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Jul 16, 2014 11:11 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Underground Basketball Court, Movie Theater Highlight Plans For New Sagaponack Home

Jul 16, 2014 11:41 AM

Sagaponack Village officials mixed bemused smirks with furrowed brows this week as they reviewed a proposal for what would be the second-largest private estate in the tiny village—which already features one of the nation’s biggest homes.

The house proposed would utilize the maximum square footage allowed by village building codes, just over 12,200 square feet of primary and accessory structures, and would nearly double that space below ground, with a cavernous lower level that actually would be larger than the footprint of the main house. Extending more than 20 feet below the surface, it would boast a basketball court, movie theater and viewing windows into the bottom of an outdoor swimming pool.

Constructing the sprawling underground areas would require engineers to excavate 17,500 cubic yards of sand and soil from the property—more than 20 tons. Much of the sandy material would be used to rebuild dunes along the property’s oceanfront, while the rest would be used for re-grading certain areas of the property during the development.

Before the foundation could be poured, the excavated hole would then have to be “de-watered”: tens of millions of gallons of groundwater would have to be pumped from the shallow water table. The de-watering—although it is possibly not even the biggest such effort in the village’s development history—would require more than 850,000 gallons of water to be pumped from the ground each day for two months. The water would have to be retained on the property and then returned to the ground once the foundation was poured.

A similar de-watering storage at a new oceanfront mansion on Gibson Lane was overwhelmed and collapsed during the July 4 rains from Hurricane Arthur, setting off a scramble of heavy machinery to bolster the retaining walls.

Village Engineer Drew Bennett warned of a few potential problems from the de-watering, beyond the retention issues, including possible saltwater intrusion into the water table and impacts on groundwater supplies to neighboring properties. He said the village should confirm that all of the neighbors are hooked up to Suffolk County Water Authority supply mains.

The property, reportedly purchased by an unnamed hedge fund manager through an LLC, totals 18.4 acres. The property was purchased by STEM Partners LLC in 2011 for $38 million.

By acreage, it is just a fraction of the infamous 63-acre estate owned by Ira Rennert, two properties to the west on Daniels Lane. But as the village has been increasingly chopped up into as many buildable parcels as possible, the long, narrow property would constitute, village officials believe, the second-largest single-house property in the town. A proposal for a single house on a 44-acre lot between Mr. Rennert’s compound and the Stem Partners property is pending before the village, but officials are working on the assumption that that property will be further subdivided in the future to create three additional lots along the oceanfront.

At more than 18 acres, the Stem Partners property could technically be subdivided into as many as four lots, though 65 percent of the property would then have to be preserved as agricultural land.

The construction of the house itself, which isn’t particularly remarkable among Sagaponack’s recent developments, wasn’t the Village Board’s biggest concern at Monday’s planning work session.

Despite the owner’s representatives offering to leave some 8 acres of the land wholly empty of any development, officials still groused at some of the plans for the landscape design. A “grande allee” lined with trees leading hundreds of feet back into the property, and a maze of orchards and ornamentally landscaped walkways leading throughout the property were wholly out of character with the few vestiges of the village’s rural, agrarian past that officials have labored to preserve where possible amid the tsunami of new development in recent years.

“It just looks so unnatural,” Village Trustee Lisa Thayer said.

Mr. Gaudiello noted that the plans for the allee had already been trimmed back since the first plans for the property were submitted last month, leaving a gap between the entrance gate and the start of the rows of trees, so as to lessen some of the impact on views across a neighboring farm field, which is protected by an agricultural easement.

“It’s much better, but it is still so insensitive to this area,” Village Mayor Don Louchheim said. “We’re trying to keep this somewhat rural look, and this is anything but. It is a grande allee, though.”

Mr. Gaudiello pointed out that there would be no driveway gates of the sort common at most new village estates, and said his client would be willing to push the start of the allee back another 75 feet if the village saw necessary. He also noted that the trees would be less of a view obstruction than hedges, like those used at most estates, would be.

The village mayor acknowledged the considerations and said that every bit the row of trees is shortened would be better than if it weren’t, but he still questioned why such a feature is necessary in a house being built on oceanside farmland.

“It’s the unrelieved march of trees right down this road,” he said, “where the only purpose seems to be to stress someone’s importance.”

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I'm all for property rights, and if people wanna spend their money on stupid crap go for it. But once you start screwing with natural resources and dynamic natural systems, someone has to put their foot down. Take this for example:

Constructing the sprawling underground areas would require engineers to excavate 17,500 cubic yards of sand and soil from the property—more than 20 tons. Much of the sandy material would be used to rebuild dunes along the property’s oceanfront,

Ok, ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 16, 14 12:38 PM
4 members liked this comment
And let me get this straight... the Mayor is offended by the desire of the homeowner to plant TREES. But when the village's own engineer says, Oh btw salt-water intrusion may occur, the walls could collapse and groundwater supplies of other property owners could be affected, he doesn't bat an eye?

