The Real Deal New York

A ‘City Island’ bounce?

Movie captures enclave's charm and kick-starts real estate

December 14, 2010
By Barbara Thau

Nothing like a sprinkle of movie stardust to summon a little real estate magic. The quaint one-and-a-half-mile-long Bronx island that’s been called the Cape Cod of New York — known for its commercial marinas, yacht clubs and seafood restaurants — is basking in the buzz of the recently released movie “City Island.”

The movie — staring Andy Garcia and Julianna Margulies as a married working-class couple — portrays the community as a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city. (Garcia plays a corrections officer who is hiding two secrets: a newly discovered son and his aspirations to be an actor.)

“We’ve had a few people calling up after they’d seen the movie, saying, ‘We are actually thinking of moving up here,’” said Robert Carmody, broker/owner of Atlantic Emeritus Realty and a lifelong resident, or “clam digger,” as the movie calls those who’ve lived there since birth.

Carmody said he’s negotiating a lease for empty nesters from New Rochelle who were enchanted with the island after seeing the film. They are eyeing a two-bedroom waterfront rental condo at Mariners Point for $2,300 a month.

Carmody said one Manhattan couple looking to buy quoted one of Garcia’s lines from the movie: “‘Once you move here, you don’t want to leave.’”

And Carmody isn’t the only broker reporting that buyers and renters are coming out of the woodwork.

Interest in sale and rental properties spiked earlier than usual this year at City Island Real Estate, said Betsy Esola, associate broker.

Is it because of the movie? “Funny you should ask,” she said. “I think so, because of the number of inquiries we’ve gotten over the past few weeks.”

Although the economic downturn may not have hit City Island as hard as other areas of the Bronx, prices have come down. A three-bedroom house that would have sold for $650,000 three years ago would now go for $525,000 to $550,000, Carmody estimated. But rentals have held steady because houses weren’t selling as briskly, he said.

Carmody and Jacqueline Kyle Kall, owner of Port of Kall Realty, played host to the “City Island” movie crew during filming.

And the filmmakers toured the island with Kall to get a feel for the area.

“People come in and say, ‘We saw the movie and it was terrific. That’s why we’re here,’” said Kall, who has lived her entire 85 years on City Island, and whose family has operated Port of Kall for 50 years. “I have a sign up in front saying, ‘Go see “City Island.”‘”

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