Chequit to be sold if variances for pool, patio are granted

PETER BOODY PHOTO | The Chequit is slated to be sold if variances are granted for a pool and patio.

Chequit owners James and Linda Eklund have an agreement to sell the Chequit to Cape Advisors, Inc., a New York City- and Cape May, New Jersey-based real estate management company, if the Zoning Board of Appeals grants variances to allow the construction of a pool and patio and the relocation of the “Summer Cottage” on the property at the corner of Grand Avenue and Washington Street.

The would-be buyer lobbied Heights residents for their support of the Eklunds’ application on Saturday at a private meeting that was called by representatives of Cape Advisors. Residents were told the deal would fall through if the variances aren’t granted. The Heights Property Owners Corporation is officially on record opposing the Eklunds’ application.

It was evident to those invited to the meeting — neighbors of the Chequit Inn, board members of the Shelter Island Heights Property Owners Corporation (HPOC) and members of its Property and Road Committee — that without ZBA approval of the Eklunds’ application, there would be no deal on a sale, according to Deborah Grayson, a member of the Property and Road Committee, who attended.

The Eklunds’ proposed pool patio would be located 10 feet from the frontyard line on Washington Avenue and the pool would be 16 feet from the same line. The relocated cottage would be set back 11 feet from the front lot line. A 40-foot setback is required for each.

The weekend meeting was the second to have been held by Cape Advisors, according to Ms. Grayson. She didn’t attend the first meeting last month.

The purpose of the second meeting, as Ms. Grayson understood it, was to hear from sound experts — one hired by the Eklunds and the other by HPOC — to address concerns about noise a pool might cause. That was an issue raised by HPOC and neighbors when the case was first aired before the Zoning Board in November; that hearing was held over to last night, Wednesday, December 14, for Mr. Eklund to bring in a sound expert to address noise concerns.

The Eklunds’ sound expert didn’t attend the private meeting at the Chequit, Ms. Grayson said. The Eklunds have maintained that a soundproof fence near the pool would contain noise.

In a brief phone interview this week, Mr. Eklund declined to elaborate on the pending sale, saying that he preferred not to comment until after the ZBA hearing held Wednesday night, after press time. (A story about the hearing will be posted on the Reporter website by Thursday morning at Mr. Eklund did confirm that any deal to sell the property would affect only the Chequit and not the Ram Head’s Inn, which the Eklunds also own and have tried to sell.

Despite a long-standing HPOC policy against the proliferation of pools in the Heights, Ms. Grayson said she believed there was a split between those who oppose the Chequit pool proposal and others who worry that the property might be abandoned and become derelict one day if the business cannot remain competitive. There has been no indication from the Eklunds that they would simply walk away from The Chequit Inn if the deal with Cape Advisors isn’t consummated.

“It’s become a very heated issue,” Ms. Grayson said. “I think Shelter Island is hot” as a destination and that if the deal with Cape Advisors fails to close there would be other potential buyers.

Julie Ben-Susan, general manager of the Shelter Island Heights Property Owners Corp., declined comment on the meeting at the Chequit.

Calls to Cape Advisors in New York City and to Cape Resorts Group in Cape May, New Jersey, went unanswered. A secretary at Cape Advisors confirmed that the two companies are related.

Cape Resorts Group operates properties that offer luxury accommodations, mostly in Cape May and Atlantic City. Its holdings include hotels, spas, gift shops and other resort area businesses. Cape Advisors, the parent group founded in 1995, is the same group that has been pushing a project to develop either a hotel or condominiums at the long-vacant former Bulova Watchcase Factory in Sag Harbor.

The company has been involved in the acquisition, development and management of commercial and residential real estate in New Jersey, New York and Utah.