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Island Profile: Stacy Soloviev has a vision of the future for some of the Island’s iconic businesses

Stacy Soloviev likes to stay busy.

Early in her marriage, when her new husband began buying farmland in Kansas, she took on the care of the seasonal farmworkers and their families like a frontier farm wife. 

“I would do all the laundry for all the farmhands,” she said. “It was 110 degrees, so I set up a huge waterpark by putting down construction plastic, with a slip ‘n slide, and a baby pool for all their kids at the main headquarters. Food was two hours away, so I’d go do all the grocery shopping. When they came off the tractors at night, I had a whole taco bar set up.”

Stacey brought experience with farming and taking care of people from her childhood growing up in the West. But she had married Stefan, the son of Sheldon Solow, founder of a multi-billion-dollar real estate business, who she met after coming to New York to work as a nanny. 

“We really grew up together,” Stacey said. She and Stefan met at a party in the Hamptons near his family’s $20 million home. “I was 18, he was 22,” she said. “We were married six months later.” 

The family fortune was made in New York real estate and Stefan’s interest in farming was not shared by his father. Stacey and Stefan drove to Wichita, Kans., bought their first farm and started growing wheat. “The land cost $300 an acre,” Stacey said. “He paid it off with his first harvest.”

They had 11 children. Their first child, Christian, was born with a surrogate in 2002 when Stacey was 23.  “Three months after Christian was born, I got pregnant with quadruplets  — Kiki, Hayden, Quintin and Carson.  Then a surprise pregnancy with my daughter Bebe in 2004.”

She and Stefan went on to have five more children; twins who are now 13, a 9-year-old, an 8-year-old and a 7-year-old, all born with a surrogate. In 2014, she and Stefan split up after 18 years of marriage, and Stacey moved to Garrison, N.Y.

In Garrison Stacey built and ran Shea Tree a wellness center. But one day she got a call from Stefan asking her to move downstate to help him manage one of his acquisitions on the North Fork, where he had already amassed about1,000 acres of farmland. He had purchased a tree farm in Cutchogue, and wanted her to run a gift shop on the property that seemed to be important to the local community.

Stacey flew into action, got Santa’s Christmas Tree Farm up and running in time for the season, and went on to put her touch on the company’s next acquisition, the Peconic Bay Vineyard.

When Stacey stepped onto the wide wrap-around porch at The Chequit on Shelter Island, shortly before it was to be sold at auction, she took one look at the view of Dering Harbor, and was a goner, she said. It was a view she had admired many times on visits to Shelter Island with her kids from her home in East Hampton,where she still lives. She called her ex-husband, and asked him to buy the inn, convincing him that it was too rare an opportunity to pass up. 

“Did he know what he was getting into with the Chequit?” Stacey said, noting that renovations cost a lot more than she’d thought: “No. He would not have bought it.”

The response of the Shelter Island community to the purchase and renovation of The Chequit was positive at first. But recently Stacey’s efforts at communication and outreach have been complicated by a subsequent deal for an another iconic local property — Jack’s Marine  — and two more in the pipeline.

These sales have left Islanders worried about the long-term fate of The Chequit and her other iconic properties once Stacey moves on.  “I’m not a person who does paperwork or management things,” she said. “As far as managing things, that’s Soloviev group. I just don’t think that would not be a good use of my time.”  The worries have recently been supercharged by the word the newly-hired Shelter Island Town attorney also represents the Soloviev Group.

Stacey takes issue with the view that the company she works for intends to develop or expand, the businesses.  “Everything that we have purchased are existing businesses,” she said. “They have already been established; the number of rooms is not changing, the seats in the restaurants are the same. I’m just trying to preserve them.”

Stacey says she loves Shelter Island and wants to build and renovate in harmony with what is already here. “I have always felt that change happens at the ground level. I build the community that I want to live in,” she said. “Shelter Island is like a womb. You feel very good when you come to Shelter Island.”

Lightning Round — Stacey Soloviev

What do you always have with you? Hand lotion

Favorite place on Shelter Island? On Bridge Street looking out into Dering Harbor.

Favorite place not on Shelter Island? Portofino. 

When was the last time you were elated? I was just in Russia with two of my sons, ice skating in Red Square.

What exasperates you? When my youngest daughter keeps repeating the same thing over and over.

When was the last time you were afraid? I got COVID last March and it was bad. I could not breathe.

What is the best day of the year on Shelter Island? The day of The Chequit tree-lighting ceremony

Favorite movie or book? A Wrinkle in Time. I read it every year when I was little.

Favorite food? Tostadas.

Favorite person, living or dead, who is not a member of the family? Wayne Dyer