June 27, 2015
Sigelman - Jun 26, 2015
Auctioneer JJ Manning read the details of the sale as Mike Patten, wearing a black sweater,
and Harry Patten, seated in the background, looked on.
South Woods Farm,
the last remnant of the failed Down Island golf club, sold at auction Friday noon to Paul
Adamson, a Boston
area developer and Edgartown home owner, for $5,150,000. The sale was fast
paced and not without drama.
people, including bidders and the curious, gathered for the noon auction
president of JJ Manning Auctioneers, began the bidding of the failed Kupersmith
development off County Road in Oak Bluffs under a tent set up against the
backdrop of a pond, now just a sandy crater, that was to have been the
centerpiece of an equestrian-themed subdivision of 26 luxury home on 90
contoured acres in the midst of oak trees and pitch pines.
Companies, a family-owned network of companies based in Williamstown
with a long history and national track record of purchasing failed
developments, precipitated the sale after it purchased the mortgage from the
bank that was left holding the property once owned by Corey Kupersmith of Greenwich, Conn.
MIke Patten and his
father Harry Patten were on hand for the foreclosure auction. Their plan was to
sell the property in its entirety - if the bidding met their expectation - or
bid on the property, essentially buy it from themselves, then sell the 20
available residential lots and 2 open space lots individually.
people were present. Many were curious about the fate of a property that was
once the focus of a bitter land battle.
speedily progressed. Auctioneer JJ Manning asked, "Can I get an opening bid of
eight million, eight is what I'd like, can I get the eight now?"
Hearing no eight,
he said, "We can roll this down." He asked for $7 million. There were no
"All right, we'll
get it started now," he said. "Five million dollars is what I've got now."
From a chair
outside the tent came a "Hey," from Harry Patten.
"I've got a five
million dollar bid now," Mr. Manning said.
He pressed for $6
million, then $5.5 million. As Mr. Manning urged a higher bid Mr. Patten said,
"JJ, sell it."
withheld his gavel as he looked expectedly at a group of men standing on the
hillside outside the tent that included Mr. Adamson. There was a brief pause.
"Alright I've got a
five million dollar bid, do I hear the five-five now," Mr. Manning said. From
the hillside came a shout, "five one fifty."
continued to press.
"J.J. sell it," Mr.
Patten said emphatically.
With one final call
for bids and none forthcoming, the deal was done. One beneficiary of the sale
will be Oak Bluffs, which will now receive approximately $350,000 in back
taxes. The Martha's Vineyard Land Bank will receive a 2 percent transfer fee.
The auction ended
with paperwork. From left standing, Edgartown lawyer Fain Hackney, representing
Patten, Malcolm Barber, Chris Sage, Richard Combra, Paul Adamson and J.J.
Manning. Patten in house counsel Michelle Manners is seated.
chief executive officer of Patten Companies, told The Times he was pleased with
the sale. He said the price was fair and it made sense to sell the property in
its entirety to people with a connection to the Island.
Oak Bluffs seasonal
homeowner Chris Sage, one of the partners in the purchase, is the son-in-law of
Richard Combra, the former well respected Oak Bluffs selectman and a backer of
the golf course project. Mr. Combra said he heard about the sale and introduced
Paul Adamson, a close family friend, to the property and Mr. Adamson liked what
Mr. Adamson plans
to market the lots individually or in groups, Mr. Combra said, but has no plans
to build houses or create an equestrian theme.
South Woods Farm
was the remnant of the dream Corey Kupersmith of Greenwich, Conn. once held of
developing a golf course in Oak Bluffs on a swath of land now known as the
Southern Woodlands. The Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC), the Island's
powerful regional permitting body, dashed that dream. Now it will be up to the
new buyer to realize his vision for the property.
spectators Friday was Brian Lafferty, at one time Mr. Kupersmith's point man in
his ferocious verbal and legal battle with the Martha's Vineyard Commission.
Mr. Lafferty said
he came to watch the sale because it represented something of a last chapter.
"I wish these guys all the luck in the world," Mr. Lafferty said. "It was good
for the seller and good for the buyer. They bought it at a price that allows
them to do it right."
Mr. Lafferty said
he was proud of the original subdivision plan, which incorporated open space,
woodlands and views. "This certainly has the potential to be one of the best
subdivisions on the Island," he said.
Golf war history
The sale marked the
final chapter in the saga of the effort to build a new golf course in Oak
Bluffs that began when the 88-acre Webb's Camping Area, part of approximately
400 acres of land now referred to as the Southern Woodlands, went on the
The camping area
had been for sale for years. An offer by the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank was
refused, and in 1998 a golf course development company announced that it had an
option to purchase the property.
property the course developers needed for their project. The town of Oak Bluffs
was one of dozens of landowners of private landlocked parcels, many with
The company went to
work clearing titles and acquiring more parcels. When their efforts stalled,
Mr. Kupersmith, a wealthy golf enthusiast and pharmacy entrepreneur from
Greenwich, Conn., took over until he owned some 280 acres.
approached the town and MVC officials with a plan to develop an 18-hole golf
course, and offered a benefit package he thought would be eagerly embraced. At
one point the development included public walking trails, payments in lieu of
taxes, an offer to lease a portion of the former Webb's Camping Area to the
town at no cost for camping, and a permanent conservation restriction over the
At the same time,
two groups of rival developers were engaged in their own efforts to build golf
clubs. The backers of the Meeting House Golf Club adjacent to Edgartown Pond
ultimately gave up following MVC rejection of their plan, and joined with
backers of the Vineyard Golf Club, built on the site of a failed 148-house
subdivision off Edgartown-West Tisbury Road.
Land Bank held the
In March 2005,
capping years of fierce controversy over Mr. Kupersmith's various development
proposals, which included MVC rejection of three successive applications, and
numerous lawsuits filed against the commission, the Land Bank, Mr. Kupersmith,
and the MVC concluded a deal under which Mr. Kupersmith agreed to sell 190
acres of the Southern Woodlands to the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank for $18.6
million, contingent on MVC approval of his subdivision.
The luxury housing
development was intended to bridge the financial gap between what the Land Bank
was willing to pay - that is, approximately $100,000 per acre - and Mr.
Kupersmith's asking price of $26 million.
included a provision under which the Land Bank would swap a 24-acre rectangular
town-owned lot, known as the "doughnut hole" because it was landlocked, for
"more convenient acreage located elsewhere in the Southern Woodlands,
contingent on town meeting approval."
Despite a 2004
written agreement, the land swap has yet to happen. The potential sale of the
Kupersmith development does not involve any parcels in the land swap agreement.
with two model homes, but was halted after Mr. Kupersmith's financial
foundation fell apart.
In 2012, Farlap
Development Corp., the original development company controlled by Mr.
Kupersmith, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
valued at almost $5 million, reverted to People's United Bank of Connecticut,
which repeatedly offered to sell its right, title, and interest in the
property. Foreclosure auctions were scheduled and rescheduled due to Mr.
Kupersmith's legal entanglements. Then the Pattens stepped in.