Centerbridge Exec. Loses Bidding War For Strip Of Hamptons Land

Sep 6 2013 | 4:06am ET

Centerbridge Partners' Kyle Cruz just wanted a path to the sea for his Hamptons getaway. His neighbor, fellow financier Marc Helie, wanted to deny him it more.

Helie in May bid $120,000 for a one-foot-wide strip of land in Napeague, N.Y., besting Cruz's final offer of $115,000. The final offer—expected to be accepted by the Suffolk County Legislature next week—is especially impressive given that the county hoped to unload the 1,885-foot-long parcel for just $10, and opened the bidding at $1,500 when Cruz and Helie both expressed interest.

Cruz apparently hoped to add the strip, which runs from Montauk Highway to the beach, to give himself waterfront access. Cruz's home is behind Helie's waterfront property, which already features a narrow strip running from the road to the ocean on the east side of Cruz's property. Helie's new strip is on the west side of Cruz's property, effectively forcing Cruz to cross his land to reach the beach.

"I gathered one guy really did not want the other one walking over his property to the water," Suffolk County property manager Wayne Thompson told Newsday. "You know what water's worth…. You can say, 'Oh, yes, I have a right of way to the water.'"

Still, Thompson acknowledged that he'd never seen anything like the battle between Cruz and Helie, who works at Chevalier Investments. The two went back and forth 34 times before Cruz threw in the towel. The May 30 auction—whose results were disclosed only Wednesday—"caused quite a stir," Thompson said.

Suffolk County acquired the property in 2003 after its owner fell behind on taxes. The county offered the land—for $10—to the six people whose property abuts the strip. Only Cruz and Helie expressed interest.


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