Sag Harbor’s star turn comes of age

Luxury condos, restaurants and </br>trendy new retail move into the </br>once-sleepy village as some residents look to slow development

The rooftop pool at the new condominium Harbor’s Edge.
The rooftop pool at the new condominium Harbor’s Edge.

Getting a room at the much-awaited Baron’s Cove luxury waterfront resort in Sag Harbor may not be easy this summer. The 67-room property, situated on the marina within walking distance of the village, was fully booked when it opened Memorial Day weekend. 

“There seems to be pent up demand and we’re filling a need,” said Curtis Bashaw, co-managing partner at the hotel’s developer, Cape Advisors.

The resort’s opening is the result of nearly two years of work by Cape Advisors, known for breathing new life into Cape May, New Jersey, with properties such as the restored Congress Hall.

Baron’s Cove is just one of a number of new developments — from condos to restaurants and upscale retail — moving into Sag Harbor and turning what was once a sleepy artists’ village into a true East End destination. Other recent arrivals include Harbor Books on Main Street, which opened last fall, and the gourmet take-out eatery Harbor Market & Kitchen, which debuted in April.

And buyers are flocking to two new high-end condominium complexes, too.

“There’s definitely a trend to more upscale,” said Lisa Fields, president of the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce and owner of the Sag Harbor Variety Store.

But Fields notes that the new additions could bring with them some of their own issues.

“Obviously, there’s more traffic,” Fields said. “More people want to come here.”

The town is changing so quickly, in fact, that village officials are considering implementing a three-month building moratorium to slow down new development in order to revamp the town’s building code. The moratorium would be imposed on new construction greater than 3,000 square feet and on renovations made to more than 50 percent of existing dwellings, in a bid to halt the large number of mansions being built in the area.

The town’s gentrification is obvious. On the restaurant scene, Wölffer Estate Vineyard, a sustainable vineyard in the Hamptons, is opening Wölffer Kitchen at 29 Main Street this summer, serving up locally-sourced food by Deena Chafetz, who has been a chef at the Santa Fe School of Cooking. The eatery is co-owned by brother and sister Marc and Joey Wölffer. 

The restaurant will have interior seating for 60 and doors that open to outdoor seating on the sidewalk. Roman Roth, the winemaker from Wölffer Estate Vineyard, will curate the wine list, with about 60 percent of the wines from Long Island and many from the Wölffer vineyard.

“Our goal is really to be part of the fabric of the community in Sag Harbor, a real neighborhood place for people who live here and consider Sag Harbor and the East End home,” said Donnell Brown, senior marketing manager for the Vineyard.

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Joey Wölffer also runs the Styleliner, a bohemian fashion boutique on wheels inside a renovated potato-chip delivery truck that travels back and forth to New York City. In May she opened a store in Sag Harbor at 25 Madison Street called Joey Wölffer: The Road We Travel, which sells items from Wölffer’s burgeoning global lifestyle and fashion brand.

The main house at Baron’s Cove has a wood-burning fi replace.

The main house at Baron’s Cove has a wood-burning fi replace.

Another retailer new to Sag Harbor is Henry Lehr, an upscale women’s clothing store that has other outposts in the Hamptons. It is expected to start operating in the space that was once home to Ideal Stationery, a mom and pop on Main Street that closed this past spring when the owner retired.

Meanwhile, the Watchcase Factory development, a project in Sag Harbor by Cape Advisors and Beyer Blinder Belle Architects, is filling up. It has 63 units including factory lofts, penthouses and townhouse residences inspired by the sea captains’ houses in the village.

Eighty percent of the 46 factory units and 70 percent of the 17 residences are already under contract, said Cee Brown, an associate real estate broker at Corcoran Group Real Estate who is in charge of sales for the luxury development.

“We’re going like gangbusters,” Brown said. “We’ve got people moving in and living there now.”

The residences range from one to six bedrooms, from 700 to 5,000 square feet. Available homes listed on the development’s website on June 1 ranged from a two-story, three-bedroom garden loft with 1,991 square feet of interior space asking $2.85 million to a two-story, three-bedroom penthouse with 2,848 square feet of interior space for $10.2 million.

The “village within a village” style development comes with access to amenities such as a heated outdoor pool, a fitness studio, private spa treatment room and rooftop gardens.

Watchcase’s arrival comes as high-end condo developments are springing up across the East End as a growing number of wealthy Hamptonites look for all-in-one vacation properties that include maintenance, concierge services and the like.

In mid-May, Harbor’s Edge, a 15-unit condominium complex, opened at 21 West Water Street; it is a project of Water Street Development. The two- and three-bedroom units, which all face the harbor, range from 2,000 to 3,000 square feet, with prices going from $2.5 million to about $6 million for penthouse units, said Keith Green, a licensed salesperson at Halstead Property, who is living there himself.

One unit, a penthouse, was sold in preview, and another unit had a full-price offer and acceptance. Residents have access to a 50-foot lap pool on a rooftop sun deck. A concierge will be available six months out of the year, Green said.

For people who aren’t ready to invest in a home, Baron’s Cove will be open 12 months a year, with about 80 employees, both seasonal and year-round, Bashaw says. It offers amenities such as three wood burning fireplaces in the main house of the property, a heated saltwater pool, restaurant and a lobby bar. Also on tap is a fitness studio; boot-camp, yoga and hula hooping classes on the front lawn; tennis instruction and in-room massage.

“I think what makes Sag Harbor a great place is it’s Sag Harbor,” says Bashaw. “It’s not trying to be too cool.”