What the HLLLLL is wrong in Sagaponack?

"The village mayor acknowledged the considerations and said that every bit the row of trees is shortened would be better than if it weren’t, ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 16, 14 12:46 PM
I think the rows of no parking signs that are on every street in Sagaponack take away from it's so called Rural character. But then, Louchheim owns this paper in addition to being Mayor of Sagapoanack and uses the paper to push his own agenda and self importance......... Nice work Don!
By G (342), Southampton on Jul 16, 14 1:44 PM
Don Louchheim has not had any ownership interest in the Southampton Press for more than 15 years. And while I am his son, I am not his surrogate and this website and associated newspapers does not "push his agenda" whatever you believe that agenda may be.
By Joe Louchheim, Publisher (9), Sagaponack on Jul 16, 14 2:05 PM
Ostentatious displays of wealth and power define aristocracy. Qualities this country rebelled against, and sought to eliminate.

Fill in the blanks where you may.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jul 16, 14 3:19 PM
And yet they have never stopped occurring. Take one look at the mansions of Newport, or the estates along the Hudson River and look at how people clamor to look ooh and ahh at them while on their vacations fantasizing about what it would have been like to be so rich. Don't act like this is new Z
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 16, 14 9:15 PM
I doubt Z thinks it is new. He has railed against it from his first post I would imagine.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Jul 16, 14 11:03 PM
It's like I say:

In 10,000 years people haven't changed. Just the scenery. Maybe someday material wealth will no longer be the driving force behind humanity's existence. I won't be holding my breath...
Jul 17, 14 11:16 PM appended by Mr. Z
Isn't Newport a museum, because the structure of the society which created them, or the estates failed to be sustainable? Additionally, didn't the structure of the economic system which created such displays fail? Nothing like repeating mistakes...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jul 16, 14 11:16 PM
Go to China or Russia. you can get close to that.
By realistic (472), westhampton on Jul 17, 14 9:17 AM
By SisBoomBonacker (106), Hamptons on Jul 16, 14 6:18 PM
I wish these hedge fund people would go away. Why isn't East Hampton Town and Southampton Town for that matter purchasing these parcels for preservation. Let's keep our natural resources. Where's the community preservation fund money? Quality of life is going down hill out here. Every time another monster house gets built the area loses more of its spirit. What a shame.
By rvs (106), sag harbor on Jul 17, 14 12:49 AM
It takes a willing seller. The owner could get more money on the open market then by selling to the town. The Town can't use CPF for eminent domain.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 17, 14 9:08 AM
So the guy pays $38 million for the property and is probably going to pay north of $100K a year in property taxes and all of a sudden everybody in the village who hasn't contributed a dime feels entitled to tell him how to use his property. As for the salt water intrusion, that can be circumvented by pumping the water back into the ground between the hole and the ocean.
By bird (829), Southampton on Jul 17, 14 8:41 AM
1 member liked this comment
So a ****load money makes the wanton destruction of our home and once fertile farmland okay?

By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jul 17, 14 9:02 AM
He's not destroying YOUR house or defiling YOUR farmland. He's building HIS house on HIS land which at some point the farmer decided to sell so HE could have a **** load of money. And by the way the house meets zoning and OMG, he wants to plant trees!!!
By bird (829), Southampton on Jul 22, 14 2:31 PM
Yea but he's threatening the quality of our drinking water and potentially compromising our public beaches so let's not pretend it's innocuous.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 22, 14 3:30 PM
As noted earlier the water instead of being ponded could be pumped back into the ground between the hole and the ocean alleviating the issue with the drinking water. The construction if done within normal guidelines for such projects would have no effect on public beaches.
By bird (829), Southampton on Jul 26, 14 2:10 PM
"850,000 gallons of water to be pumped from the ground each day for two months." Is that right? 850,000 gallons PER DAY? That's nearly 600 gallons per minute and 51,000,000 gallons over two months?! I'm guessing its really a total of 850,000 over the two months.

Regardless, it seems to me that pumping that much water out of the ground to build the foundation is just asking for trouble from the start. Given the reference to a similar project that had a retaining wall collapse due to heavy ...more
By Rich Morey (378), East Hampton on Jul 17, 14 11:12 AM
Don't think it's a typo... you would be amazed at how quickly water will fill in a void. The water table is very high there and water seeks the lowest point. Remember, the hole that's being excavated is 20 feet deep and requires the removal of 17,500 cubic yards of sand. To put that into perspective, it's approximately 700 TRI-Axel trucks (22 wheelers) filled with sand. To put it another way - 17,500 cubic yards of space is equivelant to 3,500,000 gallons of water. It's entirely conceivable ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 17, 14 12:46 PM