Billionaire's Beach House Demolished As Erosion Claims Latest Structure Along South Shore

Jason Graziadei •

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All that remained of billionaire Barry Sternlicht's beach house near Cisco on Tuesday was some scattered wood, a dumpster, and an empty hot tub.

The structure was torn down by a pair of excavators after years of erosion left Sternlicht with no options but to demolish the three-bedroom home that sits between Hummock Pond and the Atlantic Ocean. As we reported earlier this year, the beach house had been on steel girders for four years in the hope it could be moved. But Mother Nature had other plans, as storms claimed a wide swath of beach dunes in front of the residence.

Unable to retreat any farther on the eroding property or move it to an entirely new location, Sternlicht filed for an emergency demolition permit earlier this year, which was unanimously approved by the Nantucket Historic District Commission last month. Sternlicht, 63, is the co-founder and CEO of the investment fund Starwood Capital Group as well as founder of Starwood Hotels and Resorts. According to Forbes, he has a net worth of $3.8 billion.

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Sternlicht is also the owner of two properties in the remote location near Cisco Beach. He first purchased 289 Hummock Pond Road out of foreclosure in 2010 for $610,000. Nine years later he acquired the adjacent property at 287 Hummock Pond Road for $1.3 million. His plan, according to a 2020 Vanity Fair article about the situation, was to tear down the home and garage at 287 Hummock Pond Road and move the 1,800-square-foot home at 289 Hummock Pond Road to that lot. But storms and erosion intervened. The surf kicked up by Hurricanes Paulette and Teddy in the fall of 2020 wiped out a significant portion of the beach and access road, forcing the demolition of the home and garage at one property, and the move of the remaining home onto steel girders - where it has remained ever since.

Sternlicht's neighbor on the south shore is a fellow billionaire - investor James Pallotta - who owns the property next to the home that was demolished on Tuesday and is similarly facing the threat of erosion. The two men were among the small group of Nantucket seasonal residents who stepped up to buy the Dreamland Theatre and create the non-profit foundation that runs the film and performing arts center today. They have given generously to numerous other island causes and organizations over the years.

Here is how Sternlicht's house looked last month, before Tuesday's demo:

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289 Hummock Pond Road circa 2010. Photo via Emeritus Nantucket
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How the two properties looked in 2019 when Sternlicht acquired 287 Hummock Pond Road for $1.3 million. Source: Nantucket GIS
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How they look today. Source: Nantucket GIS

Toscana working on the property at 289 Hummock Pond Road in the fall of 2020 after severe erosion.

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