Private island just outside New York City up for sale for more than $18 million


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A private island just off the coast of New York City is up for sale. Picture: Vizzi Media Solutions/New York Post

A private island just 30 minutes from the heart of New York City has hit the market for $AUD 18.75 million.

Columbia Island is located just off New Rochelle in Westchester, just over 30 minutes from Manhattan, surrounded by the waters of the Long Island Sound.

It’s just a short boat ride from The Bronx’s City Island and 30 minutes from Midtown by car, the New York Post reports.

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Owner Al Sutton built the home over the last 11 years. Picture: Vizzi Media Solutions/New York Post

The island’s 520 sqm, four-bedroom, two-bathroom home sounds like a city dweller’s dream retreat — but its owner says creating the haven was a nightmare.

“I was sort of cocky,” Al Sutton, the island’s current owner, told Bloomberg.

“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.’”

Inside there are four bedrooms. Picture: Vizzi Media Solutions/New York Post

Sutton — a doctor, actor, author and producer — bought the island for $AUD 1.44 million in 2007 and then invested $AUD 11.54 million over the next 11 years developing it.

But Mr Sutton said he could have gotten the same experience renting “a rowboat from City Island for $10” without the headache of managing complicated construction on the salt- and wind-beaten site.

On the small piece of land, the owner oversaw the completion of a hurricane-proof luxury residence that is also self-sustaining via a desalination machine, solar panels and other necessities.

A rendering of the space’s industrial vibe Picture: Vizzi Media Solutions/New York Post

Naturally, there is also a dock, because the only way to get there is by boat.

But sadly, Mr Sutton never got to live in his dream home, because after construction was finally finished, he never actually moved in.

“I’m 85 now, and I guess when I bought it, I was in my 70s and I was more ambitious,” Mr Sutton said.

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The home has two bathrooms. Picture: Vizzi Media Solutions/New York Post

Mr Sutton wasn’t the first victim of Columbia Island’s siren song.

In the 1940s, New Rochelle’s Huguenot Yacht Club sold the outpost to CBS, which promptly put up a 120m broadcast tower on the land.

The island changed hands again in the 1960s to entertainer and film actor Peter Lind Hayes.

Hayes couldn’t afford the tax bill and passed the island onto the College of New Rochelle, who also couldn’t afford to maintain it.

Among the features Sutton installed is a high-end kitchen. Picture: Vizzi Media Solutions/New York Post

The waters of Long Island Sound are clear on the private beach. Picture: Vizzi Media Solutions/New York Post

It eventually gave the island away to a school superintendent, who sold it to Mr Sutton.

Now the 85-year old’s pain is some lucky buyer’s gain.

Not only is Mr Sutton selling his own rare retreat, but the sale price includes the neighbouring and mostly undeveloped Pea Island.

An island retreat that’s CBD adjacent. Picture: Vizzi Media Solutions/New York Post

“I’m not a big spender, or at least I wasn’t until now,” Mr Sutton laments.

“But here was something that, to be realised, had to be done right.”


The article originally appeared in the New York Post and has been republished with permission.

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