The residents of Harbor Point, that very nice waterside community down at the end of Riverside’s Indian Head Road, are famously litigious, suing each other over driveway basketball poles, roof lines, any new construction at all if it will affect someone’s view and often, just for fun.
So it’s hardly news that the neighborhood turned out with pitchforks and torches at Tuesday night’s P&Z hearing to oppose William and Fran Deutsch’s plan to build a 10,000 sq. ft. maxi-pad on the very tip of the peninsula, screaming for blood. Even hardened land use lawyer Tom Heagney, representing the Deutsches, was taken aback. Addressing commission member Frankly Ernest, Heagney said:
“Frankly when they met with some of the neighbors 10 days ago they were appalled by some of those neighbors’ behavior,” Heagney said. “It gave them great pause as to whether, frankly, if they want to live there.”
For once, I have a certain sympathy for the Harbor Point residents in their opposition to change, because the Deutsch’s proposed mansion will replace an unobtrusive, single-story contemporary that has occupied the point in quiet obscurity since the 1960s. The Deutsch house will tower over the area: picture John Paul Tudor Jones’s house casting the Belle Haven clubhouse into shadow, and you get the affect. But perhaps the association should have bought that property itself and preserved the view long ago: no one who pays $13 million for a piece of land as the Deutsches did is likely to want to live in a modest piece of modern architectural history, so this development should have been expected. “Buy your view” is always good advice.
On the other hand, there is a certain schadenfreude in all this: the Deutsches bought this property directly from the seller without the benefit of a blood sucking real estate agent. Nothing improper about that, of course, but had they used an agent with some local knowledge they would have learned of Harbor Point’s long history of blocking new houses and the animosity that would be spewed onto anyone daring to try it. I know of one would be buyer who walked from a substantial deposit years ago after months of fighting and being blackballed at the Riverside Yacht Club because, he said ” I don’t want to live where everyone hates me”. And at least two potential buyers for this property passed on it for the same reason. The (doctor) who lost his deposit was taken by surprise by the antipathy because he was new to town – the others, life-long Riverside residents, were fully aware of Harbor Point’s attitude and didn’t take the risk.
There’s also the bonus feature of this particular spot, one that I mentioned last summer, when news of its purchase was first reported: the peninsula the present house sits on offers the best underwater rock structure and thus the most attractive waters for striped bass along the entire Greenwich shoreline. The rocks draw fish and the fish draw fishermen, who on most summer nights, depending on the tides, anchor 25 yards offshore from midnight to dawn and fish. The soft lights from their craft, the quiet murmuring of radios, the occasional calls out to each other with progress reports and excited yelling when there’s a fish on provide a wonderful ambience to the pescatorial set; for the unhappy owner of a $25 million mansion 75-feet away, perhaps not so much.
I’d have told the Deutsches all this, but they never asked.
UPDATE: Hey, they weren’t kidding about selling the place. Listed today, at $16.9 million. I’m not sure why they should get $3.6 million above what they paid for it, just for finding out that the place is surrounded by unpleasant people, but perhaps the price is negotiable.
UPDATE II: saw it at today’s open house and was reminded, again, that this is the most spectacular piece of waterfront in Greenwich, with views stretching from the NYC skyline to the southwest to way, way up Long Island Sound to the east. Well worth sharing with a few fishermen.