Business: Skolnick To Design New Visitor Center, Fourth Quarter Numbers, and Beyond

Bishop’s Basilica of Philippopolis.

Skolnick To Design New Visitor Center at Bulgarian Historic Site

Architect Lee Skolnick’s latest project is an ocean away from his home in Sag Harbor — a site covered in 4th– to 6th-century mosaics, a place under consideration to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Uncovered during construction of a roadway, workers discovered more than 2,000 square meters of colorful mosaics dating back centuries in the middle of Plovdiv, Bulgaria — the floor of where a large Roman basilica once stood.

Now, New York-based Skolnick Architecture & Design Partnership is collaborating with two Bulgarian firms on the design of a new visitor center at the archeological site — the Bishop’s Basilica of Philippopolis — to open in late September. Its goal is to conserve, restore, display and protect the basilica, which is still being excavated.

“Having completed several large projects in Bulgaria, including The Children’s Museum of Bulgaria, we are thrilled to have been retained to work on the Basilica,” Skolnick said in a press release. “It’s apparent from the size of the mosaic floors that the scale of the original structure was enormous, and it’s been a challenge to simultaneously protect and expose them. They are magnificent — very well preserved, colorful and vivid. They’re a world treasure.”

The mosaics are typical of Roman-era work, featuring more than 100 unique images of birds. They reference Christian iconography, including a peacock at a “spring of life” fountain, which is a symbol of eternal life, and pairs of doves and parrots. They also form intricate geometric patterns over large areas.

Working with local architects Zoom Studio of Sofia and Atelier Duo of Plovdiv, Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership is consulting on the design of a large enclosure over the mosaics, as well as the visitor experience, which will include exhibits, interactive components, graphics, and exterior plaza and walkways through the site. This facility will be a living, working site, with active archaeological work going on even as visitors are walking through.

“This project, in conjunction with the status of Plovdiv being a European Capital of Culture, will bring the world’s attention to this beautiful, historic and culturally important city,” Nancy Schiller, president of the America for Bulgaria Foundation, said in a press release.

For more information about the Basilica of Philippopolis, visit

Fourth Quarter Numbers, and Beyond, Point To Healthy Surge

The last three months of 2018 composed a solid fourth quarter for East End home sales, with a few pockets of dips, according to Town & Country Real Estate.

Looking at all Hamptons markets combined, the number of home sales jumped 12 percent, the total home sales volume was up by 15 percent, and median home sales price by 2 percent.

Six of the eight specific price ranges rose by as much as 67 percent, with only the $2 million to $3.49 million price range down 14 percent, or eight less home sales. The $20-million and up had one versus two sales year over year.

“The glaring ‘wow’ factor is the $10 million to $20 million up 67 percent,” according to a press release. “Additionally, $3.5 million to $4.99 million range was up 32 percent and $5 million to $9.99 million up 25 percent. Those are inarguable boosts for the high end!”

For Douglas Elliman, median sales price stabilized as sales declined year over year for the fourth consecutive quarter, and listing inventory rose sharply after 12 quarters of declines, according to the agency’s fourth quarter report.

The ratio of sales above and below the $1-million threshold remained essentially unchanged, though luxury sales at or over $5 million reached its highest market share in three years. Overall, listing inventory jumped 81.9 percent to 2,197.

Compared to last year, median sales price remained unchanged at $995,000 while average sales price increased 9.1 percent to $2,006,610. Number of sales fell 34.8 percent to 360, days on market was down 18.2 percent to 108, and listing discount was 7.5 percent, down from 10 percent.

After sluggish sales in the second and third quarters, Brown Harris Stevens experienced significant increases in the number of sales across the East End during its fourth quarter.

The total number of South Fork sales rose 12.1 percent to 445, compared to 397 in 2017, and the total dollar volume increased 14.5 percent to $893,827,545. The average sales price inched up 2.2 percent to $2,008,601, while the median price increased 1.2 percent to $1,055,000.

There were 39 sales over $5 million, up from 31 at this time last year, 10 of which were over $10M, compared to seven in 2017. On the South Fork, 73.9 percent of sales were under $2 million.

Looking at individual markets, Town & Country saw East Hampton Village regain its crown with a median home sales price of $4,569,240.

Amagansett median home sales price rocketed up 75 percent — from $1,467,500 in 2017 to $2,562,500 in 2018 — and the number of home sales shot up 83 percent.

