“A Compelling Value”So says Diane Carnegie of Barbara Hindman’s new listing at 16 Barnstable Road (off Stanwich), priced at $2,395,000. While I can’t duplicate her English accent, when Diane says it, it sounds extremely convincing. In fact, even before her pronouncement, I liked it too. This is a 1960’s colonial, renovated in 1987, sitting on two plus acres and complete with five bedrooms, a solarium and all sorts of great living space. If you’re insane, the FAR allows a 9,000 sq.ft. building on the land but I’d leave this house exactly as is. Either way, you’re paying just about land value for property that happens to include a very nice house. As an aside, one of the late Mr. Kessler’s projects, unfinished, stands nearby. This bit of history will be gone soon and, if the foreclosing bank knows its business, it will probably be sold for just about the price of 16 Barnstable, thus proving my point.

And Also Nice
Liz Dagnino’s listing at 31 Stonebrook (nee Hooker) Lane asking $1,495,000. It’s a four bedroom contemporary –gasp! – which means it’s bright, open and comfortable. The current owners have updated and maintained it so that it really is in move-in condition, a phrase that’s frequently misapplied in this business. On two acres, with the nice plus that it’s just around the corner from the Mianus River Park, on of my favorite in-town locations for hiking and X-Country skiing (if it ever snows again). Stonebrook leads to Cognewaugh, perhaps one of the least convenient streets in town, but people who choose it obviously are willing to trade a few minutes of driving time for the privacy and serenity of this area.

Price It, Sell It
Touring the latest batch of new listings coming on the market, I am struck by how far off the mark so many prices are. It’s no wonder that there’s no sense of urgency among buyers: they know that the houses they’re seeing have many months, and hundreds of thousands (or millions) of dollars to go before they sell. What’s frustrating is that many of these buyers, having been stupefied by seeing so many over-priced wonders, don’t believe their agent when told that a particular house has been well priced. And they lose out thereby. Moral here is to trust your agent. If you don’t, find another agent.

Beach Passes, Again
I see that the town’s knickers are knotted again over what to do with beach access by non-residents. I really don’t get the controversy here because, much as we all love and appreciate Tod’s Point, it’s hardly a big tourist draw and, so far as I can tell from attendance figures, we’re just not being swamped by busloads of folks diverting from Jone’s Beach. The real reform called for, in my opinion, is to return to the days of yore when summer renters could obtain a pass at the resident price upon presenting a copy of their lease to Parks & Rec. If you ever care to rent out your own house while you traipse through Europe for a few months, you’ll find that access to the beach by your tenants is a real selling point. Or it used to be. Of course, if you’ve read my book, “Greenwich Mean Time” (you haven’t? Why Not? Just Books! E. Putnam Variety, next to Whole Foods! Amazon!) you’d know that we’re about to cede the Point to a remnant of our original Siwanoy Indians so that they can build a casino and they, of course, will have an admissions policy so liberal that all of this will become mute, dead and buried.

The Island at the Center of the World
I really enjoyed this book by Russell Shorto, chronicling the early history of Manhattan. As the author points out, victors write the history so the Dutch founders of the island were pretty much wiped off the page by the Brits. Now, thanks to a thirty-year effort translating old Dutch to English, a more complete history can be written, which Shorto has done admirably. It’s his contention that Dutch Manhattan, a polyglot society of Jews, Dutch, French Huguenots (my ancestors included), freed slaves and slaves, created a tolerant, boisterous settlement that, far more than the stern Pilgrims to the north, set the tone for modern America. It’s a fascinating read and, reviewing the behavior of those hard-living Huguenots, I was reminded that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Published by Random House with a Vintage paperback edition.

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  1. Bill Clark

    Hi, Chris,

    I always wondered what that weird structure at the corner of Barnstable was…now I know, thanks to you.

    I discovered blogspot last summer, and started my own contribution to the blogosphere, “Greenwich Gossip”. You can click on my name to surf on over and let me know what you think!