The “Golden Triangle” between the Hamptons, the Gold Coast, and Manhattan is attracting a younger generation of family-focused buyers, says a panel of local real estate and design experts.
Maria Babaev (left), Uri Hason, and Peggy Moriarty.
Give me a little snapshot of the Gold Coast. How do you characterize it? Peggy Moriarty: There is an interesting now-and-then concept that’s beginning to evolve. We have the most beautiful estates, large pieces of property, but I feel like the newer homes that are being developed tend to be taking over the old estates. The new homes are magnificent and beautiful; people don’t have the time, or the energy, to renovate some of these really fabulous old estates. Tom Samet: I try to get my clients to focus on older homes, and the quality of lifestyle they can have in these homes, and try to update them for how people live now. They’re also a big value; the quality of homes you can get for the dollar is still very strong. Marilyn Rose: But you have to have a deep pocket to be able to not only restore them, but maintain them. But I do feel that the way things were made in the ’20s, there’s no comparison to the houses that are being constructed now. Just to have the ability and the good fortune to see how things were done at their peak is an absolute blessing. Uri Hason: Ten years ago, I built the Preserve at Woodbury—32 brownstones [that we] made look old, with the copper, with the iron, with the bricks, and we created a modern lifestyle inside. Because of the way we did it, it will be historical one day. Francesco Marasco: Everything has evolved. Things have moved more toward a timeless look that will withstand—it won’t be in style today but gone tomorrow. People are taking the old-world look and modernizing it, but still keeping that traditional feel.
Fort Hill House in Lloyd Harbor, listed by Maria Babaev, features three acres of award-winning formal English gardens.
Do you find people are more drawn to traditional as opposed to modernist? Maria Babaev: I think it’s a marriage between modern and traditional. Very easy, open spaces, very comfortable. People want every inch of their home to be utilized, especially families with young kids. When you entertain, you want spaces where everyone feels included. TS: When my mother was head of the zoning board in Old Westbury, no houses could look too much alike in a certain proximity to each other. She was worried the developers were building houses that were too much alike, and she helped up the acreage to four-acre zoning from two-acre. MR: I’m finding across the board that even people in traditional homes are looking for a more transitional look in certain parts of the house, so that they used to collect antiques and now I see antiques dealers going out of business. I’m hoping it will come back, because I love collecting antiques myself. UH: People with families don’t like four acres, because the neighbor is so far away. People like one acre, half an acre, three-quarters of an acre. The parents can have more control of the kids. They’re moving from three acres to one acre just to have neighbors. And their first question: How many kids in the neighborhood?
Marilyn Rose and Francesco Marasco.
Are young families typical of your customers? MB: Uri is so right on the money. I am just amazed at the tremendous role children now play in the decision-making of the entire family. UH: This is why every house in Dix Hills we build, we build the parents’ quarter and the kids’ quarter. So the kids are away from their parents a little bit, not that much.
What’s the demographic of these people coming from New York City, from Long Island? TS: They get bumped out of Manhattan as a real estate market, and they need the third bedroom. The public schools out here are generally pretty good compared to the public schools in Manhattan. A lot of it is children-driven. PM: I believe there are two types of buyers coming to the Gold Coast. The ones who need to be in and out of the city real fast, they’ll go to Dix Hills. The further north you come up—Lloyd Harbor, Locust Valley especially—we’re going to find larger pieces of property, bigger homes, people who want that. They usually start off saying, “How fast can I get to the parkway?” or “How long is that train?” Manhasset is on fire. This is the American dream. My daughter put it perfectly. She said, “I’m sick of my kids playing in Central Park.” UH: I have people in the Hamptons who are buying a house for $3 million who were living in an apartment in the city. They’ll walk into the house when it’s finished and they cannot believe it. I can see it in their face. And before they bought the house, they said, “Oh, we’re going to come in the summer and the weekends.” They are there every week, in the winter as well. FM: I think it varies. The homes I’m working in, it’s people who have made a good amount of money and they’re fulfilling a dream. There’s a great estate right now… they’re taking something old, from the 1920s, and restoring it. And as many beautiful homes as I walk into, there’s nothing like walking into that home, because I think it’s almost got a spirit of its own.
What do you think about the future? Is it going to be more of the same? Is it going in different directions? UH: I think the future will be stronger because people will find the value more and more in Long Island. People who grew up in Long Island as a kid, I think they want to stay, or if they go to the city, they’ll want to come back. TS: We cannot underestimate the value of a good school district. That is usually one of the first questions people ask, because they don’t want to put their kids into a private school, if they don’t have to, after being in Manhattan. MB: And even if they do put their children in a private school, for resale value, they still want their property to be in the top school district. FM: People are working harder and it’s going to open up possibilities to the younger generation who are coming up. And they’re going to want to carry on whatever was built beforehand. MR: As long as [the Gold Coast] is still protected and not overbuilt and we can still maintain the integrity of this area, then it will continue to grow and thrive.