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Nov 5, 2013 9:23 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Deck Motel In Montauk Is Sold

Nov 5, 2013 4:48 PM

The East Deck Motel, a Montauk business known for its 1950s retro decor and proximity to the popular surfing beach Ditch Plains, has been sold, just a few months shy of turning 60, owner Alice Houseknecht said last week.

The 30-room Deforest Road motel on 5 acres of oceanfront was reportedly sold for $15 million to Vitaminwater billionaire Mike Repole, who wants to turn the property into a private surf club and relocate its pool, according to the website Curbed Hamptons.

Ms. Houseknecht declined to confirm the sale price, name of the buyer or discuss the new owner’s intentions.

“I would like to honor the wishes of the new owners,” she said.

She did say that the sale took place during the last week of October and that the motel housed its last guests on the night of October 14. The guests checked out the following day.

Two local real estate agents said they believed the sale was private. The motel had been on the market for several years.

Montauk Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Laraine Creegan this week said she had no information, nor did Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione, the East Hampton Town Board’s Montauk liaison.

“At this point, I have been involved with the operation of it and management of it for 37 years, and I am ready to get involved full-time in philanthropic work,” said Ms. Houseknecht, who is also a director of the Montauk Food Pantry and a director of the East End Foundation.

Her family has owned the East Deck for what would have been 60 years next year.

Ms. Houseknecht’s grandfather-in-law, Sam Cox, and father-in-law, Fred Houseknecht, bought the former Sunset Cottages on Navy Road after they were extensively damaged by Hurricane Carol in 1954, she said. They brought them over to Mr. Cox’s property on Ditch Plains, and “that’s how the East Deck began,” she said.

The motel derived its name simply as a way of distinguishing it from the Maisonettes, another motel her family owned and one that she said was the first motel in the hamlet.

There were hotels, of course, she said, but this was “where the average person could drive up in their car, spend a night or two and depart.” Both motels had decks, so the newer one, which was to the east, simply became known as “East Deck.”

The motel has 30 rooms, which includes a manager’s apartment. Twenty of the rooms are efficiencies, meaning they have kitchens, Ms. Houseknecht said. The other 10 were basic motel rooms. The property also features a 30-foot-by-60-foot outdoor swimming pool.

The '50s-style decor includes many original kitchen and bathroom appliances.

“We had a kind of very rough, wooden paneling that people used to appreciate, she said. For a while, people would say it just hadn’t modernized, but over time, she said, the features became loved for their sheer ‘retro-ness.’

“It was a bohemian style that attracted an eclectic group of people,” she said. “They would range from our regular blue-collar person all the way up to stars, celebrities who wanted to be kept incognito.”

The former television talk show host Dick Cavett stayed there, as did quite a few surfing stars, and the comic actress Molly Shannon, among others, Ms. Houseknecht recalled last week.

“It was very unique and very appealing. People would come from California and as soon as they would arrive at the East Deck, they would feel a sense of nostalgia that kept people coming back again and again,” she said.

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