The Torch is Passed Again

FireIslandNews_Article_2-8-15

FIP Property Deal: The Torch is Passed Again

By Shoshanna McCollum

Call it a fire sale or the deal of the century, but once again that large swath of commercial property in Fire Island Pines has changed hands, making it the fourth time in just over the past decade.

On January 22, 2015, the New York Times and other major publications reported that the prime real estate package sold for 10.1 million dollars at auction, significantly below the $25 million price tag when it was first placed on the market in the autumn of 2014, and almost $7 million less than when it was last purchased in 2010.

The business partners, Ian Reisner, proprietor of the Out Hotel, and P.J. McAteer of Sip-N-Twirl, will be the new owners of the empire. They made the purchase for less than the $12 million auction reserve price. Reisner has recently announced plans of opening a sister hotel slated to open in 2016, and vows to invest up to $4 million to “renovate and rejuvenate” the district.

“This is as much a community investment as a financial one,” stated Reisner, who relayed his vision to “add additional cachet, style & panache to The Pines so it can regain its status as an international beach destination to rival other sister beach communities such as Provincetown, Mykonos & Ibiza.”

The waterfront property includes famed institutions like Pavilion and Sip-N-Twirl nightclubs; the Blue Whale, Pines Bistro, and Canteen/Cultured Elephant restaurants; hotels like The Out, and Botel; The Rack Gym, as well as a considerable string of smaller storefront businesses. The deal comprises 80% of the commercial property in Fire Island Pines.

For decades the properties belonged to legendary real estate entrepreneur John Whyte, the namesake of Whyte Hall Community Center. Whyte sold his holdings to business partners Eric von Kuersteiner and Anthony Roncalli before his death in 2004 for $6 million.

Fire Island real estate prices soared, and it sold again in 2010 to a trio of investors who called themselves FIP Ventures for $18 million. The much-publicized dream-team included Seth Weissman, Matt Blesso, as well as author and WCBS newscaster Andrew Kirtzman. They had the highest hopes for reinventing the strip. Unfortunately their vision took an unexpected turn when one of the largest mutual aid fire calls in Fire Island’s history devastated the area in November of the following year. Efforts to rebuild the Pavilion expeditiously followed, but Hurricane Sandy’s impact on Fire Island only compounded their recovery challenges.

“In their six years as owners of the Pines commercial district, the owners of FIPV constructed an internationally-renowned Pavilion on the site of a devastating fire that left its predecessor in ashes,” Kirtzman is quoted as stating in Reisner’s January 27, 2015, press release on the subject. “They also renovated the Blue Whale, opened Canteen restaurant and refurbished the Botel pool deck into a huge and wildly popular new party venue. We congratulate Ian and PJ and wish them a terrific future in the Pines. We’re excited to see them take the commercial district to a new level.”

David R. Maltz & Company, an auction house that specializes in debt related sales handled the transition. The properties were advertised as free of liens, claims, or encumbrances. Closing is scheduled for late February.

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