In East Hampton, an Oceanfront Fixer Asks $64 Million

The owners of this somewhat notorious East Hampton oceanfront property, Norman and Helene Stark, fought for years with the local village architectural board in their attempt to tear down the existing house and rebuild larger. Unfortunately for them, the property sits in a coastal erosion zone and, hence, their extensive efforts were stymied by East Hampton Village’s stringent architectural rules, setbacks about water, pyramid laws, and suchlike. So anyone who might wish to shell out $64 million for the place, listed with Hedgerow Exclusive Properties, needs to keep this skirmish and the property’s limitations in mind. Of course, as with any property, even with a high-end Hamptons oceanfront estate, there are upsides and downsides, though it’s quite likely a skilled architect could make a real showplace out of this property, as long as next owners don’t expect to rebuild larger.

First, the good stuff. This is an oceanfront property just off tony Lily Pond Lane where nearby estates are owned by Mort Zuckerman, Jon Bon Jovi and David Geffen. The house sits high on the dune so there are beautiful views from many of the principal rooms. (In some oceanfront properties in the Hamptons, even in some of the most expensive, the dunes are high enough that residents can barely see the ocean from inside.) At about 4,600 square feet with four bedrooms and six baths, the main residence is spacious if not especially large by Hamptons standards.

Outside, there’s a pool and spa, plus a separate six-room guesthouse with three bathrooms and several entertainment lounges, one with several pinball machines and another with a pool table and kitchenette. There’s also a koi pond with waterfall and what is the only lighted private tennis court in all of East Hampton. If one does not already exist, it can be difficult to impossible to obtain the necessary approvals to build a guesthouse on an oceanfront property. Therefore, the fact the Stark spread has a huge guesthouse grandfathered in does count as another great feature of the property.

So far, so good. But of course, there are some downsides, and, let’s be honest, this fixer is likely a teardown for anyone rich enough to consider dropping $64 million on a house. Of course, “teardown” is a subjective term and what anyone might want in their house is based on their personal tastes. Indeed, many people thought that Bernie Madoff’s painfully dated 1980s house in Montauk would be torn down after it was sold in 2009 for $9.4 million to developer Steve Roth and theater producer Daryl Roth. But actually, architect Thierry Despont did a fab job updating it. (The old Madoff place is actually on the market at $17.9 million after it was unsuccessfully listed in 2018 at $21 million.)

Perhaps the next owners of the Starks’ home should call Mr. Despont, because this place is also stuck in the 80s. From fenestration to furniture, the main house and guesthouse are an incoherent jumble of styles, inside and out. The lumpy sofas in the living room are upholstered in cliché shell-print fabrics, the frumpy floral drapes in the den are embellished with tassels, and the primary suite’s all-white bathroom is decidedly modern with a huge skylight. Also, as plum as Lily Pond Lane may be, the location is only good-ish in that it’s very close to Main Beach, East Hampton’s busy public beach, and there will typically be hundreds of near-naked people on the sand in front of the house on any given Saturday in the summer.

The Starks, who made their money in pharmaceuticals, and unsuccessfully tried to sell the East Hampton property in 2014 and 2016 at $75 million, stand to haul in a substantial fortune should they get even a fraction of their current asking price: They purchased the house in 1994 for $1.34 million. The couple also own several apartments in New York, including a duplex penthouse at United Nations Plaza.

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