Stacey Soloviev plans the North Fork Winery Resort
As summer draws to a close but the Hamptons market remains warm, the Soloviev group is preparing to grab a bite of North Fork.
Stacey Soloviev, ex-wife of Soloviev group chairman Stefan Soloviev, envisions a 40-key boutique hotel on his Peconic Bay vineyard in Cutchogue. Her ex-husband bought the 53-acre winery in 2019, where Soloviev hopes to develop the hotel as a “total immersion in wine”.
Customers can expect to help harvest and bottle the latest vintages, cook with visiting chefs, and enjoy food and wine pairings with their meals.
In addition to the main building, the resort will include between five and eight separate poolside bungalows, a spa, and 12,000 square feet of roadside retail stores. Soloviev says she doesn’t have any retail tenants yet, but wants a wine, cheese and caviar store to complement the vineyard, as well as a general store.
Soloviev reopened the estate’s tasting room in May after an eight-year hiatus. The project has joined its crowded plate of local projects, alongside running the iconic Santa Claus Christmas Tree Farm in Cutchogue, which Stefan Soloviev bought for $ 1.8 million in 2019, and overseeing a recent gut renovation at the Soloviev Group 37 Keys Checkit Inn on Shelter Island.
Soloviev enlisted New York architect Glen Coben – whose company, Glen & Company, specializes in luxury hotels, restaurants and residential units – to design the new complex. She also aims to bring in chef Noah Schwartz, who is already working on the Checkit, to run a five-star restaurant on site.
With the new hotel, the Soloviev Group is poised to capitalize on the region’s vibrant wine scene and its growing status as an alternative to the more exclusive enclaves of the Hamptons.
âPeople are starting to compare it to Sonoma 20 years ago, where you could really get away from it all and not get bogged down with massively touristy people,â said Erik Warner, co-founder of Eagle Point Hotel Partners. Warner’s company has purchased and renovated two hotels in North Fork – the Soundview and the Harborfront Inn – since 2016.
The North Fork has long been the sleeping agricultural counterweight to the glitzy Hamptons scene. But during the pandemic, as booming sales and low availability made the Hamptons more exclusive than ever, many potential visitors began to look north.
Even with increased demand, the North Fork housing stock, especially for vacationers, has not kept pace.
âThere is a shortage of hotels. The North Fork is growing tremendously, but a lot of the growth is in residential and commercial, not so much in hotels, âsaid Michael Hershman, CEO of the Soloviev Group. âWe saw it as an opportunity to expand our hotel group.
As more and more visitors brought Michelin stars and traffic jams, they also increased the blood pressure of preservation-conscious locals. And Southold County’s zoning code translates some of this development skepticism into explicit government policy, with large swathes of the region dedicated to low-density residential sprawl.
âIt’s very difficult to develop on the North Fork,â Warner said. âIt will always be difficult to develop on North Fork, as few lots are zoned for hotels. “
Soloviev showed her initial plans to Southold officials, who she said were “very receptive”. However, she recognizes that it will be essential to obtain the approval of the inhabitants.
âIt’s very difficult and that’s why from the start I include them. I don’t want to spend a lot of money on design if it’s something they’re going to fight me for, âshe said.
Hershman acknowledges that community pushback could be a problem. âThere is nothing being built on the North Fork that does not have some level of community concern,â he said. Still, he maintains that the hotel will scale to the neighborhood.
âWe’re talking about a boutique hotel: maybe 40 rooms, 45 rooms,â Hershman said. âI hope the community will see this as an added value for each of them. “
But even as the Cutchogians retreat, Soloviev holds a trump card: his vineyard is divided into residential and commercial areas, with the area along the road intended for commercial purposes. This gives Soloviev nearly six acres of zoned commercial land on which to build the hotel as of right. According to the city’s zoning code, the development could cover 30% of the land – just over 74,000 square feet – and grow up to 35 feet tall.
Still, Coben says they plan to build a lot less than that.
âWe don’t want to maximize the square footage of what’s allowed. We want to start from the point of view of what is respectful, in terms of the correct use of the territory, and ensuring that there is enough space between each of these programmatic elements, âhe said.
The project is still in its early stages. âMy hope is that the permit will take a year, then the construction will take 18 months, but obviously that’s a guess,â she said of her schedule.
If all goes well, the Soloviev group wants to continue expanding its footprint on the North Fork. The company already operates 123 acres of vineyards in the region and plans to plant 24 more in the spring.
âWe have a lot of room to grow,â Hershman said.