Real Estate Along the Coast of Connecticut
Inside stories behind area real estate deals
illustration by jennifer thermes
In keeping with this issue’s theme, our “Location” report takes a deep dive into our state’s coastal markets. Which towns held their value during the recent downturn? And which ones are buyers seeking out, now that the market is improving? The answers tend to be hyper local.
For instance, while the city of Norwalk on the whole has suffered, demand is strong for Rowayton, technically part of Norwalk. More specifically, the peninsula in Rowayton called Bell Island is doing just fine. It’s nearly as close to the city as the Darien waterfront—but with properties generally at lower price points—and offers the pleasures of pretty Bayley Beach and the chic village of Rowayton with its restaurants and active boating and sailing community. A current cool Bell Island listing is a gracious Victorian for $3.5 million with ample porches, a waterfront terrace and even a widow’s walk that offers killer views of the Manhattan skyline (Bill Tims of Prudential Connecticut Realty, 203-899-3289).
Demand is also strong in Southport, which is part of Fairfield—even while the city of Fairfield’s market is down as compared with 2011. “The village of Southport is the quintessential New England town,” says Bonnie Paige of William Raveis Real Estate, who adds that even though it’s just an hour’s commute into the city, people say Southport reminds them more of Martha’s Vineyard than the suburbs. Plus, there’s not a bad street in the village, each bring more charming than the next—and Harbor Road the most spectacular of all. A current lovely listing is at 385 Harbor Road: a $10.5 million, circa-1854 Italianate antique with 120 feet of private waterfront, including a dock, a pool and a carriage house (Catherine Fingelly Granneberg of Nicholas H. Fingelly Real Estate, 203-454-5194).
Just north of New Haven, Madison and Guilford have always been a draw with their sandy beaches, boating facilities and charming village centers. But because a key part of the towns’ demographic is second-home owners, their markets suffered when discretionary dollars dried up. Margaret Muir of William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty in Madison says that very high-end listings are generating traffic of late, especially homes that offer nature-made amenities. In Madison, Middle Beach Road homes on the water side, with unfettered views and private Sound access, are among the town’s most desirable—and priciest. Number 29 Middle Beach Road West, a shingle-style estate on a full acre with 200 feet of private waterfront, just went under contract; asking $6,295,000 (accepted price not yet public). Still on the market is a low-slung, mid-century home that was built on a three-quarter-acre private promontory, surrounded on three sides by water, with sunrise and sunset views (Muir has the $2,350,000 listing, 203-738-0202).
The spring market has shaped up to be surprisingly newsy with bustling open houses, spectacular new listings and even a few boldfaced names to throw around. The latter starts with the sad passing of Andy Rooney at the age of 92—and the subsequent listing of his Rowayton home, on the market for $749,500. We hear that the beloved but curmudgeonly newscaster raised his four children in the 2,474-square-foot Tudor, just a five-minute walk from the train station he used for his commute. The now empty interiors have the look of a family home and, some 60 years after Rooney purchased it, are lovely but in need of some updating (Bill Tims of Prudential Connecticut Realty; 203-899-3289). In Greenwich, another TV personality finally sold his home after four years on the market: Regis Philbin closed for $3 million on the six-acre property he first listed for $5.9 million. And we can’t help but pass along this pretty piece of gossip: US Weekly reports that actors Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds were spotted house hunting in New Canaan in April, with The Daily News adding that the couple has also looked in Greenwich and Ridgefield. When not perusing tabloids, we found the time to tour a few of the most fabulous homes with water features currently on the market. Whether your idea of “waterfront” means a sandy beach, river views or a private pond, we’ve got a property for you.
If you can time your visit to this Indian Drive home with day’s end, you’ll be treated to the Manhattan skyline lit by sunset skies. But, in truth, there’s no bad time to take in the views from this .7-acre property that also offers porches, a pretty pergola, a dock, and a pool and pool terrace. Inside, there are five bedrooms, five full bathrooms (plus one half bathroom), including a master suite with a spa bath and a fireplace. It’s listed with Susan and Laura Calabrese of Coldwell Banker in Old Greenwich. 203-536-8523.
Old Greenwich Contemporary
There’s something about this modern seaside home that’s more California than Connecticut. Sited at the end of a private, tree-lined road, the nearly 5,000-square-foot house has airy, light-filled interiors with walls of windows to take in the 270-degree Long Island Sound views. Outside, there’s a shaded terrace, fireplace, pool house, pool and spa, and at the water’s edge, a deep-water dock and private mooring, including a davit to raise and lower boats. There’s an additional terrace overhanging the water that the current owners call the “dance floor”—used for seaside cocktails, lounging and even before bit of boogying, we imagine. Back inside, find five bedrooms and four bathrooms (plus two half bathrooms). Paul Larson of Sotheby’s International Realty in Greenwich has the listing. 203-618-3145.
Built for the current owners in 2007 by renowned architect Mac Patterson of Austin Patterson Disston, this handsome, shingle-style home was designed to take advantage of its expansive views over Noroton Harbor. Additional aquatic pleasures include a pool and spa set in a pretty stone terrace, and the fact that the two-acre property is just 200 yards from the beach. The 7,462-square-foot interiors are built for fun with a wine room, game room, gym and a golf simulation system that allows you to pretend you’re driving a fairway at Pebble Beach. There are also four bedrooms, including a master suite with a private balcony and fireplace, and a poolside guesthouse with beamed cathedral ceilings and another fireplace. Doug Milne of Kelly Real Estate in Darien has the listing. 203-621-0938.
This home serves up your choice of ways to enjoy the water: It’s on a pond, along a river road and within walking distance of Pear Tree Point Beach in Darien. The open, airy floor plan features walls of windows and glass doors to take in the water views and allow access to the terraces, pool, gardens and lawns, which slope down to the pond’s edge. In all, it offers 6,500 square feet with six bedrooms and six bathrooms, plus one half bathroom. It’s listed with Linda Malpass of William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty in Darien. 203-321-0020.
In Middlesex County along the Connecticut River, Deep River is
a quaint 17th-century town that got off to a prosperous start thanks to the coastal industries of shipping, fishing and whaling. This stone home has been beautifully renovated, offering 6,200-square-foot interiors including four bedrooms, three bathrooms and one half bathroom. At this time of year, the 6.5-acre exteriors are the real draw, starting with 850 feet of private waterfront, a deepwater dock, a boathouse and a teahouse with a fireplace that overlooks the river. There is also a 1.5-acre pond, a second, smaller pond, and a swimming pool set in a handsome stone terrace. Colette Harron of William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty in Essex has the listing. 860-304-2391.