The New York Times
N.Y. / REGION
Gay Mecca on Fire Island Sells for $10.1 Million at Auction
By ASHLEY SOUTHALL JAN. 22, 2015
A strip of commercial real estate along the harbor in Fire Island Pines sold for $10.1 million at auction on Thursday to developers with plans to continue the revival of a former mecca for closeted gay men.
The sale price was well below the $25 million the previous owners sought when they placed it on the market last fall, and below the $17 million they paid for it in 2010. In a deal hammered out over more than six hours, the property was bought by Ian Reisner, who also owns the Out NYC, a hotel on West 42nd Street in Manhattan that focuses on a gay clientele. The deal is expected to close in February.
In a telephone interview, Mr. Reisner said he, his business partner and a small team of investors planned to spend $4 million over the next 18 months to “renovate and rejuvenate” the property, which includes a hotel, a nightclub, a restaurant, a bar and retail space.
“My idea for the Out was to have a place for L.G.B.T., because we didn’t have that at the time,” said Mr. Reisner, who said he has been visiting Fire Island Pines since he came out as gay in 1989. “The Pines is the Out.”
Mr. Reisner bought the property in a partnership with P.J. McAteer, who manages the Sip-N-Twirl, a nightclub in the Fire Island Pines commercial district. The opening bid was $8.5 million, but because it was below the $12 million reserve, Mr. Reisner said he had to negotiate a final price with the sellers, the brokers and the bank.
Located 90 minutes from New York City, Fire Island Pines became a destination for gay men after it was founded in 1952. The property sold on Thursday spans 320 feet of dockside frontage and constitutes 80 percent of the commercial space in the 650-home community.
After the previous owners bought the property in 2010, an electrical fire the next year gutted their investment. They rebuilt the Pavilion nightclub and renovated two restaurants, but were ultimately unable to recover.
“We feel that we did a pretty good job, considering the fact that we had to rebuild half the properties after a fire,” said Andrew Kirtzman, a former journalist who previously bought the property with two real estate developers. “And in wake of that and the fact that our business plan was so thrown off by that, this is as good a result as we probably could have hoped for.”
Like Mr. Reisner, Mr. Kirtzman felt the sale was more than a transaction. He lives in Manhattan, but owns an oceanfront home in Fire Island Pines and a bed-and-breakfast that was not part of the sale.
“I love the place like crazy, and I’m going to love walking into town and seeing what the new owners have done with the place,” he said.