Island Hunting in New York 

Jul 01, 2010

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John Mehigan lists a Private Island North of Manhattan

It’s an understatement to say that private islands for sale near Manhattan are few and far between. Not to mention one for the price of many one-bedroom New York City apartments.

But John Mehigan, an associate broker at Gumley Haft Kleier, has a listing for just that — a $1.55 million island about 60 miles north of Manhattan.

It’s such a unique property and investment that I had to have a crack at it,” said Mehigan, who got an inquiry about listing the property after he appeared on an April episode of the real estate reality TV show “Selling New York.”

The one-acre island sits in man-made Lake Putnam and includes a 5,600-square foot, four-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath home built in 1932. It also has a 400-square-foot guest cottage.

The uniqueness of the property made setting a price tricky. “It was tough to come by comps,” said Mehigan, who noted that there are no other private islands in the area.

“We could have priced it higher, but felt that price would attract attention and get a buyer,” Mehigan said. (The seller, who did not want to be identified, had originally listed the property at a higher price, but Mehigan declined to say what the price was and the former listing broker declined to comment. The property was, however, on the market for close to a year.)

This time around (the property has only been on the market for a few weeks), the seller is hoping that bringing on a New York City broker will mean attracting a New York City buyer.

Mehigan said most of the island hunters he has met so far are New Yorkers looking for second homes, who are tired of the usual spots like the Hamptons and Fire Island. Plus, he said, there are plenty of people who “love the idea of owning their own island.”

To get there, prospective buyers will have to go to the town of Patterson and then meet the homeowner for a five-minute rowboat ride across the lake to the house, which is about 100 yards offshore. Not to fear: The home comes with several rowboats (and oars), along with kayaks and canoes.

Aside from a kitchen renovation about 10 years ago, the home has remained largely unchanged since the seller, who has owned it for 35 years, first purchased it. Mehigan said, however, that it is “definitely not run-down.”

Though it’s been called Plum Island for a number of years, Mehigan found that interested buyers were confusing it with an animal research center in Long Island or associating it with the island mentioned in the film “The Silence of the Lambs” — obviously not a great selling point.

Instead, the island is being marketed with its original name, Willo-Isle. But for those who want a self-named island, Mehigan said, the name can probably be changed once a new buyer steps in.


Hot Property Book

The stars of HGTV's “Selling New York” let fans step inside the high-profile world of Manhattan real estate in a wild and one-of-a-kind novel of stormy egos, sumptuous homes, and staggering fame and fortune. Written by Michele, Samantha & Sabrina Kleier.