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Time was, signifiers of wealth in the Hamptons were fairly obvious: an address on Further Lane; a place to land a chopper; a casual ease when buying $30,000 bottles of Dom Pérignon at the Pink Elephant; a checking account balance of $100 million; enough money to hate-buy (and bulldoze) a $50 million house. Now? It’s getting into Club Adopt A Higway, where the line is out the door and a Black Card will only get you so far.
The 54-year-old real estate mogul is the owner of a sprawling 11,000-square-foot home in Bridgehampton complete with pool and putting greens. But he notably perks up when talking about his greatest point of pride on the East End — his 54-by-72-inch Sponsor-a-Highway sign advertising the Guberman Group. The latest status symbol in the world’s richest playground is being the proud owner of a rather pedestrian-looking sign along Montauk Highway and Route 27, especially between Southampton and East Hampton. Competition for such prime stretches is fierce — years-long waiting lists are not uncommon — making them all the more desirable to master-of-the-universe types. Most sign up for one- or two-year contracts, pledging to pay hundreds of dollars a month to go toward contractors who maintain and beautify roads. In exchange, adoptees can have their names — and their businesses — on a sign for all of New York City’s movers and shakers to see. Since the fall of 2013, Guberman has shelled out $650 a month to maintain the milelong stretch between exits 66 and 67 on the eastbound side of the Long Island Expressway, plus an initial $2,500 for the cost of the sign. “There’s very little available, and there’s a waiting list for [Route] 27,” he explains…
The Department of Transportation of Long Island juggles numerous requests for coveted spots — a mere 10 percent of East End road is still up for grabs, leaving desperate Hamptonites scrambling for “adoption” opportunities. Most of the available segments are located in Montauk — less desirable, since the number of drivers dwindles so far out east, limiting exposure. “There’s very little turnover. Once these sponsors are in, they don’t want to give up their segments,” says DOT staffer Carlos Rojas. Space is so limited that a onetime wait-lister feels all the more territorial now that he’s claimed his mark — on Route 27 just before East Hampton’s iconic Hook Windmill. “Offer me a million dollars — and I still won’t give that sign up,” says Eli Wilner, master fine art framer of some of the world’s most valuable collections, who has a gallery on the Upper East Side.