New listing in Riverside, but old house (bumped)

107 meadow road

107 Meadow Road

107 Meadow Road, asking $6.995 million, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they get it. It’s old as in “classic”, on 3 acres overlooking the Sound. Neat house, but it could absorb a ton of money in updating it. Then again, the buyer of this place will presumably have tons of money to do just that.

UPDATE: Brother Gideon informs me (and his reader) that the late owner placed some incredible strict restrictions on this house. That’s great for the neighbors, but it almost certainly will affect its price negatively. A nice sacrifice on the owner’s part – I wonder if her heirs will appreciate the gesture as much as the rest of us will?

Here’s just part of those restrictions:

“Only the existing residential dwelling, for single family use and occupancy, with all improvements related thereto, shall be maintained upon the Property…”

UPDATE II – oops! Reading more of the restrictions, so thoughtfully provided by Gideon, I think she made this house almost unsellable. Even if someone loves the house exactly the way it is – and they’d have to, because it can never be changed – will there be another buyer down the road who shares that affection? I wouldn’t buy this place, nice as it is.

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63 responses to “New listing in Riverside, but old house (bumped)

  1. Anonymous

    This will be a spectacular home once it’s gut renovated. I’d go so far as to add a peaked roof line over the sunroom. Beautiful.

  2. Cos Cobber

    First house with fountain in driveway that didn’t scream new $.

  3. Anonymous

    I love this home! This house is worth it!!! I bet it sells in a week for asking !!! Who wouldn’t want to live next to Tim Armstrong !

  4. James

    Great house except for the AC units sticking out the back of the house haha

  5. Riverside Chick

    One of the most stunning properties in Riverside!

  6. Anonymous

    wait so an owner can restrict what a future owner can do? that’s nuts! Null and void once it is sold. It’s like this owner made some sort of landmark designation on his own house!

    • Yes, an owner can do that, and has been able to do that for at least 1,000 years or so, under English common law and, I assume, the laws of other countries too. In fact, there’s a whole body of law devoted to when such restrictions can be voided by a court (for instance, a single family restriction in a neighborhood that has been converted into a warehouse district), but it’s tough, and expensive. So that’s why I’m wondering who will buy this house, and for how much?

      • Johnnybowhunter

        Standing to enforce? They take calls from 6ft under?

        • In this case, the owner granted the Greenwich Land Conservancy a conservation easement, which gives it standing to sue to enforce the restrictions. So yeah, the courts can and will enforce them should the Conservancy sue – no one’s calling the police, mind you – it’s a civil matter, but definitely enforceable.
          Even worse, perhaps, from a buyer’s perspective, is that the Conservancy has final approval rights on just about anything done to the exterior including landscaping, painting the house, replacing windows, and so on.

        • Cos Cobber

          So I have to buy out the conservancy? This is getting expensive.

  7. pulled up in OG

    Restrictions? You mean like a guest in the living room finding the toilet?
    Kitchen might as well be in Pemberwick.

  8. Anonymous

    There’s also a right of entry. Who wants their house to be open to inspection? If someone is going to pony up close to 7M for the opportunity to gut renovate, I don’t think they’re going to want to be beholden to the wishes and whims of others.

    My guess is someone with absurdly deep pockets buys the house, apparently on the cheap, and then strategically violates the agreement knowing that their stacks and army of lawyers will prevent anyone from lifting a finger. With the necessity to throw a ton of money at the legalities and the possibility of them dragging on for an interminable length, whoever is responsible for enforcing will skulk away.

    Or … knowing they’ve saved many millions on the sale price, they negotiate a sizable donation to the Conservancy and say here’s a mil or two or you can meet my little pit bulls, which is it going to be?

    Disagree? Any suspects come to mind?

  9. If the seller wants nothing done to the house, why didn’t she donate it lock stock and barrel to some organization, like the Conservancy? Let the Conservancy use it as their headquarters (fund the taxes etc) and let the home stay as she wished. No actual buyer will ever heed the restriction. I know I wouldn’t. I’d hire a lawyer to break the restrictions clause.

    Similar case here in Bedford when a huge home on Harris Road was donated to the Westchester Land Trust as their HQ. Win win.

    • Luke Gardner

      Heh…. I was beginning to wonder if she fancied herself the second coming of Isabella Stewart Gardner.

    • Anon

      I don’t see your win win scenario. Heirs get screwed and the conservancy gets an HQ much bigger than they need and a huge cost for insurance and upkeep.

      People need to realize that life is for the living.

      • I was just speaking hypothetically. The Conservancy was just an example. As for the heirs, maybe the heirs are being compensated in other ways and don’t want the house. In the Bedford case, the family who donated the house to WLT had tons of other houses, the family was very wealthy, the heirs were well taken care of and the LT was happy to have a beautiful home in which to host lecture series and their staff. I stand pat. Win win.

  10. Mickster

    This is a residential single family zone. No HQs would be allowed. It’s restricted by the deed to SF also so that can’t happen. What if the house was struck by lightning could you rebuild to suit your own modern tastes or not?

    • So was the house on Harris Road Mick. I don’t know how they got around placing a HQ there but I do know the neighbors were THRILLED to have WLT there. Very small footprint of vehicles. Good cause. The land (as substantial as the house) would remain intact and not subdivided.

    • No – any rebuilding, as I read the restrictions, would be subject to the approval of the Conservancy.

  11. Calf Island had 13 Deed Codicils, not just ignored but trashed by Suethemall.
    Was your big pharma vast conspiracy behind that?
    Love of sense of place & purpose still allowed?
    Even in money first Zip Codes?
    Praise to real woman an Endangered Species here…

  12. Annonie

    Wouldn’t attnys argue jurisdiction of the conservatory? They might have jurisdiction over some things but uninforcible on others. Also the definition of “renovation”. I can see good attnys pulling restrictions apart. Do you know what firm wrote up restrictions?

