From Bare-Bones to Boutique
A motel in East Hampton that once served as a de facto affordable housing complex is being transformed into a boutique hotel that is charging up to $907 for one night’s stay.
For the past few months, construction crews have been hard at work at 490 Pantigo Road, the site of the former Inn at East Hampton, a long, two-story structure that sits perpendicular to the highway and features a row of 11 guest rooms on each floor. As recently as 2016, the inn — which had been owned by Alex Demetriades — was renting the rooms unfurnished, for as little as $1,300 a month, to local workers, mostly Latino, who were unable to find an affordable home, apartment, or even a room in a shared house.
In a June 2016 article in The Star about residential life at the Inn at East Hampton, a few of its inhabitants discussed the bare-bones living conditions. Since most of the rooms lacked cooking facilities, many used electric hot plates and rice cookers to prepare meals. Small refrigerators were purchased to store food. Dishes were washed in the bathroom sink or the bathtub.
In 2015, the East Hampton Town fire marshal’s office received a complaint of overcrowding at the inn. Although that charge proved to be unfounded, officials did uncover 61 violations of the New York State Fire Prevention and Building Code. The fire marshal issued a statement saying that such violations created “serious life-safety hazards and fire hazards, all in violation of the code.”
The property has since been bought by Bridgeton Holdings, a Manhattan real estate development company that owns a portfolio of hotels and residential and commercial buildings in cities nationwide, including New York, San Francisco, and Boston.
Philip Cham, the company’s director of hospitality, said that he was vaguely familiar with the building’s checkered history, but added that “we’re not worried about the past, we’re looking to the future.”
The future, as the new owners have envisioned it, includes turning the Inn at East Hampton into Journey East Hampton, a hotel offering rooms with flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, luxury amenities, access to an outdoor swimming pool, and free continental breakfast. Eventually, the hotel will also have three guest cottages available on its neighboring property at 492 Pantigo Road.
According to Mr. Cham, Journey East Hampton passed its certificate of occupancy inspection on Friday, and the hotel’s opening day will be next Thursday.