PRESS

Panoramic’s Reps Take on Rumors

By Janis Hewitt


(09/13/2007) A team from Distinctive Ventures, the developers renovating the 55-year-old Panoramic View Hotel in Montauk, now known as the Panoramic View Oceanfront Resort and Luxury Villas, were pummeled with questions at a meeting of the Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee on Monday night.

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The Distinctive Ventures Group, including Adam Manson, its president, standing at right, appeared before the Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee Monday to dispel rumors about the project at the Panoramic View Oceanfront Resort and Villas. The project has drawn criticism from the public in recent months.


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Adam Manson, the president of the development firm, based in Great Neck, answered most of the questions at Monday night’s meeting. He said he was there to dispel rumors of a stop-work order on the project. That order, he said, was issued on a retaining wall that had collapsed and had not been approved for work in the original plan. He said that the firm had reapplied and received town approval to replace the retaining wall.


“We didn’t want to quickly paint, carpet, and walk away from this,” Mr. Manson said. “We wanted to be proud of it and do the right thing.”


The Panoramic View was a seasonal motel with 123 units before the French family converted it to co-ops in the early 1980s, Mr. Manson said. He added that once renovations are complete there will be a reduction in density on the property, with about 70 or 80 units costing upwards of $2.55 million each. He said that since the site had been converted before the town created a law regulating condos and co-ops, a new site plan approval was not needed for the current project. The first phase of the renovations was done on an area known as the Hilltop, a building that Mr. Manson said had been reduced from 23 units to 10 and should be completed within 10 weeks.


Committee members said that even though the density has been reduced, the units have become conducive to year-round use, and that worried them. The developers assured the committee that most of the buyers were only planning to use the property seasonally, and part time. They also said the units could not be rented out by their individual owners to large groups, because the property was governed by a set of bylaws prohibiting such use, Mr. Manson explained.


Staff housing is being included in the plan, with space currently available for nine employees. The developers said that they are also voluntarily designing some units in accordance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.


In 1984, the French family began to sell the units, while continuing to run the rest as a motel. In 2006, Distinctive Ventures purchased a majority of co-operative shares from the family and began to renovate the resort. When the project is complete, the property will have five multi-unit buildings and four single-family oceanfront villas.


Mr. Manson made a point of saying that the proper permits from the East Hampton Town Building Department were in place. He also said that the town had received all taxes due, adding, “The town actually did very well on this.”


Mr. Manson also said that the firm had sought advice about lighting from Susan Harder of the Dark Sky Society, and had adhered to town code on lighting. In an interview after the meeting, Mr. Mason said, “One of the most beautiful things about the Hamptons, and what’s magical about being on a beach, is looking up at the night sky and seeing all the stars.”


Oakley Gentry, the builder working on the site, said it had been carefully studied and that the exterior design was comparable to that of other coastal resorts. He noted repeatedly during the meeting that the work now is a renovation and “reskinning” of the exteriors. “There was a lot of sensitivity to the architecture,” he said. “We didn t spare any cost here.”


Committee members expressed concern about the environmental impact on the oceanfront site, which is about 85 feet above sea level and is spread out on 10 acres south of Old Montauk Highway. The property’s water source had been a well shared by the Gurney’s Inn Resort, but water will soon come from Suffolk County Water Authority mains.


There has also been an upgrade and replacement of the sanitary system, Mr. Manson said. “The sanitary system that was installed 50 years ago was kind of off-the-seat-of-your-pants,” he said, opining that the new system will put less stress on environment.


An environmental impact statement was not needed, Mr. Gentry said, because the State Department of Environmental Conservation had decided it was a nonjurisdictional property. He said that the renovations are within the original building’s footprint: “We are doing minimal work with little or no environmental impact with the changes.”


In closing, Mr. Manson invited committee members to visit the site or the company’s Web site, www.Panoramic view.com. He reiterated the invitation in a follow-up interview, and noted that when people visit they are pleasantly surprised by what they find. He said he had heard rumors of an elevator down to the beach and of seven-story buildings going up. “Before you know it, all the gossip became fact, and none of it was true,” he said, and laughed.