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In the biggest real estate transaction ever for Fire Island, a trio of New Yorkers have purchased the business district in the gay summer community Fire Island Pines -- including a nightclub, hotel, grocery store, gym, and two restaurants -- for $17 million.
The men behind the purchase are 36-year-old investor Matthew Blesso (named one of New York's top bachelors by Gotham magazine), 48-year-old New York-based journalist Andrew Kirtzman, and 26-year-old real estate investor Seth Weissman. Doing business as FIP Ventures, the men purchased the properties from Eric von Kuersteiner and his partner, Anthony Roncalli, who bought the retail properties from real estate financier John Whyte in 2004 for about $5 million. According to a January 2010 prospectus sent to potential investors, FIP planned to put up $2 million themselves, borrow $10 million, and seek the remainder in investments.
Of the expected changes coming to Fire Island, FIP Ventures will be "updating some resources that have been undervalued and underused," said Brian McIver, FIP's publicist. "[FIP] has been working toward this all along." McIver declined to discuss specific changes to Fire Island's retail establishments, saying only that "food services" were something the new buyers would be focusing on. The assets that FIP purchased include the Blue Whale and Bay Bar restaurants, which by all indications will be upgraded, as well as the Pavilion nightclub, and the Hotel Ciel, formerly known as The Botel.
Fire Island, a 31-mile-long barrier island located south of New York's Long Island, has been a major vacation destination since the mid 20th century. Fire Island Pines and neighboring Cherry Grove are the two predominantly gay communities on the island.
The Pines achieved notoriety last year when a group of friends (pictured) vacationing on the island posted a spoof of Miley Cyrus's "Party in the USA" on YouTube. It was titled "Party in the FIP"; Cyrus later tweeted that she was "obsessed" with the video.
Village Voice columnist Michael Musto said he was glad the vacation spot seems to be flourishing. "This influx of new energy and money is going to make it sparkle again," Musto said.
Musto's only concern is the restaurants, hotels, and stores increasing their prices. "We don't want pretentious taste levels to permeate Fire Island," he said. "I hope [FIP] finds a middle ground where things are given a new sheen but don't reach beyond the affordability levels of most people."