Todt Hill sitting pretty on Staten Island

When it comes to the priciest blocks of homes, a good rule of thumb is either in the hills or on the water — and Staten Island has plenty of both.

Last month, The Real Deal compiled a list of the top 10 heftiest 2006 home sales on Staten Island, and found prices ranging from $1.8 million for a stately home in the Grymes Hill neighborhood to $3.5 million for both an oceanfront estate in Tottenville and a mansion in Todt Hill.

Waterfront neighborhoods such as Tottenville and South East Annadale, and Grymes Hill and Emerson Hill, both on ridges, all have stunning homes. But a handful of Staten Island brokers agreed the Todt Hill neighborhood has the most stately homes and the priciest blocks.

“The top blocks, I can tell you right here, are Benedict Road and Circle Road in Todt Hill,” said Connie Profaci, an independent broker in business on Staten Island for 28 years who also happens to live in the neighborhood. “They’re appealing because they’re mansions, and some of them are on oversized properties.”

Profaci said most of the homes on these two blocks sell for upward of $3 million. The Todt Hill neighborhood, which sits on a mountain ridge of more than 400 feet, is one of the highest points on the Eastern Seaboard. Many homes have views of the Narrows and Lower New York Bay.

While some of the homes are newly built on 100-by-100-foot lots where older homes have been torn down, Profaci said, there are enough mansions on landscaped parcels to retain the neighborhood’s bucolic suburban flavor.

The neighborhood is a web of small roads winding by the Richmond County Country Club, the Staten Island Academy, a private school, and Staten Island’s Greenbelt public parkland. Older, well-built homes cover large swaths of property in a myriad of architectural styles, including Arts and Crafts, Cape Cods and Georgians.

One such home is at 74 Buttonwood Road, a 12,000-square-foot brick Colonial mansion on a 37,000-square-foot lot that sold for $3.5 million in 2006, according to public records. The mansion has 14 rooms and six fireplaces, and sits on terraced, park-like grounds. Buttonwood Road, which is a little bend near Benedict and Circle roads, could also be a contender for one of the priciest blocks, Profaci said.

“There are some little private streets that come off of the major streets that are just beautiful,” she said. “Also, there’s Copperflagg Estates, which is like an English village. It’s a beautiful area on Todt Hill that many people aren’t aware of.”

Profaci said her company just sold one of the stone cottages, called the Ernest Flagg Palm House, at 63 Flagg Court. The home, a 4,095-square-foot Norman French Tudor, is snuggled onto 10,000 square feet of leafy acreage and sold for about $1.825 million, according to public records.

Generally, Todt Hill homes start at around $1.6 to $1.7 million, said Dennis Semenza, an associate broker at RE/MAX Regal Realty, who’s worked in Staten Island real estate since the 1980s. Yet some are extraordinary, with asking prices as high as $8.3 million, such as one gated estate currently listed for sale, situated on 1.89 acres overlooking the Richmond County Country Club golf course. The 17,000-square-foot brick Colonial mansion has six bedrooms, four full baths, four half baths and three three-quarter baths.

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Average prices for Staten Island homes are in the mid-$500,000s for a detached home, mid-$400,000s for a semi-detached home, and $260,000 to $400,000 for a two-bedroom townhouse, according to Maged Girgis, associate broker at RE/MAX Regal Realty.

“The thing about Todt Hill is that it’s a market that may be price-proof, because if the people in that price range want to buy a home, they’re going to buy a home,” Semenza said.

While Todt Hill may have the priciest blocks on Staten Island, there are other neighborhoods contending for the honor. Tottenville, on the southernmost tip of Staten Island, saw a contemporary 7,460-square-foot oceanfront home at 15 Tricia Way sell for $3.5 million in the last year. A neighboring home at 5 Tricia Way, though somewhat smaller at 4,892 square feet, went for $2.2 million.

Unlike other South Shore locales, the neighborhood has its share of historic homes. Many opulent 19th-century estates line roads such as Bentley Street and Amboy Road, brokers said, though some homes have been torn down to make way for townhomes in recent years.

South East Annadale, which had one of the top 10 home sales last year, has its share of attractive homes on the South Shore.

“South East Annadale is probably considered among the top-five pricey neighborhoods on Staten Island, because parts of it sit on the water,” Semenza said. “Hills and water generally attract higher prices.”

Another element of South East Annadale’s appeal is that it is zoned consistently, allowing only single-family homes on lots that are a minimum of 60 by 100 feet, said Mike Diaz, president of Coldwell Banker Village Realty.

“In a lot of Staten Island you’ll find two blocks of custom homes, and then semi-attached homes and then townhouses, so there’s no consistency in a lot of the areas,” he said, which tends to drive down property values. “South East Annadale is an area zoned properly for the South Shore.”

A neighborhood on the North Shore, Grymes Hill — along with Emerson Hill bordering it — also has a slew of choice homes. It is the second-highest point on Staten Island, and has high prices to prove it, with some homes in the $2 million range and some best-block contenders.

“The views are absolutely magnificent,” said Diaz, who suggested that parts of Howard Avenue and Signal Hill Road were the most expensive blocks. “You get New York City, the Verrazano Bridge, Brooklyn — just panoramic views.”

Go to chart: Staten Island’s top sales