It just wouldn’t be summer — or the tail-end of summer — here at MNN Home and Garden Land without a dispatch from the Hamptons, New York’s well-heeled vacation wonderland where hedge warfare, the egregious use of water for landscaping purposes, and wind turbine drama involving Alec Baldwin make for just another Ina Garten-catered day at the beach.

So here you go:

As reported by the New York Times, McMansions, which appear to be enjoying a nationwide renaissance as of late, are back in a big way on the far east end of Long Island where prolific plus-sized multimillion dollar home specialist, Joe Farrell of Farrell Building, has seen a brisk uptick in business in recent months. With over 20 humble abodes under construction or in development along with a scheme to build numerous spec homes, Farrell, an amiable former oil commodities trader whom the Times describes as a “local version of Donald Trump, without the history of debt, the lush hair, or the insults,” is basking in the glory of it all.

“We’re as busy as we’ve ever been,” says Farrell, who, while controversial, remains beloved by his clients and local contractors alike.

Naturally, Hampton residents who prefer their absolutely ginormous second homes to be a touch less cookie-cutter and who also eschew any sort of development that might harm the rural character of the area, are none to pleased with the the Hamptons McMansion boom — a full-on “Farrellization,” as some call it — spearheaded by a local builder who himself lives in a 17,000-square-foot pad complete with a bowling alley, skate ramp, and “A.T.M regularly stocked with $20,000 in $10 bills.”

Prior to the recession, Farrell’s bread and butter were spec homes that sold for as much as $20,000. Now, his homes fit snuggly in the $3 million to $10 million range. “Mostly, though, $3 million to $6. I love that market — there are probably 10 times as many people in that market than to buy an eight- or nine-million-dollar house, right?” explains Farrell, who is profiting just as much as he did in 2006 when the homes built by his company were a couple of thousand feet larger and decidely more luxurious.

Farell is simply pumping out more properties —“midsize mansions,” if you will — than previously and at a breakneck pace thanks to an efficient, in-house process that allows for completion of a new home — "most with cedar shakes, gambrel roofs and three-car garages with radiant heating"— in less than a year.

And herein lies the issue:

The accelerated pace of his building schedule is unwelcome news for Mr. Farrell’s local detractors, who view him as a major contributor to the attrition of farmland and a growing sameness in an area known for iconic homes built by famous architects like Norman Jaffe and Harry Bates.
Donna Paul, a Sag Harbor resident and matchmaker for architects and clients seeking to build custom homes, explains: “I’m concerned that the Farrellization of the Hamptons and the suburbanization of the Hamptons are linked. These are houses being punched out in record time, and that will make the tone and feeling of the Hamptons more generic.”

Quelle horreur!

Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic Paul Goldberger echoes Paul’s sentiments: “If I see one more shiny new gambrel roof, shingled house I’ll scream. It’s become a hopeless cliché, almost a blight.”

Farrell, however, is undeterred, staunch in the belief that he’s simply responding to customer demand: “Someone’s going to build them. I just happen to be building a lot of them, and people are buying them,” he explains. “The criticism also comes from people who already have the house, pool and tennis. Why shouldn’t the next generation or the next guy have the house, pool and tennis?”

Via [New York Times]

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Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

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