Real Estate

Small Connecticut town in contract to buy $100M private island

No man is an island — and perhaps, instead of an individual buyer, that’s why the affluent suburb of Darien, Conn., is buying a grand private island located right in the town itself.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the town — some 50 miles from New York City — has entered contract to purchase the roughly 60-acre Great Island, owned by descendants of the baking powder entrepreneur William Ziegler, for more than $100 million. It’s one of the largest remaining undeveloped parcels of land in the area.

Ziegler, who died in 1905, purchased it around 1900 to use as a summer residence.

“There will never be another opportunity for the town to control this property’s destiny, or to add an asset to benefit all of us like this,” Darien First Selectman Monica McNally said at an April meeting of the town’s Board of Selectmen. “I believe 200 years from now, when people look at this property, they will look favorably on this transaction.”

Great Island is accessed via a causeway.
Douglas Elliman Realty
Great Island has about 1 mile of coastline along the Long Island Sound.
Douglas Elliman Realty
The perks of a private island include unadulterated views of the water.
Douglas Elliman Realty

Other details, for now, are unavailable. McNally told the Journal that inking the contract is just the “first step” in a multi-layered process that will need approval from other town officials — and she declined to comment further on the deal.

The spread listed for sale in February asking a cool $100 million. In 2016, it originally asked a much higher $175 million.

Great Island, which is accessed via a causeway and owned by a trust controlled by the Steinkraus family — who are descendants of Ziegler’s granddaughter Helen — comes with more than a mile of shoreline along the Long Island Sound.

The sprawling main house.
Douglas Elliman Realty
The grounds also include a pool.
Douglas Elliman Realty
The equestrian facility has an arched ceiling reminiscent of that inside Grand Central — and it’s because the two share an architect in common.
Courtesy of Douglas Elliman
The equestrian facility also has a granite stable.
Courtesy of Douglas Elliman
Spread across some 60 acres, there’s plenty of room for outdoor seating.
Courtesy of Douglas Elliman

But more than an island, it’s also home to a centerpiece home — one that was inspired by an Italian villa, measures 13,000 square feet and dates to 1905. The island also has a guesthouse, a caretaker’s cottage and a deep-water dock.

There’s even an equestrian facility on the land — and its look may seem familiar to commuters. The late architect Rafael Gustavino, known for his work on Grand Central Terminal, lent his touch to this amenity — and its arched ceiling resembles that found in parts of the midtown train station. It also has a granite stable, and indoor and outdoor riding rings.

Needless to say, one of Ziegler’s descendants, the late William Steinkraus, won a gold medal at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City in individual jumping.

Jennifer Leahy, of Douglas Elliman, had the listing. Leahy told the Journal the island had received bids from both end-users and developers.