If long driveways, high hedges and large lots don’t offer enough exclusivity, there’s an option in town for luxury real estate that remains off limits even for most local residents.
Private neighborhoods feature gates, guards and, in some cases, cameras. In neighborhoods such as Belle Haven, Conyers Farm and Indian Harbor, only those with express permission can venture past their gates. Inside, several have additional associations that require yet another specific access.
In Conyers Farm, situated at the upper corner of Greenwich and sprawling into New York, every home beyond the vigilantly manned guard building has its own gated driveway. Greenwich’s confidential communities feature world-class amenities such as private beaches and docks, polo grounds and elite clubs.
Many of the homes sell for millions of dollars, and last year several sales topped $20 million. The homeowners include celebrities and business titans who could buy a home anywhere in the world.
Privacy and, for some, tight-knit community lure them. For Kathie Lee Gifford, it is a sweeping waterfront vista in a Riverside community. Hedge fund titan Paul Tudor Jones has a home so striking it is often mistaken for the local yacht club. Diana Ross is among those who lives in a private community within another gated community.
Beyond exclusivity, fond memories of beach parties, trick-or-treating and friendships formed between neighbors highlight residents’ favorite aspects of their neighborhoods.
“I think having community is one of the biggest reasons why people are drawn to private neighborhoods,” said Jennifer Miller, of Douglas Elliman.
Some homebuyers, especially those seeking an elevated sense of privacy, ask specifically to look in gated neighborhoods, but many prioritize location and property above the designation. Occasionally, people prefer not to live by association guidelines and opt to avoid buying in private neighborhoods, Realtors said. But those who want a gate or two are willing to pay a premium.
Greenwich is home to more than 50 private neighborhood associations — properties on non-public roads where owners pay fees that, in many cases, primarily fund street paving and upkeep.
Many of the associations are as simple as a private road denoted by oversized white street signs. There, homeowners relish the ability to have speed bumps or small gates built to discourage outsiders from passing through.
The neighborhoods include a wide variety of homes. Belle Haven has more than 100 properties, while others are much smaller, including Chieftans, where 28 houses lie behind the gates off Sherwood Avenue.
In the last decade, properties sold within 12 of these private associations account for more than 230 residential sales, according to data from the Greenwich Multiple Listing Service. On average, the properties closed for nearly $5 million.Read Full Article
Nearly every submarket from Old Greenwich and Riverside to downtown, midcountry and backcountry has at least one private neighborhood.
As the name suggests, they do little to tell people about their offerings. There are no public web pages describing association amenities. Except through real estate agents, it can be hard to even find out their names.
Over the years, several of Greenwich’s more prominent neighborhoods have attracted outsized media coverage, such as Conyers Farm, with its famed polo fields. But there are many that garner less press while attracting high-profile residents who often purchase properties through an LLC. These include Deer Park, Field Point Circle, Khakum Wood, Lucas Point, Sherwood Farms, Willowmere and others.
Many spring from historic estates belonging to families including the Rockefellers and Gimbels. Eventually, the vast properties were broken up and subdivided.
Privacy, proximity to town
Belle Haven ranked second only to Milbrook by number of property sales among 12 of these secluded neighborhoods in the last decade. “Belle Haven has grown leaps and bounds as the trend to move closer to town has grown,” said Leslie McElwreath of Sotheby’s International Realty.
Preferences for Greenwich’s private neighborhoods align with the general shift in tastes for houses close to town and transportation, several local Realtors said. Along with Belle Haven, other private neighborhoods have benefited from that trend.
Mead Point features 43 properties with an average price tag of $5.57 million in the past 10 years. Within gated Mead Point is Windrose Way, another private neighborhood.
At low tide, residents have access to three beaches, according to Realtor Jill Tighe Kelly, of Sotheby’s. Private beach areas and docks constitute some of the top amenities throughout Greenwich’s neighborhood associations stretching the coast.
For Harbor Point residents, a 1,500-foot, crescent-shaped private beach offers enthralling vistas. Susan Kaupie, of Centric Property Group, led a tour to its upper point, where the chatter of seagulls and crunch of seashells are the only noises at low tide. “This is a true amenity,” she said.
Down the road, trees obscure entry to a modest dirt path that leads to Harbor Point’s other notable feature — a deep-water dock with boat slips. The average price tag for the private views and dock, based on 10 years of sales, is north of $6 million.
In central Greenwich, across the Post Road from Greenwich High School, Milbrook offers security, gated entrances and Tudor-style homes balanced on sloping rock ledges. With its access to downtown, Milbrook has grown in popularity, McElwreath said. The neighborhood has had 65 sales at an average price of around $2.5 million since 2007.
Also in central Greenwich and close to town are Deer Park, once Rockefeller land with pathways to Brunswick and Greenwich Academy schools, in addition to Bailiwick, Calhoun Drive, Khakum Wood and Sherwood Farms.
On the western side of town lies one of Greenwich’s newest private neighborhoods that residents describe as “turn-key living.” Local real estate developer and hotel owner John Fareri completed Chieftans in the mid-1990s.
It is comprised of 97 acres, 28 homes and provides almost any amenity a homeowner could want, according to Chieftans resident Valerie Yanni. For a monthly common charge, homeowners receive services for their lawns, gutters, trash pick-up, snow removal and more. “It’s easy living for busy people,” said Barbara Zaccagnini, of Coldwell Banker.
Immediately behind the gated entrance, a road lined with precisely spaced trees leads into the close-knit neighborhood. White and green posts announce properties’ addresses in their front yards. Without appearing uniform, most homes are designed in the style of English manors with slate roofs and large mahogany doors.
With all the high-end design flourishes, properties in Chieftans go for around $3 million, based on its 18 sales in the past 10 years.
Up in the far corner of backcountry Greenwich, Conyers Farm rambles across 1,500 acres. To many, these estates are iconic Greenwich. In the past decade, there have been more than 30 sales, with an average sale price of nearly $10 million. With its millionaire and billionaire residents, Conyers Farms is one of the most closely monitored private associations.
It illustrates “discrete elegance,” according to Fran Ehrlich of Sotheby’s. “It provides an idyllic existence. There’s community, but it’s a respectful balance with the privacy people want.”
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