The rebuilding of the Sands Beach Club, a 60-year-old oceanfront resort in Atlantic Beach where generations of Long Islanders spent their summers until superstorm Sandy caused $4 million in damage, is nearing completion.
When the club, which hosted performers like Tito Puente and Connie Francis in the 1960s, was hit Oct. 29, the storm destroyed 130 cabanas and heavily damaged another 130. The club's restaurant and catering hall also had to be repaired, and its Olympic-sized swimming pool was filled with saltwater.
Nearly 11 months later, the cabanas have been rebuilt, and the final exterior and interior work on the pool, bathrooms and other buildings is under way. The last of the work will be finished in time for next year's summer season, which begins Memorial Day, said general manager Bob Leimsider.
"The beach club was basically devastated by Sandy," Leimsider said, adding that owner Stuart Yachnowitz "literally worked from Oct. 30 up until Memorial Day" rebuilding the cabanas.
The club's catering business reopened in November and the cabanas reopened in time for this year's summer season, Leimsider said. Sands renters pay $3,600 to $19,300 per season for the cabanas, depending on their size, location and whether they share the facility with another renter, he said.
The new cabanas have been built to withstand up to 150- mph winds, Leimsider said.
Barbara Ribacoff, 54, of Oceanside, who has rented a cabana at the Sands for 26 years, said she was glad the club was back this summer, because she lost half of her home to Sandy and the cabana "gave us something to look forward to."
She added: "It was extremely important to me. That is my home away from home for 26 years. My children grew up there."
The Sands is one of a dozen beach clubs in the Atlantic Beach area, said Stephen Mah-ler, mayor of the village of Atlantic Beach. Sands is just outside the village's boundaries.
Mahler said he feared the damage at some of the beach clubs would prohibit them from reopening, but they have come back nicely.
"I'm glad that they are back up to speed," Mahler said. "There was a time after the storm when I thought some of them would not be back. And they are."
Steven Fox, 59, of Atlantic Beach, a 27-year member, said he and his wife walked by the Sands shortly after Sandy and it looked "like we were in a battle zone."
He said he's glad the club is back, because he can't imagine summer without it.
"The Sands is absolutely an iconic location," Fox said. "It was amazing to see it repaired in such a timely fashion."