[This was all illegal, it seems...Photo courtesy TRC]
Today in shady billionaire real estate dealings: The Reform Club! (With a side of Mezzaluna Amg.) The horrendously-named new Amagansett hotel is at the center of an controversy regarding the building permits, or lack thereof, given to properties owned by billionaire Randy Lerner by the late East Hampton Town building inspector, Don Sharkey. This week's East Hampton Star contains an extensive breakdown of the relationship between Lerner and Sharkey, and the personal attention given to his commercial projects. Amagansett-resident Lerner, the 377th richest man in America, is the owner of the Cleveland Browns football team, the Aston Villa soccer team in the UK, and such East End properties as the Reform Club, Mezzaluna Amg., Amagansett Square and Amagansett Applied Arts. The focus of the current investigation by town attorneys is whether or not the new hotel and restaurant were permitted to open without proper (or any?) approval by the town planning board. Sharkey, 46, unexpectedly died at his Amagansett home on July 6 of 'an unknown cause'.
The renovations of both properties were handled personally by Sharkey without the input of the Building Department staff, seemingly allowing changes made to the structures go unnoticed in town records. (The Star looks back to the early 1900s to prove undocumented changes have been made - an impressive, extensive feat.) While the Reform Club's construction was significantly more serious than that of Mezzaluna Amg., it's believed that the renovations that took place happened without any sort of review. The same LLC traced back to Lerner owner the Upper East Side eatery as well.
An item of note: The Reform Club seems to derive its name from somewhere other than the hotel's desire to 'change' you during your stay. Lerner's Reform Acquisitions Limited, a UK corporation, is listed as the owner of the Aston Villa FC, and is the named owner of a West End Road home lived in by Lerner's mother. Sharkey represented the company in 2006 while 'moonlighting' as a private consultant for Lerner's mother, who hoped to avoid a variance for a pergola built in her backyard. The town denied permission and the issue is still being handled by courts. Needless to say, this story seems to be very far from over.
· Reform Club Redo Was Without Review [EH Star]
· The Reform Club Invites Your to 'Change' Before Checkout [CH]
· All Mezzaluna Amg. Coverage [CH]