East Hampton Town is trying to acquire 12 acres of land on Pantigo Road in the eastern part of town, much of which would be used to develop affordable housing and new recreation areas.
The Town Board last week authorized the town’s land management director, Scott Wilson, to participate in a foreclosure auction for the land at 395 Pantigo Road, a large wooded lot behind Cook Maran Insurance and Domaine Franey Wines & Spirits—and to bid up to $2 million for the property.
The auction was supposed to take place on Tuesday but was called off on Monday for undisclosed reasons.
But two of the six people listed on the property’s deed came to Town Hall on Tuesday to see who showed up for the abruptly canceled auction.
John Flanagan and his stepfather, James Phillips, who lives in the lone house on the land, which his family has owned for some 60 years, said the family may still be willing to reach a bargain with the town for the purchase of all or portions of the property.
“We just wanted to see who was coming,” Mr. Phillips said.
The main hitch, Mr. Flanagan added, is that Mr. Phillips, who is 90, wants to continue living in the house for his remaining years. He said other members of the family would rather the property be sold immediately, even if that means at foreclosure auction.
“Ideally, I wanted to see the house be renovated and kept in the family, and maybe we could lease out the back to be farmed,” he said. “But they want to sell it so badly to the point that they were willing to let it sell in the lobby here today.”
The property is owned by Mr. Phillips, Mr. Flanagan, Mr. Flanagan’s mother, and two sisters and two stepsisters.
Mr. Flanagan said that the town has already offered the family $2.7 million for the property—an offer he called a “lowball” bid.
Mr. Wilson would not comment on the town’s bid to purchase the property.
The property sits in a 5-acre zone, which would mean that with mandatory set-asides, 6 acres would have to be left as open space and the remaining 6 could be divided into two 3-acre lots.
The town, however, could greatly expand that yield with an affordable housing zoning overlay.
“It seems like an excellent affordable housing opportunity on that property,” Supervisor Larry Cantwell said on Monday.
The resolution the town offered in authorizing Mr. Wilson to bid up to $2 million said that the property would be bought with bonded money, not Community Preservation Fund revenues, which would not allow the property to be developed or used for active recreation—like ballfields.
The house currently on the property is approximately 150 years old and was once owned by former New York Giants baseball team owner Dan Topping and his wife at the time, the figure skater Sonja Henie.
Mr. Flanagan said that he and his stepfather are trying to buy out his stepsisters.
“We’re trying to negotiate a buyout with them so he can live there for the rest of his life,” Mr. Flanagan said. “The right thing to do is let him play it out there.”
Neither Mr. Wilson nor Mr. Cantwell would comment on whether the town would pursue another effort to purchase the land outside of the auction process.
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