Billionaire Robert Kraft at Loggerheads with Southampton Officials Over Elevator Installation  - The Jewish Voice
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Billionaire Robert Kraft at Loggerheads with Southampton Officials Over Elevator Installation 

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Billionaire Robert Kraft at Loggerheads with Southampton Officials Over Elevator Installation 

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Seems like New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is immersed in an imbroglio of sorts with officials out in the Hamptons over an elevator in his $43 million mansion on Long Island’s east end.

The New York Post recently reported that the 81-year-old billionaire has claimed that he is “mobility impaired” and therefore would like to install an elevator in his grand estate. This request has not gone over well with officials in Southampton who point to zoning and architectural statutes that some describe as draconian for their reason in not granting permission to Kraft to install the elevator that may cost over $1 million.

The report indicated that some believe that the sports mogul is not being completely honest and forthright in his assertion that he needs an elevator because of mobility issues. They pointed to recent photos taken of Kraft while he was spryly playing golf and tennis with his much younger  wife, according to the Post.

Mike Sendlenski, an attorney representing Kraft said at a January 26th hearing of the village Zoning Board of Appeals that his client urgently needs the lift for medical reasons, the Post reported. “Doctors have advised him to limit his traversing stairs as much as possible,” he pleaded.

The physician of the New England Patriots team, Dr. Mark D. Price said in an affidavit that in his professional opinion the “progressive knee pain” that Kraft is experiencing is considered a “medical disability” and that the installation of the elevator was indeed necessary under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as was reported by the Post.

Officials in Southampton have countered that argument with photographic proof that Kraft was playing tennis with wife, Dana Blumberg, 49, while they were both in Sun Valley, Idaho, the Post reported. The couple was married last October.

While participating in the pro-am prior to the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California in February 2022, photographs taken of Kraft show him hitting the links, the Post reported. One frustrated Southampton local said, “If you Google ‘Robert Kraft tennis’ and you see recent photos of him playing tennis and you get this feeling they are just willing to do anything to win.”

Kraft’s mercurial battle began in November 2021. The Post reported that in March 2022, Kraft was granted permission to install the elevator in a contentious 3-2 vote by the Architectural Review Board but now Kraft now faces a tougher challenge from the village’s zoning board who want to rigidly adhere to the established guidelines.

Citing the Americans with Disability Act, Kraft may initiate a lawsuit against the village, the Post reported.

“There is nothing subtle about this,” sniffed ZBA member Susan Stevenson at the January hearing. The Post reported that members said that the board would prefer the exterior elevator be hidden inside the seven-bedroom, 8 1/2-bath home on 40 Meadow Lane.

The Post also reported that Kraft’s legal team challenged that demand by saying an interior elevator would cost $2.47 million, while an exterior one would cost $1.16 million. Speaking to Kraft attorney Mike Sendlenski at the hearing in January, board member Julia McCormack said, “The cost is not something that the zoning board actually is asked to take into account.”

Sendlenski told her, “You can and need to!”

Insiders in the Southampton area have said that the real issue is the house itself and not with Kraft on a personal level. Located in the heart of the historic district of Southampton, Kraft’s ultra-modern home is in close proximity to the ultra-exclusive, old-money Meadow Club, the Post reported.

In 2014, the Southampton village’s historic “A Wee Ly Mor” cottage, dating back to the 1880s, was demolished to make way for the mansion by its then-owner, the scandal-scarred developer Nir Meir.

A former chair of the village Architectural Review Board, Curtis Highsmith, said, “There were questions about the house not being built as approved,” according to the Post report.

Some folks out in the Hamptons are in Kraft’s corner on this issue. The Post reported that Zach Epley, a village notable and son of former Mayor Mark Epley said he didn’t understand what the fuss was about: “It doesn’t bother me at all … It’s an elevator.”

Todd Shapiro, a public relations executive with a place in Southampton, added Kraft “pays a lot of money for taxes” and “should have his right to do what he wants to do in his home,” as was reported by the Post.

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