The historic Village Latch Inn Hotel in Southampton Village is in contract to be sold to developer George Benedict and his partner, Steven Dubb, with condominiums likely replacing the inn—though two century-old buildings will be restored. Mr. Dubb, with The Beechwood Organization, and Mr. Benedictalso worked together on Bishops Pond, a luxury condominium development in the village.
On a village property totaling a little more than 5 acres, the estate had been owned by Marta and Martin White for more than 40 years and sat on the market for several years, most recently with a $23 million price tag. It is unclear exactly what it ultimately sold for.
“I think … what they’re trying to accomplish is very low-density condos,” said Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley, who also lamented the impending loss of transient housing in the village. However, he added, in order for a new hotel operator to make a return in investment, an expansion of rooms, and services, such as a restaurant and spa, would be necessary. Space for that kind of expansion might require the operator to also purchase the neighboring Southampton Inn, which is not for sale.
In addition, such add-ons would heavily impact an already traffic-laden location on Hill Street. “It’s always crowded in that area—the traffic flow on and off the property would be a challenge,” said Mr. Epley, who is in the delicate position of also being Mr. Benedict’s son-in-law.
Mr. Benedict declined to comment on the sale until plans for the site were finalized, but he said that “the front two buildings will be restored 100-percent to their natural splendor,” referring to the main house and the Terry Cottage. “It’s in a historic zone, and I want to make sure it stays the way it is,” he said.
The Whites were unavailable for comment, but in September, when rumors of the sale were swirling, Ms. White hinted at what she believed to be the fate of her property once it sold.
“I see condominiums are coming in, so the village is getting what they want,” she said at the time. Condo owners contribute to the tax base but often have a lighter effect on resources, because the residents tend to live in them only part-time. “I assume the Latch will be going that way,” she said. “I do think this is the end of an era.”
Located on the north side of Hill Street just a block from bustling Jobs Lane, the main house for the Latch Inn, with its Great Gatsby-like appearance, has 67 rooms. Operating as a hotel since 1901, and one of the only inns in the area, the estate features seven separate buildings, a pool and a tennis court.
“I think it’s the best option for the site,” said Mr. Epley, referring to the plan for condos. “As much as I’d like to see it stay a transient use there, it’s not a reality.”