63-Acre Darien Waterfront Estate Now Up for Sale — Will Town Buy It?

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Great Island, a 63-acre waterfront estate in the possession of the Ziegler family for over a century, is now on the market for $175 million, which could make it the most expensive residential estate ever sold, according to a Thursday report in the Wall Street Journal.

The property is located on Great Island Road, off of the northern end of Long Neck Point Road, not far from its intersection with Pear Tree Point Road, close to where Long Neck peninsula connects with the mainland. Great Island itself is connected to the rest of the property with a very short bridge.

According to the Wall Street Journal article, “If it sells for anywhere near its asking price of $175 million, it could set a new record for most expensive residential property in the country, real estate veterans said.”

Great Island Wall Street Journal Ziegler 9-16-16

This is what the Wall Street Journal article about the Great Island estate going on the market looks like on the newspaper’s website.

The property is owned by the Ziegler family, descendants of industrialist William Ziegler, who bought the land around 1900. That was about the time when Andrew Carnegie would have been driven past it in a horse-drawn carriage taking him from the Noroton Heights Train Station to the tip of Long Neck Point for a few summer vacations.

The Ziegler family decided to finally sell the estate because the “next generation has moved to other places,” listing agent David Ogilvy of David Ogilvy & Associates in Greenwich told the Wall Street Journal.

One of the potential buyers of the property is the town of Darien itself, where town officials commonly mention that 98 percent or so of the land is already developed, giving the town few possibilities for a major new facility of any type, even if the town wanted to build one.

The recently approved 2016 Town Plan of Conservation and Development makes several recommendations about buying strategic pieces of real estate. From page 124 of the plan:

2. Continue to ensure that community facility needs are met by considering:

  • upgrading or renovating existing buildings;
  • adding on to existing buildings;
  • constructing new buildings; and/or
  • acquiring new land, as appropriate.

3. When land which would help address community facility needs becomes available, whether adjacent to existing facilities or elsewhere, evaluate the purchase of that property as quickly as possible in order to help address possible future needs. […]

12. Investigate how to establish a “fast‐track” process for approving the acquisition of land.

Several other towns in the area own former estates, including Waveny in New Canaan (once the home of actor Christopher Lloyd) and Cranbury Park in Norwalk, where the Gallaher Mansion still stands. The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum sits on a former estate now owned by Norwalk.

The Town of Westport owns Longshore Club Park, bought by the town after a country club with a golf course and waterfront property went bankrupt more than 50 years ago.

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The estate is listed by the town Tax Assessor’s Office as the third largest taxpayer in Darien, with an assessed value (70 percent of estimated value) of $30,637,760 — far below the current $175 million asking price. (The two highest-priced properties in town are the Avalon Darien apartment complex off of Hollow Tree Ridge Road and Wee Burn Country Club.)

According to the Wall Street Journal article, the property includes a main house with six bedrooms and wings for staff and guests. Almost every room has views of Long Island Sound. The property also has these other features:

  • Other large homes
  • Small waterfront cottages
  • A private beach and dock
  • A boat house
  • Extensive equestrian grounds
  • A granite stable with 20 stalls and a Guastavino tile ceiling
  • A “Grand Prix jumping/riding arena”
  • A horse exercise track
  • A sand dressage ring
  • Bridle trails

David Ogilvy and Associates sold the 50-acre Copper Beech Farm estate in Greenwich for $120 million in 2014. Christie’s International Real Estate is providing international marketing. As of early Friday morning, the Ziegler property does not appear to be on the Ogilvy & Associates website.