By: Lieba Nesis
As summer imminently arrives, the Hamptons has become an increasingly attractive option to thousands of city dwellers. The influx to the South Fork began in mid-March, during the incipient stages of pandemic hysteria. The Hamptons has been minimally impacted by the virus with only 1,871 coronavirus deaths in all of Suffolk County-a paltry number compared to the 22,000 in the Big Apple. Clamoring for houses has consequently picked up steam as desperate New Yorkers seek a safe oasis with rental prices increasing nearly 50 percent. Brokers began their busy season three months earlier than normal as wild stories of exorbitant prices being paid rapidly circulated.
Average rental prices are currently running from $100,000 to $200,000 a summer as inventory is quickly running out. A Jersey City couple recently rented a fisherman’s shack in Southampton for $10,000 a month. Most properties endure multiple bidding wars as desperate real estate brokers scour the enclave for inventory. One renter, a textile tycoon, shelled out two million for developer Joe Farrell’s 10 bedroom Bridgehampton home from April through September. The house, referred to as the Sandcastle, contains a bowling alley, basketball court, baseball field, spa, and 60-foot indoor pool. Past renters have included Jay-Z, Justin Bieber and Beyonce. Last year Trump’s summer fundraiser was held at this luxurious estate. Farrell, the largest developer in the Hamptons, is currently offering homes ranging from $65,000 to $700,000 from now until Labor day.
The neighboring town of Southampton experienced a surge in dwellers from 60,000 to 100,000 at the end of March. This past Memorial Day weekend saw out of control crowds on Southampton beaches. Littering, public urination, and flouting of social distancing laws prompted Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman to close the beaches to out-of-towners and restrict parking in beach lots and roads through June 5th. This order will likely be extended for the indefinite future. East Hampton’s Board recently wrote to Governor Cuomo requesting a halt to the opening of hotels due to concern of “renewed outbreaks.” As the tony City crowd overwhelms the Hamptons it’s only natural they would hire helicopter service Blade to fetch some of their essentials from Manhattan. Weekly helicopter deliveries between Manhattan and East Hampton are made available every Friday afternoon, to fetch clothing, electronics and special food for these VIP’s. Blade temperature checks and monitors the oxygen levels of its pilots, employees and passengers to assuage the frazzled nerves of its clients. Cabins are electrostatically decontaminated, middle seats left empty, and masks required on all flights. Prices begin at $795 a seat for the 40-minute ride-a real Hamptons bargain.
Remote hedge funding and school closures have goaded financial hotshots to purchase homes to reside in the Hamptons year round. In fact starting in August 2020 elite private school Avenues is opening a location in the Hamptons to cater to out of school youth. With an annual tuition of $48,000 students can meet in the Hamptons for events and group project work, with all classes held online. Many New Yorkers have been evaluating sending their kids to Hampton schools as the less crowded classrooms and ability to avoid public transportation make it a more attractive option. While home sales plummeted from 74 to 20 in April-a whopping 73.7%- much of that was due to the inability to conduct showings during the pandemic. The demand for show-stopping properties for displaced families remains high as hedge fund chief Barry Rosenstein recently sold his 1.5-acre East Hampton home for $37 million. Lest you feel sorry for the activist investor, he has a nearby property he purchased for $137 million in 2014. Some other astronomical sales include the sprawling home of Union Pacific chairperson, James Evans, which went for $45 million to an unidentified buyer in April.
As for the busy gala season that occupies most Hamptonites from June through Labor Day, they are cancelled. Drive-in-movies have become the norm as it was recently announced a charity to benefit food pantries in East Hampton and Bridgehampton will be taking place on a Bridgehampton farm on June 12th and 13th. The Waxman Cancer Foundation is carefully weighing a smaller charity benefit in August while Southampton Hospital is holding its annual benefit via Zoom. The Surf Lodge, one of the hottest concert venues in Montauk, has been holding virtual performances in partnership with Governors Ball and Bumble. Maybe Rihanna can participate as it was recently revealed she eyed an $800,000 rental property in Sagaponack before it got snatched up. The 32-year-old fashion mogul is seeking a permanent Hamptons hideaway-preferably on the Ocean. She is in good company as fellow fashion billionaire Mary Kate Olsen, who recently fled from a nasty divorce, rented a $325,000 luxe Hamptons home for the duration of the summer.
If you are in search of spirituality the Southampton Chabad and other synagogues and churches will be open provided masks are worn and parishioners spread apart. Many of these institutions will be eliminating the food and socialization portion of their gatherings. Not to worry, the Hamptons will have hundreds of restaurants open for dining and delivery. New York bistros, The Smith and Carbone, are offering delights such as spicy rigatoni and veal parmigiana to desperate New York customers according to the New York Post. Sent in a refrigerated truck the items will be shipped 90-miles to the Hamptons with instructions on how to complete halfway cooked items. Surprisingly, there are no Jewish delis in the Hamptons. Consequently, if desperation for a corned beef sandwich sets in you can phone the Hamptons Jitney (bus service). For $35 to $55, a large slab of meat will be delivered to your abode allowing you to forget for a brief moment why you hopelessly long for New York.