Builder Profile Steven Dubb, Living the Highlands Life



“As a builder on the South Fork and on the North Fork, two really beautiful places, you want to do something that’s going to enhance the beauty of those areas and not detract from it, not change the character of it. I think it’s always a challenge.”

For Steven Dubb, President of the Beechwood Organization, it’s a challenge he has welcomed, starting a few years ago in Southampton and now growing northward with The Highlands Club. “I discovered the North Fork two years ago, and I was struck by just how beautiful it is—the rolling farmland, far less development, far less crowded than the South Fork, and I thought, this is really a beautiful place to live,” he says. “There’s nothing else left on Long Island like that anymore.”

Spoken like a man with his feet, and his heart, on both forks. Beechwood created its first luxury condominium project on the East End at Bishops Pond in 2013, offering the allure of not only beautiful homes but a life enjoying the likes of a pond-side pool, a private fitness center, strolling Southampton Village and biking to Coopers Beach. Now with their first foray on the North Fork, Dubb notes how The Highlands has drawn buyers moving out from New York City and up-island, full-timers and those buying summer homes, as well as folks from Southampton and Water Mill and Westhampton who’ve “sold their houses there and are looking for some peace and quiet again, or even buying a home to occupy in the summer while they rent their homes in the Hamptons.”

Golfing, boating, Long Island Wine Country…the goal at the Highlands Club is to capitalize on the best the North Fork has to offer. For all the region’s growing popularity, there remain a few surprises for would-be buyers. “I think people are surprised by the extent of the lifestyle that the North Fork offers,” Dubb says. “I think they come with this preconception that it’s going to be a house and farmland and that’s it, but there’s such accessibility and year-round
activities up there.”

The success of The Highlands Club is a testament to both meeting the demands of a market and the state of the overall real estate market itself, now feeling far removed from the economic meltdown of 2008. “Overall, 2013 was the year that things turned around for us,” Dubb says. “We opened our Bishops Pond project in Southampton in May of 2013, and we were really unsure what we were going to get, and what actually happened exceeded our wildest expectations. We sold 52 houses in the first year and raised prices six times, and that was really a turning point, because for seven years before that we were just in the doldrums of the housing market.”

There is a discernible pride in Dubb’s voice as he speaks of the business that his family has built over the past three decades, a company that is increasing its presence on the East End and also has “about 2,000 homes in the pipeline in different projects west of the Shinnecock Canal,” he says. “Thirty years of experience helps in a lot of ways,” he says. “All of that know-how and knowledge. A lot of people have a fear of buying a new-construction house from a builder who is going to turn around and walk away…The longer we’re around, the more you realize how valuable your reputation is.”

He pauses, then there’s a slight chuckle in his voice. “Overall, in the good times like we’re in now, everybody and his cousin becomes a builder. My father says you know when the doctors are building spec houses that you’re near a peak, and I think we’re probably at that point in the Hamptons.”

For all the strength of Beechwood’s past, Dubb is focused on moving forward with every step, especially at The Highlands Club, where “we wanted to attract a more sophisticated buyer,” he notes. A key to that goal is not only curb appeal, but the interiors they have created. “We got so good at doing them at Bishops Pond that it was easy to replicate them at Highlands,” he adds, noting how homes have become increasingly lifestyle-focused in design. “Now at a minimum a home has nine-foot ceilings, we offer extensive wood floors, beautiful kitchens, stainless steel appliances, extensive trim—people’s expectations of what they want have changed in the last 20 years.

“We work with top designers, they’re really on-trend,” he continues. “Sometimes we’re able to introduce new concepts that people didn’t even know they were looking for. Your average buyer walking through the door isn’t thinking ‘I’m really looking for a free-standing tub,’ but when they see it they go, ‘Wow that’s great.’ The same goes for the extensive trim we put in our houses, and when they see what we do, they fall in love with it.”

The experience with The Highlands Club has Beechwood “looking to do more projects on the North Fork, but they have to be the right projects,” Dubb says. “I appreciate that area so much that I do not want to be part of taking a farm and putting up a hundred homes and ruining it. In Southampton, it’s the same idea. I don’t want to take virgin land or farmland or woods and bulldoze it down and build new houses. So to me it’s finding the projects in Southampton or the Hamptons that are maybe pieces of land that are underutilized, or whose use has passed them by, and repurposing them for some interesting types of housing. That’s kind of the way we did it at Bishops Pond.”

Building upon wisdom of experience, Dubb offers a key bit of advice for any home buyers—to keep an eye open for “fly-by-night builders, people who turn up in the good markets and disappear when things go bad. If you’re buying new construction, look for experience in your builder, look for reputation, look for some referrals, because you want to buy a house from somebody who’s going to be there years down the road, not somebody you won’t be able to find. And don’t settle for anything other than a view you really love.”

Of course, a look at the local environs and love is already in the air. “To me it’s very simple. On the North Fork and on the South Fork, it’s just in incomparably beautiful place to live. That’s the sale. Do you want to wake up every morning and look out at the woods, the farmland, the farmers markets, the Sound? In my mind, there’s just nothing else like it.”

courtesy beechwood