    • No problem with the standing of the Conservancy to sue to enforce the restrictions: they now own an easement, a right to the property, properly recorded on the land records (just giving notice to anyone who buys the land and is considered under the law to be the burdened property). Think of it this way: you buy a property that goes with an easement over a neighbor’s land to get to the beach – in fact, this very property enjoys such a right to use Willowmere beach. If someone blocks your use of the beach, you have a legal right to force them to grant you access. Same thing here – the owner of the easement; in this case, the Conservancy, can enforce its right to control what you do with the property, because they too have a right to it. Not to use it, but to control what is done with it.
      which is why, were I a buyer interested in this property, I’d pass.

      • Two houses we fell in love with in Old Lyme were gorgeous antiques on Sill Lane, land down to the river. We would have bought either EXCEPT both houses had donated their front field acreage to the Conservancy and that scared us off. We talked to lawyers and the Town and when our local buyers agent said it would cause her pause too, we bailed. One house is still for sale, reduced by almost half of what it was asking when we bought two+ years ago. The other pulled the listing. You just never know what the Conservancy could do with the easement. Build a walking or bike path in your front yard? That’s why I think if you do plan to donate, give it all, not part, so the next owners aren’t encumbered or fretting.

  13. Anonymous

    Bummer if it burned down. Guess they’d have to…build new!

  14. Anony

    Does the no changes to the exterior clause mean the new owner could not remove those lovely a/c units sticking out the back of this house and put in central air?

    • Anonymous

      Argue definition of “renovation”

      • You can argue all you like, and you might win, but do you want to buy a las suit along with a house? As EOS points out, this kind of thing, while noble, scares off most buyers, and the smaller the pool of buyers, the less demand, and price tracks demand. I predict rough sledding ahead for this listing, gorgeous as it is.

    • The scary thing is, while I’m sure the Conservancy would approve, you would need their approval, as well as for the placement and screening of outside compressors.

      • Anonymous

        If there’s someone with political power within the Conservancy who has the ability to purchase the house … that would be one potential buyer.

      • AJ

        Even at half the price, who would want the headache. This house is a rental from now until doomsday.

  15. Annonie

    Is the Conservatory’s Attny Pro Bono? Do they have a staff attny?

    • Riverside Chick

      It looks like there are 4 people in the Greenwich Land Trust board. None of them seem to have any legal background and have more of a nature/forestry background.

  16. AJ

    107 Meadow 50 years from now:

  17. Cos Cobber

    OT – how could this be in the bluest state in the nation FF? This is the narrative befitting the south, no?

    I have two explanations – unfettered illegal immigration has taken entry level and now midlevel labor jobs and failed social programs where incentives to work are lacking.

  18. AJ

    Here’s the house up on the hill behind Paul Palmer. It’s not even waterfront.

  19. Riverside Ranter

    Given that the easement owned by the Greenwich Land Conservancy appears to so destructive to the property’s value, should there not be a lot of latitude for a potential buyer to have financial agreement with the Conservancy if it would surrender its rights here?

    • No no, you’re not getting it – property owners have the right to dispose of their land as they wish. Had this been donated entirely to the Sierra Club, or the Girl Scouts of America, with instructions that the house be razed and the land left forever in its natural state, the heirs’ thwarted expectations of inheriting it would not be listened to, because they have no legally recognized interest in the land of someone who owns it entirely-in “fee simple”,if I recall my property law correctly.
      And someone buys this house, with full knowledge of the restrictions imposed on it, will not be heard to complain that he’s losing the benefit of his bargain – he’s buying a burdened property, and he’ll be paying a sum that reflects that.
      My advice to a would-be-buyer: look for another house.

    • It is possible for the conservancy to sell its rights, however, and it’s often done by a lot of these land preservation groups-always, however, after law suits brought by aggrieved members.

      • AJ

        Read the PDF and you’ll see that the owner was of the Old Guard and that your chance of getting anything changed is probably zilch. They probably feel as if they’re protecting the Ghost of Canterville Castle. Who knows what spirits roam the halls.

  20. She was part of Harcourt Brace publishing now part of Houghton Miflin.

  21. Anonymous

    Batshitcrazy property restrictions, oh my!

    That aside, she sounds like a woman who impacted many lives for the better, over many many years.

    • The Brace family (Harcort- Brace) had plenty of money and were great philanthropists. I imagine she considered this gesture as a gift to her long-time neighbors, and why not? It was her money to do with as she wished, and – I’m guessing here – there was still some cash to spread to others. I think what she did was swell, but again, I wouldn’t buy the house.

      • housecat

        This house could easily become another Grey Gardens, sans the Edies. That seems a bigger shame than having a buyer raze it. Who will pay to maintain it for the years it will sit unsold?

      • Anonymous

        Neighbors won’t think it is a gift when it becomes decrepit and the heirs get tired of paying property taxes and maintenance. I am sure her intentions were noble though.

  22. P

    Hi Chris,
    Legal question: who would enforce this claim? Surely not the seller who is deceased. Could the neighbours or the City rely on it if they were not a party to the claim?
    Curious to know the answer and your thoughts.

    • She gave an element, a right to some control of the property, to the Conservation group – it, and its successors, can enforce it.

      • Anonymous

        And they can bill you for their legal expenses to enforce the easement, as stated in the easement.

        • Anonymous

          Can you have things like permits and COA delayed automatically or would the Land Conservancy have to be proactive to enforce?

        • Anonymous

          I don’t think you want to pull permits or COA unless you have land trust approval, as they could make you go undo anything you do and bill you for their legal expenses to make you undo it