Delafield Estates, Riverdale’s largest undeveloped parcel, up for auction

From left: Tobias Schapiro, a house on the Delafield Estates and Ann Schapiro
From left: Tobias Schapiro, a house on the Delafield Estates and Ann Schapiro

The bulk of the Delafield Estates, a 10.5-acre plot in Riverdale once envisioned as a gated community, is scheduled for public auction on Nov. 7, according to a statement from Brown Harris Stevens, which is marketing the property. The land contains 33 individual lots, including 11 that have been developed and 22 that are up for grabs.

Ann Schapiro and Tobias Schapiro of Brown Harris Stevens are marketing the vacant lots. “This is the largest undeveloped parcel believed to be available in Riverdale and is a great opportunity for a developer,” Tobias Schapiro said in a statement.

The estates once belonged to Edward Delafield, an early president of Bank of America, who donated the land to Columbia University in the 1960s to use it as a botanical garden. James Polshek, the former dean of Columbia’s School of Architecture, first conceived of the idea for the gated community consisting of 33 compact houses on three acres, with the remainder left for shared forest space.

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Suffering from budget problems, Columbia sold the land ten years later to a developer who also faced financial hurdles. In 1991, Abraham Zion picked up the land, which then had nine completed and occupied homes, in foreclosure. Zion owned the property for 20 years but did not complete additional houses. He filed for bankruptcy protection in 2005.

Two partially completed homes were auctioned off earlier this year, the release said. — Zachary Kussin