The commercial district in Fire Island Pines, the legendary resort town that’s been home to A-list gays for more than 40 years, went under the gavel on Thursday—and the top bidder was Ian Reisner, the developer behind a gay boutique hotel in New York, in partnership with P.J. McAteer, manager of the Pines’ nightclub Sip & Twirl.
A trio of investors, Andrew Kirtzman, Seth Weissman and Matthew Blesso, bought the commercial strip in 2010 for $17 million, but were forced to sink millions more into rebuilding after a blaze destroyed much of the property, including the Pavilion nightclub.
After no takers went for the initial asking price of $25 million, according to the New York Times, the resort went on the auction block.
“We made an important contribution to the legacy of the Pines, and I hope the next owners do even better than we did,” says Kirtzman. “After all, I’ll still be living here and want to go out.”
Reisner and McAteer reportedly paid $10.1 million for the property, which encompasses some 80% of businesses in the Pines. Bidding started at $8.5 million, less than half of what Kirtzman, et al, ponied up.
Reisner certainly has experience in the field—the Out NYC is centrally located in Hell’s Kitchen, where many Pines residents play and live during the rest of the year.
And he has a vision: He and his partners will spend $4 million over the next 18 months to “renovate and rejuvenate” the area.
But he also comes with baggage: In October, a 23-year-old manager of a gay bar was found dead in Reisner’s bathtub, the victim of an apparent accidental drug overdose.
The New York Daily News reported about Sean Verdi’s death:
Verdi met Reisner previously in clubland, his father said. Verdi was a manager at Bar-Tini Ultra Lounge in Hell’s Kitchen, his father said. It was from Bar-Tini that Verdi, Reisner and two friends left to go to Reisner’s pad, Colandrea said, citing information that he said cops told him.
When Verdi became physically distressed, Reisner and one of the two friends put him into the shower and then the bathtub, apparently in an effort to revive him, Colandrea said, once again citing information that he said came from cops.
“What was Sean doing in the bathtub?” the father questioned, dumbfounded.
It was not clear if Reisner made the call to 911 as soon as Verdi became ill or after the effort to revive him failed.
Also, in 2013, Reisner was arrested after hitting a parked car in the Hamptons and fleeing the scene. He was charged with driving while impaired.
The Pines has changed hands several over the years, and longtime residents have accused various owners of everything from overdevelopment to using the resort as their personal harem. We’ll have to wait until at least this summer to see how the iconic gay getaway fares in Reisner’s care.