Members Club Proposed for Ditch Plain

At former East Deck, amenities could include restaurant, spa, below-grade parking
The East Deck Motel, long a visual cornerstone of Ditch Plain, is about to be converted into a private membership beach club, according to plans submitted to the East Hampton Town Planning Board. T.E. McMorrow

The East Hampton Town attorney’s office has given the green light to a legal proposal that will  allow  the owners of the old East Deck Motel at Ditch Plain, Montauk, to apply to the planning board for its conversion into an elaborate beach club.

According to documents and plans filed with the planning board by Biondo and Hammer, a Montauk legal firm representing the owners, the beach club will be a private membership club, not open to the public. The maximum number of members would be 179, members would be allowed to have guests, and the hours would be 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Before bringing the application to the board for site plan approval, or working on the rationale for the various permits and variances that would be needed, the project had to get over a major hurdle: The town code appears to require that private clubs be not-for-profit.

The East Deck was sold last fall to ED40, a limited liability corporation registered in Delaware, for  roughly $15 million. In a letter to Tom Preiato, the town’s chief building inspector, dated Jan. 27, Richard A. Hammer explained the solution his firm had come up with. New ownership would be set up involving two entities. “The general partner will be a New York not-for-profit corporation that is not yet formed.” It “would be responsible for club operations.” A new partnership, affiliated with the original L.L.C., would maintain ownership of the site. 

The application for site plan approval, which can now go forward, describes amenities that include “a hot tub, shower facilities, a restaurant, game room, exercise room, spa, and several lounge areas, as well as storage areas for club items.” A large, circular outdoor jaccuzi is also proposed.

One of the more unusual aspects of the proposal is a below-grade parking area to accommodate 36 of 100 proposed parking spaces, even though the area is flood prone. The below-grade parking would be at the eastern edge of the property, accessed through Deforest Road.

The new facility is to be an over 12,000-square-foot, two-story structure running slightly diagonally across the property, starting roughly at the intersection of Deforest Road and the Ditch Plain Road parking lot, where the old office is now.

The building is to parallel a roughly 173-foot-long pool and would apparently be the hub of the facility, with a sauna, steam room, massage room, and several changing rooms, as well as necessary plumbing and electrical equipment. It would have over 5,500 square feet of decking, and what is described as a circular “grand stair.”

According to the application, deliveries are to be made only off-hours, with only small trucks and vans allowed. They would enter the below-grade parking lot, with off-loading beneath the building.

Current certificates of occupancy for the site are for 28 hotel units, although the actual usage is hard to determine. According to Dave Brown, the town’s chief fire marshal, the rooms do not have a formal capacity number under fire code.

Existing total lot coverage, which includes construction such as driveways, is 38,395 square feet. This will be more than doubled to over 93,000 square feet, over two acres, but still under the allowed 119,000 square feet of coverage, according to a survey prepared by the Saskas Surveying Company of East Hampton.

A local man, Scott Bradley, has been the face of the new company. He has spoken freely with the press, but has declined to reveal the names of those who formed ED40 and bought the property, as has Mr. Hammer. Registering a limited liability corporation in Delaware allows an ownership group to mask the identity of those who actually put up the money for deals since it is one of the few states that do not require disclosure of partners.

The plan will now be examined by the East Hampton Town Planning Department, after which the site plan review of the proposal by the East Hampton Planning Board will begin. John Jilnicki, the attorney for the planning board, was on vacation this week and unavailable to answer questions.