Ever wished you cold own a private island? Here is your chance. A private island, just outside the Big Apple, has just hit the market for $13 million. Columbia Island, located just off of New Rochelle in Westchester, is now for sale. Spanning roughly 2 acres surrounded by the waters of the Long Island Sound, the oasis is just a short boat ride from The Bronx’s City Island, or a 30 minute car drive from Midtown Manhattan.
As reported by the NY Post, the island boasts a 5,600-square-foot, four-bedroom, two-bathroom home. The hurricane-proof luxury residence is also self-sustaining thanks to a desalination machine, solar panels and other necessities. There is, of course, also a dock, because the only way to get there is by boat. The sale price also includes the neighboring and mostly undeveloped Pea Island.
It sounds like a dream come true, but its owner says developing it was more like a nightmare. “I was sort of cocky,” says Al Sutton, the island’s current owner. “You get on the island, even if it’s a wreck, and it’s just gorgeous — the sky, the tide, the birds, everything. And that sort of blinded me and my thoughts. I just went: ‘Wow, what a Zen experience this could be.’ ”
In 2007, Sutton, who is a doctor, actor, author and producer, purchased the island for $1 million. He then invested $8 million and the next 11 years in developing it. Sutton says, he could have gotten the same experience renting “a rowboat from City Island for $10” without the demanding task of constructing a home on the salt-and wind-beaten site. “I’m 85 now,” said Sutton, “and I guess when I bought it, I was in my 70s and I was more ambitious.” Now, although construction on the home is done, he has not moved in and is looking to sell.
Sutton was not the first to be consumed by the island’s allure. The property has been sold several times in the past. In 1936, the Iselin family sold the island to New Rochelle’s Huguenot Yacht Club. In the 1940s, CBS purchased it and which speedily built a 400-foot-tall broadcast tower there. In the 1960s, however, a plane crashed into the tower, and the island was sold to Peter Lind Hayes, vaudeville entertainer and film actor. The tax bills proved too much for Hayes, who purchased the property for $35,000, and he gave the island to the College of New Rochelle, who also couldn’t afford to maintain it. They passed the island on to a school superintendent, who then sold it to Sutton.
Now, Sutton’s toil and labor is ready and awaiting the next lucky buyer. The listing is being handled by Patti Anderson at Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty. “I’m not a big spender, or at least I wasn’t until now,” Sutton sighed. “But here was something that, to be realized, had to be done right.”
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