It seems that Jay Bialsky has played his cards right in Sag Harbor.
The Hamptons developer’s Residence B at 2 West Water Street has hit the market, asking nearly $25 million, a year before the unit is expected to be finished. It will follow residence A, which will be Bialsky’s home after its completion in November, and residence C, scheduled to be ready in May.
The homes boast curated interiors, expansive terraces and two private boat slips each.
“Four years ago, I owned an ugly white building,” Bialsky said. “Now you have a whole revitalization of the waterfront in Sag Harbor.”
But getting to this point has not been easy.
The “ugly white building” was a 14-unit co-op complex with some businesses on the first floor. Owner Bruce Davis — the founder of 1-800-Lawyers — put it on the market in 2011 for $12 million, but found no takers. After five years of price cuts, Greystone purchased the property for $4.94 million.
Greystone had grand plans to build 11 to 13 units, designed by architect Robert Stern. But the Sag Harbor Village Zoning Board of Appeals struck that down, deeming the proposed condos too massive and of little benefit to the community.
In the face of resistance, Greystone sold the parcels to Bialsky, who came up with the three-apartment plan but encountered similar issues. The board put pressure on Bialsky to downsize his project after he proposed building 11 feet higher and 15 feet closer to the street than allowed.
But within 12 months, Bialsky received approval for the tallest variances Sag Harbor had granted in 100 years.
It did not hurt his chances that in mid-2019 Bialsky orchestrated the sale of his parcel next door — at 1,3, 5 Ferry Road — to Southampton for $10.5 million. The land will become the John Steinbeck Waterfront Park. (The legendary writer had a retreat in Sag Harbor that recently hit the market.)
“I could’ve built over 60,000 square feet,” Bialsky said. “[But] I felt it was the right thing to do, the path of least resistance. I thought it was a win-win for both the villages of Sag Harbor and me as developer.”
Now, it’s possible to walk from the east side of Long Wharf along the boardwalk, onto the beach, through John Steinbeck Waterfront Park and up to 2 West Water Street. Bespoke, a brokerage focused on homes asking more than $10 million, has the listing for residence B.
Another potential action, from the Village of Sag Harbor, could make the project even more valuable.
Sag Harbor is reviewing zoning codes to preserve the “eclectic qualities” of the waterfront, according to the village’s website. Bialsky says it will likely prevent more buildings the size of his from being constructed, which would, in theory, ensure his properties remain the only local ones of their kind.
“Now, to me, that’s wonderful,” Bialsky said.
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