Greenwich Time

Great Island purchase final

Price drops from $103M to $85M

- By Mollie Hersh

DARIEN — The price for Great Island — a 60plus acre parcel of land — has dropped from the initial $103 million agreement to an amended purchase price of $85 million, Darien officials said.

The town announced the finalized agreement Tuesday with a closing date of May 5 following a multi-month due diligence period.

The town was supposed to take ownership back in September; however, the 75-day due diligence timeline was extended based on environmen­tal and access reviews.

“Great Island is a pristine landscape with approximat­ely one and a half miles of coastline in an environmen­tally sensitive cove on Long Island Sound,” Darien First Selectman Monica McNally said. “With this purchase, we have prioritize­d the conservati­on of this magnificen­t property, saving it forever from intensive developmen­t. We have added significan­t open space for Darien, which is needed more and more as our town enters a new developmen­t phase.”

Board of Finance chairman Jim Palen, who worked closely with McNally on the financial side of the negotiatio­ns, described them as “a very amicable and collaborat­ive discussion” with the sellers.

“In connection with the diligence over the past seven months, the team looked at overall economic environmen­t, the changing interest rate levels as well as any potential investment­s that might need to be made to ensure efficient access to the island for other environmen­tal or structural costs and entered into negotiatio­ns over the purchase price with the seller and ultimately, over the past couple months, arrived at the new purchase price of $85 million,” Palen said.

Once the town takes ownership on May 5, there will be restricted access until critical updates are completed, such as widening roads, creating parking areas, and addressing some safety, accessibil­ity, and environmen­tal issues.

The town has not yet finalized how the property will be used, though officials have floated several possibilit­ies including an ice rink, museum, ecological learning and outdoor festivals.

While the price tag has dropped, the final cost of Great Island is unknown given the loss of property taxes as well as costs for maintenanc­e and any additional structures the town may add.

Palen said with the 17 percent price drop, he anticipate­d the town’s debt service associated with Great Island to drop by a similar rate, though the exact cost will likely not be known until late March or early April.

Great Island was one of two properties off of Long Neck Road built by baking soda magnate William Ziegler in the early 1900s and owned by his descendant­s, the Steinkraus family.

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