The Real Deal National

A pair of private islands are for sale just beyond Manhattan

Columbia Island comes with a 5,600-square-foot home and a 14-foot seawall
June 16, 2019 01:00PM

Columbia Island, Pea Island and owner Al Sutton

Columbia Island, Pea Island and owner Al Sutton

Looking to escape the city this summer, but don’t want to deal with airports or traffic?

Two private islands a 30-minute boat ride from Manhattan have hit the market with a $13 million asking price, Bloomberg reported.

The current owner, Al Sutton, has listed Columbia Island, which he bought for $1 million in 2007, and the nearby Pea Island, which he purchased for $500,000 in 2014.

Both islands are located in Long Island Sound just off the coast of New Rochelle in Westchester County. Columbia Island, previously known as Little Pea Island, was once owned by the CBS television network.

The New York skyline is visible from Columbia Island, which was once the site of a bunker spanning about 5,000 square feet that served as the base of a 400-foot radio broadcast tower installed by CBS. The media giant sold the island in the early 1960s for about $35,000 after a small airplane flew into the tower and destroyed it.

The College of New Rochelle subsequently acquired Columbia Island for marine studies, according to Bloomberg, but listed it for sale in 2005. Two years later, Sutton, an actor, author, doctor, human rights activist and producer, picked up the property, whose dimensions often shift with the tides. Sutton spent more than $8 million over the next 11 years to transform Columbia Island into a habitable, high-end residence.

Despite all that work, Sutton told Bloomberg that he never moved into the home.

“I’m 85 now, and I guess when I bought it, I was in my 70s and I was more ambitious,” he said.

A 5,600-square-foot house with four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a desalination machine now stand on Columbia Island. Sutton rebuilt the walls, windows and wiring with corrosion-resistant materials. In addition to a basement pumping system that can flush out 60,000 gallons of water per hour, the hurricane-resistant home has automatic storm shutters and a 14-foot concrete sea wall.

The house also comes with a sprinkler system, solar panels that collect energy on the roof and a septic system emptied by a private service. Patti Anderson of Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty has the listing. [Bloomberg] — Mike Seemuth