood with KIDS! Racism is alive and well on the East End and it is clear the Star is promoting it by publishing articles like this. Even though I don't live on the Crossway, I know many of the hard working families that do. If this author did anything but look down her nose with disdain, she may have found out that many of these families would love nothing else than to "prettify" but they are a bit busy working to put food on the table. With a bit a research, she may have learned that many of those modest houses were built by families that worked incredibly hard for the rich families, local businesses and farmers [many of whom have made millions selling their farm land]. I could pick apart almost every line of this article but suffice it to say that I will never be recommending Brown Harris Stevens nor can I believe the Editor of the East Hampton Star found this newsworthy.
Where do I start on this incredibly offensive article? Looks like racism is alive and well on the East End and the EH Star is here to give it a voice in this not so thinly veiled piece of terrible reporting. Mr. Burnside goes down a road where kids live and is hit by a snow ball and assumes he is being hit by either rocks or beer??? Really? Go down any block in the winter where kids live and I pretty much expect this outcome, never would I assume it would be rocks or beer. If this writer would have done any research instead of looking down her nose in disdain, she would find most of the families in those houses are hardworking and caring people who are doing their best to keep food on the table and are fighting to stay in the houses that their grandparents built in the 60's. These MODEST houses were built by people who worked most their lives for the rich families, local businesses and farmers [many of whom have made millions selling their farmland] in the surrounding area. I am sure they would love to "prettify" their houses but while they provide services for the rich, they are just barely making it work like SO many other families in our nation. I could go on and on but suffice it to say that I will be steering anyone I know clear of Brown Harris Stevens and especially Mr. Burnside and must say shame on you EH Star for even providing a venue for this drivel.
Wow what what a horribly written article! Isn't there other important news that can be reported instead of writing about a community that obviously the author has no clue about. Now it can not be denied that the Crossway was a spot in the past for drug activity. Perhaps what the author should have been writing about is how there is a decline in middle class and soon there will be no one left. Why not go and actually speak to the people who live there. Find out how many jobs a single parent has just to provide food for their children. Ask them how successful their children were and where are they now.. I bet you will find that majority of the people left on the "Crossway" are people who are working many jobs, probably catering to the upper class people living in the million dollar homes and may not have time to properly care for their lawns. Perhaps what the author should be concentrating on are issues like affordable housing, and how much not only on Huntington Crossway, but all of east end is losing their identity due to rising costs, and forcing a middle class that has grown up with as much as three generations out! What will happen when there is no more middle class? Do not make assumptions about a community unless you have solid proof and creditable resources. Shame on Brown Harris and Steven's for even being associated with this article. If any thing the community should be in an out rage because of such senseless, tacky reporting. May this article will wake up to the community and hopefully stir with in an opportunity to support one another, instead of living in the perfect bubbles that surround themselves with. If your neighbor is elderly or struggling with keeping their grass cut...extend a helping hand and help one another. Like i said..this is not a Crossway issue, it is a nationwide epidemic. Ok done with my rant. EH Star you should be ashamed of this piece of journalism, if thats what you wanna call it.
Despite the fact that I have been told by several sources that Debra Scott has been "temporarily" suspended [why not fired I ask}and that the EH Star has apologized, I see no such evidence online of this. Where is the apology to this community? What are the consequences for the editor who allowed this to be published? This apology should be the front and center on this web site where it belongs. Maybe it is time for advertisers and people who buy or subscribe to the EH Star to use their buying power and boycott a newspaper that supports the racist attitude that this article embodied.
Why should someone be fired for telling the truth? Just because someone takes offense ----and there is nothing here to be offended about --- it's the truth, the neighborhood has lower price homes, some people don't take care of their yards ---- there are crack arrests there === big deal. The writer should not be suspended or fired --- The newspaper only stated the truth ==== in the middle of these enormously expensive estates there are pockets of housing which are much less expensive. The writer was reporting the truth --- there is nothing racist about this article ---