Urbanistically, there’s actually a lot that’s right about Bay Harbour, a 10-lot subdivision begun in 2007 on the site of the Tides motel, 837 Commercial. To begin with, it’s closer in form to the local context than the Tides, whose two long slabs effectively blocked off more than 500 feet of waterfront for anyone who didn’t have a room there. Bay Harbour — in plan, at least — recalls the cottage colonies that brought so many people to Beach Point and that still account for much of its housing stock. The detached houses of Bay Harbour create multiple view corridors, to everyone’s benefit. There is an appeal to its density, too, recalling the sensibility of the town. No house looks quite like any other. And there are some smart Shingle style architectural flourishes here and there. The master plan is by Michael Winstanley Architects and Planners, the designers of 781 Commercial.
Yet, Bay Harbour still leaves one wishing for more — and much less.
Its fundamental problems might be summed up in its name: “Bay Harbour.” What does that mean? It’s one of those purely generic luxury brands, without connection to place. (At the very least, they could have called this Preston Cottages or Preston Woods or Preston Beach, or something based on the camp colony that used to stand here.) And what’s that “u” about?
These qualities typify the project. The architecture is generic. And there’s too much of it.
While the Shingle style is a fine inspiration, for instance, it’s not really a Provincetown type. And even if the houses of Bay Harbour are too small to qualify for McMansion status, they are still big — Beach Point cottages on steroids. Nowhere is this better illustrated than the gambrel-roofed two-car garage and studio apartment that comes with 5 Harbour Drive. It’s about twice as large as almost any one of the Ainsworth cottages a few yards away.
As an economic proposition, however, the developer Jason E. Stone of Mashpee declared victory in 2012, when he said that only one parcel remained on the market. “Bay Harbour has exceeded our own lofty expectations and the dismal real estate environment we’ve all experienced in the last four years, which shows that people appreciate quality and are willing to pay for it, in any market,” he was quoted as saying. (Kathy Sharp Frisbee, “Luxurious Home, Timeless Views,” The Cape Cod Times, 27 May 2012.)
When William A. Gordon prepared to close the Tides motel in 2005, the idea he had for a subdivision to take its place was one with 10 lots for which building plans had already been granted approval. The lots cost from $752,000 to $2.75 million. Four lots were sold, and in 2007, construction began on the first house: 2 Harbour Drive, close to Commercial Street. By this time, however, 27 abutters were challenging the project, saying the planned houses were too big. A recalculation based on information from the assessor’s office led to the floor area of the prospective structures being reduced by as much as 1,000 square feet, or about 20 percent.
The six remaining lots — 1, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10 Harbour Drive — were purchased in the summer of 2008 for just over $4 million by Stone and the Burden family. The Burdens and Chaces have been involved for four generations in the development of the exclusive New Seabury colony in Mashpee, beginning with Malcolm G. Chace Sr. in the 1920s. Chace’s great-granddaughter, Amanda Burden, a freelance television reporter for the CBS local news in Los Angeles, is Stone’s partner in Bay Harbour, but her interests are being managed by her father, Christopher Burden, of New Seabury Real Estate. (This Amanda Burden is not the Amanda Burden whom New Yorkers have known as chairwoman of the City Planning Commission during the mayoralty of Michael R. Bloomberg.) Stone and Burden reserved for themselves the two houses at the farthest corner of the parcel, Nos. 6 and 8 Harbour Drive.
That left four parcels to sell. Stone and Burden were about to close on a $3 million sale on 7 Harbour Drive in 2009 when the Federal Emergency Management Agency delivered a big dose of bad news about the newly remapped flood zone. Bay Harbour was in the zone, meaning that buyers would have to obtain very expensive flood insurance and the basements already constructed could not be occupied but would have to be filled with sand. (Pru Sowers, “New Flood Zone Regs Make It Tough for Provincetown Tides Developers,” The Banner/Wicked Local, 23 August 2010.) The engineers working for Bay Harbour were eventually able “find a loophole in FEMA’s technical regulations that allowed them to raise the floor of each basement by 18 inches and install four sump pumps and an electrical generator instead of filling the spaces with six feet of sand,” Sowers wrote. “The construction cost approximately $30,000 per house but it allowed Bay Harbour’s flood map rating to change to a ‘C,’ meaning the new owners will not be required to purchase flood insurance and they can keep their basements.”
1 Harbour Drive
2 Harbour Drive
3 Harbour Drive
5 Harbour Drive
6 Harbour Drive
7 Harbour Drive
8 Harbour Drive
10 Harbour Drive