by Mark Pruner

203-969-7900 *

Privacy & Community & Amenities

Greenwich is lucky in that we have a variety of communities. We have duplexes in the R-6 zone in Pemberwick. We have mid-rise apartments in downtown Greenwich and a variety of condos, but what usually gets the national press are some of our largest houses, selling for prices that can get into 8 figures. We have two areas that get particular attention along these lines, Belle Haven on Long Island Sound in the south and Conyers Farm in the north that overlaps the New York border.

Surprisingly, these two large, gated communities are not the gated communities sales leader in Greenwich. Milbrook has had by far the most sales over the last two decades with 195 sales from 1999 to 2021 (which is as long as the GMLS has kept electronic records.) These 195 compare to 139 sales for Belle Haven and only 61 sales in Conyers Farm.

If you look at total sales dollar over the same period, then Belle Haven with its combination of the second highest sales number and very high average sales has total dollar sales volume of $854 million compared to Milbrook’s $440 million, which shows just diverse Milbrook housing is with homes ranging from 1,700 s.f. to 10,000 s.f.

              Our hidden away gated communities

In addition to the big three of Milbrook, Belle Haven and Conyers Farm, we have some really nice, gated associations tucked away in areas where many people don’t see them as the drive by or that are down a long road. Classic examples of the latter are Partridge Hollow in north central Greenwich and Harbor Point in Riverside. Both are at the end of long roads with manned security stations.

They provide lots of privacy and also great places to walk and meet your neighbors. I was lucky last year to represent a seller in Harbor Point and a buyer in Partridge Hollow. They are both great places to live. In fact, they are such great places that people don’t leave. Partridge Hollow has had 23 sales on the GMLS in 22 years and Harbor Point has only had 20 sales in the same period.

Part of the reason for this is that there are a lot of intra-community private sales. While many gated-community homeowners love their community, they often have their heart set on that one perfect house in their community. They let their neighbor know, that when it’s time to sell, they’d love the first option to buy. In my Partridge Hollow purchase my clients had been looking for the perfect Greenwich house for two years. Fortunately, we found the perfect community for them and closed on the private sale, before it got to market.

              Sales history

Gated communities are special and there aren’t a lot of them. Most years we have 15 to 30 sales in these communities; and then came the pandemic. In 2020, sales in gated communities jumped to 44 sales and in 2021, sales further increased to 53 sales. This was a jump of 150% in sales over the prior 10-year average of 21 sales.

The pandemic encouraged people to seek out more privacy and space, the increase in crime in NYC during the pandemic also strongly encouraged, interest in these gated communities with security gates and/or patrolling security.

Paradoxically, the outdoors amenities of Milbrook, Conyers Farm, Belle Haven and the other gated communities also drew buyers to these communities. There are probably few sports that are better for social distancing than golfing at Milbrook, sailing at Belle Haven or horse riding at Conyer’s Farm. Of course, the beach and it’s own picnic island at Harbor Point isn’t bad. Nor is a walk at Mead Point or Field Point Circle with it’s beautiful water views and no traffic to speak of.

Clearly, the club house, dining room, tennis, paddle and water views at both Belle Haven and Milbrook bring in a lot of people. They also make for a congenial crowd of neighbors from a wide range of backgrounds and nationalities. There is nothing like a couple of sets of paddle tennis, a drink afterwards and having spouses join you for dinner to make for a relaxing evening in a world that can seem very complicated. Of course, a lot of folks say that about Greenwich as whole.

              Renovations and additions

There is one issue with what might otherwise seem idyllic places; they aren’t making any more of them. The youngest gated communities are the Chieftans in western Greenwich and Conyers Farm on the New York border. Both of these “newbies” were carved out of two of the Greenwich’s great estates in the eighties, while Belle Haven goes back to the 19th Century and Milbrook was founded in the 1920s.

As a result, they both have a variety of older houses that are great candidates for renovation, which is just what they owners did at 113 Woodside Drive in Milbrook. It’s hard to believe it is the same house. The original house they purchased in 2015, sat on a wonderful lakefront lot, but was an older colonial with half a second floor and a 2-car garage stuck on the side.

The new purchasers transformed it into a Tudor, one of the traditional designs in Milbrook. They created a full second floor with extra height ceilings and four bedrooms. The first floor and lower level were totally redone and to balance out the design, a second 2-car garage was added. So far. we have had 10 showing requests and the house isn’t even officially on the market. You can stop by the public open house on Sunday from 1 – 4 pm to see the transformation yourself.

Since they aren’t making any more gated communities, it’s not a bad place to consider investing give the limited supply and high demand.

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