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Better Use for Barn

Thu, 05/09/2024 - 09:43


The plain old barn opposite the Long Island Rail Road’s long-term parking on Railroad Avenue in East Hampton isn’t exactly what you’d call a landmark. It’s nothing special, as old barns go; no Revolutionary War colonel mustered his men in it, and it never housed any secret-society meetings of suffragettes (at least as far as we know). But, with its prominent position opposite this transportation hub and at the confluence of what has become a well-traveled back route, it functions as a landmark in the geographical sense.

You know exactly which barn we’re writing about, don’t you?

We snapped to attention when this shingled relic appeared on the real estate market recently, priced at $3.5 million. It sits on a third of an acre between Fresno Place and King Street, and is listed as 4 Fresno Place. Its provenance is somewhat murky, except to say that it followed the traditional path of industrial spaces in swiftly gentrifying neighborhoods, transitioning from its original use, possibly a warehouse for offloading from the railroad, to use by an artist. The late Alexander Bainbridge, a sculptor and fine woodworker who used to drive around in a pickup with a sign that identified him as “the Manic Prince” on the cab door, had his studio there in the 1980s and 1990s.

This is an opportunity that should be seized by a local nonprofit, for the greater good.

Our gears started whirring as we perused the listing on the Douglas Elliman website. Is this the right location for the South Fork’s first indoor, year-round farmers market, like the one run by the East End Food Institute in Riverhead? (Can’t you visualize parking in one of the long-term spots, grabbing a coffee and a cinnamon bun, and catching up with friends there?) Or might this be a good home for the Anchor Society’s proposed general store? We’re not suggesting that the Village of East Hampton encumber itself with yet another unwieldy old structure, but that the town and village collaborate with one of our worthy nonprofits, as operator and/or overseer, to make something wonderful happen. Perhaps the community preservation fund, which does encompass historical preservation, too, might come into play.

Our community is in need of community hubs, public spaces where people can come together. This is a vanishingly rare real estate opportunity that we’d all be rather sorry to see turned into another high-end restaurant or realty office. We’d love to hear from you, our readers, if you have any brilliant ideas!


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