Nowhere to Go but the Water

Up for auction, but ‘they should tear it down’
A Lazy Point property mortgage that is financially underwater and the house it covers can be yours at an auction to be held on the steps of Town Hall Tuesday. T.E. McMorrow

The mortgage on the property at 153 Mulford Lane in Lazy Point, Amagansett, is underwater, and the house there may soon follow. It goes on the auction block Tuesday outside East Hampton Town Hall, where the high bidder gets to assume the roughly $977,000 debt owed to Hudson City Savings Bank, plus interest.

In return, he or she will be able to roll out of bed at dawn and take a quick dip in Gardiner’s Bay. But buyer beware: The bedroom could be at the bottom of the bay before long.

“They should just tear it down,” Linda Badkin, a neighbor, said Sunday. She was out on her deck, two houses north of the distressed property, taking advantage of a sunny spring day to repair some planks. “The bank should cut their losses.”

The property is tiny, about 5,000 square feet. There is nowhere to move the erosion-endangered house, because a neighbor’s driveway runs right behind it. The neighbors, Joshua Young and Christine Lemieux, fought the town in court for the right to build a revetment to hold back the bay, but lost. However, they can move their house if it becomes necessary. 

The former owner of 153 Mulford is Kevin Klenke, who purchased it with his wife in 2005 for $1.2 million. In 2007, Hamptons Cottages and Gardens wrote that “A neglected beach house on Napeague Bay caught the eye of Leigh and Kevin Klenke. It needed a miracle to transform it into what it is today. But the wife, with miracle worker and designer Tom Samet, had the vision. It was completed in record time.”

  The result was a two-bedroom house with two bathrooms, a large living room area, and a wraparound deck, all decorated in a nautical theme.

That was then. This is now. Ms. Klenke has died. The bank foreclosed on the property in November. Every major storm, Ms. Badkin said, takes away up to four feet of shoreline. Water now laps over the rocks beneath the front deck.

Ms. Badkin pointed at an often-photographed house on stilts, standing in the water about 30 yards out from the beach. When she bought at Lazy Point, she said, she could walk to it. “They should tear that down, too. It is an eyesore.”

The owner of the stilt house reportedly paid $1 for it. Ms. Badkin did not know his name, but said he still tries to maintain the structure, going so far recently as to replace part of the roof that had rotted through. “He thought he could make a fishing shack out of it,” she said.

The interior of the Klenke house appears bare, stripped of all fixtures and furnishings. The steps to the front door are gone, and a note pinned to the door warns that the bank has declared the place vacant. The roof appears to be sagging.

And it can all be yours at 1 p.m. Tuesday. Hudson City Savings Bank declined to say what would happen to the property if it does not sell.