A Private Island on Connecticut’s Gold Coast Will Sell for $85 Million
This 60-acre estate in Darien, Connecticut long held the title for most expensive home for sale in New England.
After years of going on and off-market and a few price drops, a sale is set to close on one of New England’s priciest properties. And the buyer? The town in which this estate sits.
The town of Darien, Connecticut is set to close on the purchase of Great Island on May 5, according to a spokesperson from Douglas Elliman, the brokerage behind the sale. The property is expected to sell for $85 million—actually a good deal considering Elliman listed the property for $100 million last year.
Darien has a reputation as one of the wealthiest towns in America. Its median annual household income is over $250,000, while the median home value is more than $1.4 million, according to Census data. The town plans to use the property as conservation land and open space, allowing its residents access to the 1.5 miles of coastline that come with the land.
This record-breaking sale has long been owned by the descendants of baking soda magnate William Ziegler, who originally built the home as a summer estate, using the aid of skilled architect Rafael Guatavino, whose portfolio of work also includes the design of a little place known as Grand Central Station. The property has remained in the family since it came into being in the 1900s. “Our family has cherished Great Island for over 120 years,” the Steinkraus family said in a statement provided to Boston and posted online.”It is a magical place and we are saddened to see it go, however, we are also excited to pass the torch to the town. We are confident they will be top-notch stewards of the land and preserve it for all to enjoy.”
According to the listing, this sprawling piece of land comes with a 13,000 square-foot Italian villa-style manor, guest house, two cottages, and a farmhouse from the 1800s. That’s not to mention the deep-water dock, an 18-stall stable, indoor and outdoor riding rings, numerous paddocks and riding trails, and a polo field. These amenities will surely be of great use to the Town of Darien: According to the Patch, Darien plans to use the island for public space, arts and cultural use, and conservation and education. The town’s First Selectwoman Monica McNally said in a statement released last week that the purchase “prioritized the conservation of this magnificent property, saving it forever from intensive development.”
But nothing good comes easy and that was the case with this sale. Jennifer Leahy, the Elliman agent who finally brought a sale on this home to fruition, said this one-of-a-kind place had been on and off the market with different brokerages since 2016, trying and failing to reel in buyers (the original $175 million price tag might have scared off a few people). When Leahy took over the listing last year, she was able to get several offers, including the one from the town.
Leahy, like many other realtors, is used to dealing with private clients, so a purchase from a municipality was a first. “I was surprised,” she said of getting the offer. “I was very impressed at how quickly the town motivated and activated the (town government) to see the property and to be able to vote on the purchase. It’s a testament to them and their ability to be stewards to this amazing piece of waterfront property … I’m thrilled for the town and I’m thrilled for my clients, that this beautiful property will be preserved.”