Brookhaven Condemns Hotel Fire Island Pines Prior to Memorial Day Weekend

The Hotel Fire Island Pines as seen in 2018, detail from a file photo taken by Robert Sherman.

By Skylar Epstein

On Thursday, May 11, the Town of Brookhaven condemned The Hotel Fire Island Pines as a dangerous and unsafe structure for violating numerous building safety codes. Due to the condemnation order it is currently unlawful for any persons to occupy the hotel.

In a statement to the Fire Island News, Town of Brookhaven Spokesperson Jack Krieger said that building inspectors found several issues and that the town has engaged in “conversations with the owners” and their representatives “to bring the building into compliance.” The structure was determined to be unsafe based on an inspection by William Governali, a building inspector for the Town of Brookhaven, conducted the same date as the condemnation order.

The building’s condemnation notice specifically cites violations of the 2020 Fire Prevention Code of New York State, the 2020 Residential Code of New York State, and the 2020 Property Maintenance Code of New York State. Listed factors fueling these violations included S.P.M. 107.1.1 Unsafe Structure, S.P.M. 108.1 Imminent Danger, as well as five others.

When the company that owns the hotel, Outpost Pines LLC, was asked for comment on the condemnation of their hotel they said: “We have no comment. We are working with the town to figure out what to do.” It should also be noted that, according to publicly available court filings, Outpost Pines LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Thursday, Feb. 23, of this year. Chapter 11 bankruptcies typically involve the reorganization of debts in order to keep a business alive.

When asked how Outpost Pines LLC can get the condemnation order lifted, Krieger replied to Fire Island News by email that: “The owner needs to have a Professional Engineer evaluate the conditions that are in disrepair which are listed on the Condemnation Notice. i.e., sidewalks,

railings and foundation system.” Krieger also said that, “Once they submit an application for the repairs and receive a permit, a Building Inspector will perform an inspection to verify conformance with the proposed repairs are complete and acceptable the Condemnation will be lifted.”

Throughout its storied history the Hotel Fire Island Pines has been operated by several owners and gone by several different names since the original establishment of a hotel and yacht club in the area during the 1950s. According to the Fire Island Pines Historical Preservation Society the property was originally developed by Peggy Fears, a former Ziegfeld girl, at the urging of the Home Guardian Company of NY who wanted the property to lure home buyers to the area. The hotel was originally dubbed the The Botel by fashion model and actress Teddi Thurman.

In 1959, a fire burned the hotel and its associated yacht club to the ground over Memorial Day Weekend, but Fears had the yacht club hastily rebuilt by Reynolds Aluminum Company in time for Independence Day Weekend with the hotel also being rebuilt by the following season. In 1962, Fears sold the property to fashion model John Whyte who maintained the property as a destination for the rich and famous. In 1970, a pool was added to the property and it became the center piece of numerous fashion shows attracting big names in the fashion industry like Pat Cleveland and Wayland Flowers as well as many porn stars.

The property has been passed between several owners since Eric Von Kuersteiner bought it from Whyte in 2006. It was most recently leased to the Sharegurl organization, before finally falling under the control of Outpost Pines LLC. This is the history of the property as told by the Fire Island Pines Historical Preservation Society. However, the future of the property remains uncertain.