Raising the Roof on Sag Harbor’s West Water Street

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The Glickman residence on West Water Street from the street side of the property. Courtesy Val Florio.
The view of the Glickman residence on West Water Street from the water. Courtesy Val Florio.
The view of the Glickman residence on West Water Street from the water. Courtesy Val Florio.

By Douglas Feiden

Capping a 14-month-long, regulatory process in which four village review panels weighed in, the Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review on Thursday, April 28, granted approval to the homeowner’s application for a certificate of appropriateness, which is the final step needed to obtain a village building permit.

The Glickman residence on West Water Street from the street side of the property. Courtesy Val Florio.
The Glickman residence on West Water Street from the street side of the property. Courtesy Val Florio.

Though the changes are significant — they include lifting the home 3 feet and installing a new foundation to safeguard against flooding — most of them won’t be visible from West Water Street.

Indeed, the residence’s footprint will not expand, and its new second-story façade will be optimally viewed only from points to the north, on its seaward side, like the Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge, for instance, or from the bobbing boats in Sag Harbor Cove.

“It’s kind of a schizophrenic house,” said ARB Chairman Anthony Brandt. “You look at it from the street, and it looks very ordinary. But you look at it from the back, and it looks very splendid.”

Architect Val Florio explained that the renovations and additions he designed for the Glickman Residence would serve to reinforce that dichotomy.

He said the dwelling was “modest in scale” and “subtle and safe” on the street side, relating more to the Beacon restaurant on the west than to what he dubbed “that big white abomination” on the opposite side. The perspective changes on the parcel’s northern face.

“There are whimsical elements to the architecture facing the boats,” Mr. Florio said. He cited an octagonal tower rising out of the master bedroom that rests atop the home and references a “miniature lighthouse.”

The shingle-style home has ingredients of coastal New England architecture, resembling, for instance, the Nantucket look, a tad modest, “without much fussiness in terms of detail and a kind of neutral color scheme that doesn’t really stand out,” Mr. Florio said.

In many ways, it’s an oddity in the village: Flanked by mostly non-residential structures — marinas, yachts, parking lots, a restaurant, commercial retail businesses and the white building that’s now part of a proposed multi-family condominium development — it is one of Sag Harbor’s only residentially developed properties sited in the village’s Waterfront District, not its Residence District.

The Billy Joel compound at 20 Bay Street is another one.

Previous owners of 4 West Water Street include Rose Black, the proprietress of the rough-and-tumble Black Buoy, a once-popular Main Street bar, and more recently, the parents of supermodel Christie Brinkley.

Expansion plans for the dwelling, first unveiled in February 2015, were quickly caught up the village’s tougher regulatory climate.

The proposal was first delayed by the waterfront moratorium, then in effect, and after securing needed variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals, it went into limbo again, in July 2015, after the imposition of a residential building moratorium.

By the fall of 2015, the Village Board of Trustees determined that the project would not in fact be affected by the moratorium on residential construction since it wasn’t in the residential district, said Brian DeSesa, the attorney for the Glickmans, who have been coming to Sag Harbor for two decades.

After forging a compromise with the Harbor Committee over the size of the buffer between the bulkhead and the back deck of the Glickman home, the panel issued a wetlands permit on April 11. Finally, the ARB signed off last Thursday.

“That approval was the last of the many, many hurdles since we started this process,” Mr. DeSesa said.

But he’s not complaining: “We’re very happy with the end result,” he said. “It shows the process can work when applied properly. It was a learning process for both the applicant and the village because the application was processed during a time of transition.”

Construction is expected to start by late summer or early fall and could be completed by the spring of 2017, depending on winter weather, Messrs. DeSesa and Florio said.

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