DeUna Holdings: Bringing Sustainable Luxury Homes to The Hamptons
Can spec homes be beautiful, architecturally significant, luxurious, and sustainable? A visionary development company in The Hamptons, spearheaded by co-founders Hezi Mena and Stefano Braganti, says yes, they can.
Their firm, DeUna Holdings, is revolutionizing luxury housing in The Hamptons, where historically, sustainability has not been the driving ethos for most builders or their clients. Operating under the mission statement, "where luxury meets sustainability," DeUna has set its sights on transforming the future of home design and build on the tony East End. By leveraging cutting-edge technology and materials, the company offers high-end, net-zero homes without sacrificing comfort or luxury.
Mena and Braganti are committed to more than just financial returns; they aim to make a significant, measurable social impact. With a focus on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) ideals, their work leaves a positive mark on the communities they touch. Their three Hamptons homes currently in development, with one nearing completion, promise a luxurious lifestyle with low environmental impact. And the initial collection is just the beginning for this forward-thinking company; future plans call for additional spec and custom homes in this coveted market.
Meet the Visionaries
Michael: Let's start by getting to know you a little bit. Tell us about how DeUna Holdings started. How did your partnership begin?
Stefano: Our official partnership has been in place for a couple of years now, but our relationship extends far beyond that—around 12 to 13 years, to be precise. Interestingly, I began working under Hezi’s mentorship in my first job, and from there, our professional relationship became a friendship and eventually grew into this partnership.
Your company, DeUna Holdings, operates under the ethos, "where luxury meets sustainability." Tell us more about this vision.
Hezi: We are not just building homes; we're showing what it means to live luxuriously and responsibly in the 21st century. For us, "where luxury meets sustainability" isn't just a tagline—it's a philosophy that guides every decision we make. For a long time, these two ideals have been treated as mutually exclusive; we're proving that they can coexist. Why should a home that is beautiful and luxurious not also be self-sustainable and environmentally responsible? In our upcoming collection in the Hamptons, we are bringing this vision to life.
Tell us more about the first collection of homes in the Hamptons and what sets them apart!
Stefano: We’ve embarked on building three exquisite properties in the Hamptons, two in East and one in Sag Harbor. We're striving for consistency in design—each home spans approximately 7,000 to 11,500 square feet, and sits on a one- to 1.8-acre lot. All homes feature seven bedrooms and nine bathrooms. We have focused on incorporating wellness and quality of living with an array of upscale amenities such as wellness centers and gyms, infinity swimming pools, saunas, steam rooms, wine cellars, and home theaters. Each home is a masterpiece of modern design.
Hezi: From a materials standpoint, these homes are dramatically different than most, if not all, of the Hamptons inventory, due to their unique use of concrete as the homes’ primary structure. Concrete offers unmatched structural performance in a residential setting, yet is rarely used in American single-family builds, though it is overseas. Our concrete homes offer unparalleled strength and durability while significantly reducing energy consumption, further underscoring our commitment to sustainability.
Further in the vein of sustainability, the houses are powered by solar panels and supported by storage batteries, offering homeowners the luxury of almost non-existent electricity bills. We're connected to the grid, but not reliant on it. Instead, we see it as a backup, a safety net for the rare instances when the solar panels and storage batteries might not suffice. Each home is also equipped with a full suite of energy-efficient appliances from Miele.
You mentioned consistency in design programs. Is there a difference in the aesthetic design?
Hezi: Absolutely! Each home was designed by a different locally-known architect and varied in aesthetic design to harmonize with their specific locales. This is how we will also build going forward.
For instance, our East Hampton properties lean towards a more contemporary aesthetic, while the Sag Harbor residence resembles a modern farmhouse. We're sensitive to the existing architectural norms of the areas we build in, ensuring our homes complement their land and surroundings.
There is an intentional balance that is struck by maintaining core structural elements that are constant—such as square footage, amenities, and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms—while allowing the exterior and interior designs to be molded by the specific environment. This offers a unique yet cohesive portfolio of homes.
The first home in the collection, located at 8 Barnes Avenue in East Hampton, is just about complete— congrats! Tell us more about it!
Stefano: 8 Barnes Avenue is a 7-bed, 9-bath contemporary estate, sitting on over an acre of land and spanning nearly 11,000 square feet. It boasts beautiful white European Oak floors throughout and is filled with luxury amenities such as an EFFE sauna and steam room, filtered shower heads, a home theater, a wine cellar, an infinity pool, a jacuzzi and a sundeck, just to mention a few. The main living area is accentuated with floor-to-ceiling sliding doors that allow light and air to flow through the home, complemented by column-free interior spaces that create seamless transitions from room-to-room.
My favorite part of the home is the monumental 22-foot fireplace in the main living area, featuring supersize slabs of Premium Grigio Argento Marble hand-picked by the architect, Enrico Tognoni, and imported from the Italian quarries of Carrara. It’s on the market with Nest Seekers for $7,500,000. We are set to finish construction in February 2024. Anyone interested in learning more about 8 Barnes Avenue can visit the listing on the Nest Seekers website.
What are your plans for the other two homes?
Hezi: The two other homes in the collection are located at 1694 Millstone Road in Sag Harbor and 9 Blue Jay Way in East Hampton. They are designed by OEE Studio and DXA Studio, respectively. Both include all of the luxury amenities and eco-friendly design features we have mentioned and are only a few months behind 8 Barnes.
Shifting gears a bit, how is the current market affecting your business, and what kind of buyers are showing interest?
Hezi: The market remains strong in our price range, and is not significantly affected by rising interest rates. We're seeing a diverse pool of interest, including from international buyers, but one thing they all share is a passion for sustainability and architecturally significant design.
Are you looking for additional investors? What can you tell us about that?
Stefano: Yes, we are currently raising capital for additional development throughout The Hamptons. We have already identified sites and opportunities for development. If anyone is interested in learning more about DeUna, they can visit www.deunaholdings.com.
On a business note, as entrepreneurs in the luxury real estate sector, what advice would you give to others looking to break into the industry?
Hezi: Entrepreneurship is a challenging journey, but one that can be rewarding through meticulous planning and understanding of the inherent risks of building spec homes. I’d advise other builders to know their market inside and out; though we were initially drawn to the Hamptons by its natural beauty, by doing our research, we realized that the environmental ethos was not really at play in this market, and identified the opportunity to do something different there that truly helped push us over the hump.
Finally, on a more personal note, I am always interested in finding the best food in the best restaurants here and abroad. As someone with roots in New York and Italy, please share some of your favorite restaurant recommendations.
Stefano: Of course. In NYC, my go-to place is Piccola Cucina Uptown. It is hard to beat for authenticity, quality and ambiance. If you find yourself in Italy, especially Sicily, make sure to try the unique treat of granita served inside a croissant for breakfast. You will not be disappointed!
Hezi: Stefano and I disagree about the best Italian in the City! For me, Il Buco can do no wrong! And they recently opened an outpost in the Hamptons, called Il Buco Al Mar, in Amagansett. Each Labor Day, they kick off the summer with a barbeque where you sample all their signature dishes. For a Hamptons foodie, this one-day-only event is not to be missed.
As our conversation with Hezi Mena and Stefano Braganti comes to an end, one thing is abundantly clear: DeUna Holdings is not merely constructing houses—they are engineering lifestyles of the future. Mena and Braganti's synergistic blend of experience, innovation, and passion makes them pioneers in marrying luxury and sustainability.
In an era where both are deemed crucial yet often seen as mutually exclusive, DeUna's mission speaks to a brighter, greener future for real estate. We look forward to the ripple effect this visionary duo will undoubtedly create throughout the second home market.