Why does Plum Island have to Change?
For more than 20 years, Plum Island has been pretty stable. Yes, there have been a lot of new people moving in and building huge beach homes on tiny parcels of land. There have been plenty of folks who have smartly raised their houses to protect them from the vicious stormy seas of the Atlantic. Shacks occasionally fall into the ocean or fall apart from the winds and waves. But the island remains pretty much like it always has been, a summer outpost for middle class folks who love the beach and don't want to be in a large beach community. Plum Island remains small because it has no where to go. With the Parker River reserve taking up 2/3 of the barrier island, the homes and businesses are all crowded in a small space between the Parker River salt marshes in the basin and the open Atlantic. Just the way it should be.
But then some rich person discovered Plum Island and had a vision. A vision to make it upscale, to make it the newest beach getaway town of New Yorkers with a lot of money to buy up the homes, tear them down, and make Southhampton type modern homes in their place. This rich person was the wife of the chief executive of the clothing chain
But when she died two years ago at the age of 54, everything stopped. The commercial places remained closed, boarded up, and the citizens of the Island lost their gathering places. Even the food stand by the public beach, the only place on the Island to purchase something to eat right off the beach remains closed.
Her husband Julian Geiger pledged to follow through with her plans. He gave $1 million to the Newburyport domestic violence center, which was renamed the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center. He closed on the sale of the Beachcoma and Atty. May's, but for only $2.4 million, less than the former owner had expected. Julian Geiger has continued to run the hotel, which now rents rooms, in-season, for $300 to $1,000 a night. He opened the beachside food stand Jeanne's, the former Atty. May's, for the 2006 summer season but kept it boarded up this year.
Julian Geiger said that he intends to reopen Jeanne's but wants to renovate it into a year-round restaurant. He said he understands the frustrations of islanders who are waiting for the businesses to reopen. After his wife died, he said, his first priority was to keep the inn running and to follow through with purchasing the properties his wife had intended to buy.
Geiger doesn't understand that people have lived on the island, winterizing their cottages as they can afford it, for generations. They are fearful that their properties will become unaffordable to future residents if New Yorkers begin showing up in droves. Besides, doesn't New York have it's own beach front property. I think it's called Long Island. Stay down there, please.
If the rumors are true, that Geiger and Steven Karp, the billionaire Boston Developer who lives in a 20,000 sq foot home in Weston that I've been in (some day I'll describe it, but suffice it to say, it is so lavish that the RealEstalker would love to get in there and photograph it) might have plans in common for the redevelopment of Plum Island, we can expect a huge upscale mall, Karp's specialty, giant homes, and a CheeseCake Factory. Oh joy! Stumble It! JBlog Me