|By Tony Dobrowolski, The Berkshire Eagle,
Pittsfield, Mass.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Mar. 3, 2010--LENOX -- Five months after it closed, the Eastover Resort and Conference Center has been sold to a group from outside the area that intends to maintain some form of a lodging establishment on the property, according to the company's attorney.
HG October Mountain LLC bought the sprawling 450-acre former Fahnestock Estate from Dorothy H. "Ticki" Winsor and her daughter, Betsy Kelly, for $3.6 million, according to documents on file at the Middle Berkshire Registry of Deeds. That price includes the real estate, which includes 25 buildings.
The total purchase price, which includes the furniture and fixtures, is just less than $5 million, according to Chapin Fish, the managing broker for William Brockman Real Estate in Monterey, which negotiated the transaction.
The new owners plan to operate the resort as the Eastover Hotel and Resort, he said.
Winsor's father, George J. Bisacca, founded Eastover in 1947 after purchasing the former Fahnestock Estate for $41,500 at auction the year before. Harris Fahenstock, a founding member of the First National Bank of New York, built the estate in 1910 as a summer cottage for his family. It was Fahnestock who named the main building Eastover.
The land, which is divided into parcels, is assessed at about $5 million by the town of Lenox. HG October Mountain LLC purchased 10 parcels, according to documents on file at the Registry of Deeds. Winsor said those parcels include everything except
personal property that she and Kelly own that is located on the other side of East Street from the main resort.
Attorney David Hellman, of Great Barrington, who represents the new owners, said HG October Mountain LLC will probably apply to the town for an innkeeper's license, and maintain some form of resort on the property. But Hellman said the new lodging operation probably won't be as extensive as the former Eastover's.
The new ownership group doesn't have a timetable set for a re-opening. Sprucing up the resort is first on the list.
"They haven't made a final determination," Hellman said, regarding the new owner's plans. "The property needs an incredible amount of tender, loving care and a lot of money to fix it up. Their first goal is to fix it up. Their plans after that are vague.
"They look at it as a sound investment," said Hellman, adding that the new owners do not intend to develop the land, and could make it available to town residents in some form, possibly as an athletic training facility for high school athletes.
"They're not developers," he said.
"They haven't told us specifically what they're going to do with it," Winsor said, "but to our knowledge, they're not developing it."
State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, who is a former town selectman, said he doesn't know what the new owners plans are, but was happy to hear that the resort won't be developed.
Over the years, Eastover hosted countless high school proms, company get-togethers, weddings, and field trips.
"It was a sad day when Eastover closed," Pignatelli said. "The Bisacca family was legendary in Lenox, and almost put the town on the map. I wish the new owners all the best. If there is any way we can help, we will."
Both Hellman and Winsor declined to identify the new owners. Winsor said the new owners had asked her to not disclose their identity as a condition of the sale, although she said that they are from outside the Berkshires.
Citing increased operating costs due to the slumping economy, Winsor announced last May that she would close the family-owned resort on Nov. 1.
Winsor said she never formally put the property on the market, but had received proposals from real estate agents all over the Northeast. They included operating Eastover as a resort with condominiums, or as a retirement community for senior citizens.
The proposal from the new owners stood out because "they seemed to have a love of the property and a respect for the history of it," Winsor said. "It seems to me that the property itself is going to remain as it has been and that respect we appreciate."
"It's a relief for me that it's sold," Winsor said. "But it's a strange feeling because now I don't go there every day."
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