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Hamptons Life

May 8, 2017 1:25 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Water Mill's Holly Lane, Itself, Offered For $2.5 Million

Holly Lane COURTESY DOUGLAS ELLIMAN COURTESY DOUGLAS ELLIMAN
May 8, 2017 1:35 PM

Yogi Berra once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” The folks at Douglas Elliman Real Estate are suggesting, “When you come to a road for sale, buy it.” Yes, it’s true: There actually is a road for sale, and it can be found in Water Mill.

It would not be a surprise to find a property for sale on Holly Lane, but Holly Lane itself? Indeed—the private road that connects Cobb Road to Mecox Bay and totals 1.25 acres is on the block, so to speak, for $2,500,000. Its width varies from 40 to 75 feet and it is lined with the trees, lawns and gates belonging to the residences on either side. As is the case with many properties in the Hamptons, Holly Lane has an interesting history.

Early in the 20th century, the road and its surroundings were owned by the financier Ancell Ball and his wife, Isabel. Then came 1929, not a good year for financiers. The Balls’ real estate holdings in Water Mill were sold to Joseph B. Murray. (It has been incorrectly reported elsewhere that the purchaser was Joe Murray, a partner of Thomas Edison, but that Murray died in 1907 and thus would have been hard-pressed to obtain a mortgage 22 years later.) The property remained in the Joseph B. Murray family until 1957, when it was sold to C. Leigh Stevens, a wealthy Michigan industrial consultant.

Mr. Stevens held onto it for only two years. In 1959, a real estate developer, Alfred Padula, was sailing in Mecox Bay when he spied the property—at that time, it contained one residence and a barn—and he asked a caretaker about it. One thing led to another and Alfred Padula became the new owner. Over the years, subdivided parcels of the original property were sold off. Today, there are 18 separate properties. Alfred Padula died in 1982 and the artist Warren Padula and his sister and brother are the heirs, and as such, owners of Holly Lane.

“The road became sort of orphaned, then a couple of years ago we began getting calls from attorneys asking if we wanted to sell it,” Mr. Padula said. “The proper purchaser would be a road association consisting of the 18 property owners here, but that’s like herding cats. About a year ago, I suggested a meeting, but no one seemed to care.”

They may become more interested when there is a new owner of the private road providing access to the water as well as their properties. According to a history of the original estate compiled by Mr. Padula: “The owner of the title completely controls the aesthetic design of the property, including the installation of sculpture, commissioning art projects, painting designs on the paving, wrapping the trees with fabric, installing flagpoles, Chinese lanterns, electric lighting, solar panels, cell phone repeaters, and since this is private property, advertising signs or banners. The owner can install curbs, Belgian blocks, or boulders on their property. They can convert the paving to a dirt country road. They can control all parking and towing.”

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