Forget foot-and-mouth disease, Plum Island could set a real estate record

The lush island just offshore from the Hamptons will soon hit the auction block
September 06, 2015 02:00PM

Not far from the Hamptons, Plum Island boasts miles of beach, a lighthouse and hundreds of acres of lush woods. And it’s about to hit the auction block. But there’s a catch: it’s contaminated with foot-and-mouth disease.

From 1955 to 2008, Plum Island was the only legal location to conduct research on foot-and-mouth disease, which is harmless to humans but could decimate the U.S.’s $60 billion cattle industry.

In 2008, Congress authorized the Department of Homeland Security to find a new research site, and the government has been looking to sell the property ever since. In fact, Donald Trump mulled over buying the island in 2013.

The 843-acre island currently has a high-security bio-lab, an old Army base and a power plant. But naturally all that could be demolished or transformed into the ultimate luxury retreat.

Real estate appraiser Jonathan Miller told NPR that Plum Island could be worth as much as a billion dollars. And it would be worth more if it weren’t for strict zoning and, you know, a contagious disease.

“So there’s many examples of quote unquote ‘stigmatized properties’ that — who would think anyone would live in these?” Miller said. “And then you gut it, strip it, remediate, create a high-end real estate product that breaks records in the neighborhood.”

No official date for the auction has been announced. [NPR]Christopher Cameron