“While these statistical increases raise eyebrows, truth be told, 2018’s fourth quarter numbers are more indicative of Amagansett’s norm than the fourth quarter of 2017 was,” a press release said.

Several markets had significant gains in total home sales volume: Amagansett up 49 percent; Bridgehampton, which includes Water Mill and Sagaponack, up 47 percent; Southampton and North Sea up 50 percent; East Hampton Village up 46 percent; Hampton Bays up 41 percent; Montauk up 42 percent; Westhampton, which includes Remsenburg, Westhampton Beach, East Quogue, Quogue and Quiogue, up 33 percent; and Sag Harbor Village up a staggering 141 percent.

The only market that took a break was Shelter Island, with 58 percent fewer home sales and 73 percent less total home sales volume — thought median home sales price increased 37 percent from $925,000 to $1.27 million.

The fourth quarter was a defining period for North Fork home sales, according to Town & Country, who recorded a bit of a power struggle between Mattituck and Orient.

They both logged significant increases — Mattituck with 48 percent more home sales, 51 percent greater total home sales volume and a 9-percent jump in median home sales price to $650,000, and in Orient, a 65-percent increase in total home sales volume, from $12,591,928 to $20,802,630.

That was largely due to four more sales in the $1 million to $1.99 million range, and the 3345 Cedar Lane in East Marion sale for $4.388 million. Orient reigns supreme for the highest median home sales price of $708,500 for the fourth quarter.

“For a clear view of how the North Fork market performed in the fourth quarter of 2018, look at all North Fork markets combined,” the release said. “It was a solid period of overall growth with significantly more sales at higher prices. This has a positive ripple effect to all North Fork activity — real estate and otherwise.”

On the North Fork, Douglas Elliman saw unprecedented prices with fewer sales and more inventory.

Median sales set a new record for the third time in the past four quarters — a 5.4-percent increase to $630,000 — but the number of sales declined sharply year-over-year, for the third consecutive quarter. Listing inventory remained relatively stable, with nominal changes over the past three quarters, and luxury price trend indicators rose sharply as listing inventory fell by half. The market share of sales under $1 million was only price strata to rise

For Brown Harris Stevens, the number of sales on the North Fork increased 11.4 percent to 205 and the total dollar volume soared 26.7 percent to $121,459,711. The average North Fork sale price increased 13.7 percent to $592,486 and the median price rose 4.3 percent to $489,999.

“A strong fourth quarter in 2018 helped counterbalance weaker second and third quarter sales, with total transactions and dollar volume nearly unchanged compared to 2017,” according to Brown Harris Stevens.

Year over year, the total number of 2018 South Fork sales dipped slightly, down 3.3 percent compared to 2017 — 2,079 this year versus 2,150 in 2017 — and the total dollar volume inched up .8 percent to $3,955,402,294.

The 2018 average sales price in the Hamptons rose 4.3 percent to $1,902,550, while the median price increased .7 percent to $995,000. On the South Fork, 75.9 percent of sales in 2018 were under $2 million, and 51.1 percent were under $1 Million.

There were 159 sales over $5 million in 2018, 44 of which were over $10 million. While 2 percent of sales were over $10 million, these luxury properties accounted for 17.5 percent of the total dollar volume.

The number of sales on the North Fork decreased 3.7 percent to 902, compared to 937 the previous year. Total dollar volume was up 6.5 percent to $546,921,694, and the average North Fork sale price increased 10.7 percent to $606,343. The median price rose 8.2 percent to $475,950.

Bistro Été Serves Up Free Entrées for Furloughed Feds

As the current government shutdown became the longest one on record, Bistro Été opened its doors and kitchen to furloughed federal employees.

From Thursday through Sunday, 5 to 7 p.m., show a federal ID and enjoy a complimentary entrée at the Water Mill restaurant, located at 760 Montauk Highway, for the duration of the shutdown.

Before the eatery closes from February 20 to March 20 — for “rest and relaxation, and culinary inspiration” — swing by for Fondue and Foie Gras Fridays, which includes a complimentary wine paring with any order of fondue or foie gras, or Winter Long Island Restaurant Week, featuring a three-course prix fixe for $29.95 through Sunday, February 3.

For more information, call (631) 500-9085 or visit