The Hamptons are increasingly a hotbed for crazy real estate offerings, from Andy Warhol’s recently listed former compound now selling for $85 million to the teeny tiny trailer in Amagansett asking $1.2 million earlier this year. But now NPR reports that there’s an 840-acre island just off the tip of Long Island complete with miles and miles of untouched shoreline, acres of undeveloped woods, a lighthouse and a ferry terminal that could go for as much as $1 billion when it hits the auction block. Oh, yes, and it’s also contaminated with foot-and-mouth disease.
Called Plum Island, from 1955 up until 2008, the island was the only legal place to conduct research on foot-and-mouth disease, which, though completely harmless to humans, carries the potential of destroying the $60 billion U.S. cattle industry. When Congress authorized the Department of Homeland Security to find a new research site in 2008, it was decided that the facility would be moved to Kansas, and the government has been trying to sell Plum Island ever since.
While the island’s bovine past may sour your vision of it as the ultimate escape, Plum’s tour guide, Jason Golden, says that the island’s offer is one of the most incredible around. In addition to the aforementioned beach, woods, lighthouse and ferry terminal, there’s also fresh water, an old Army base, a power plant, and an expanse of unspoiled wetlands and forests about the size of Central Park.
Jonathan Miller, the real estate appraiser who drew up the $1 billion estimate, also adds that the island’s location off the Hamptons just can’t be beat. As he told NPR, “So there’s many examples of quote unquote ‘stigmatized properties’ that — who would think anyone would live in these? And then you gut it, strip it, remediate, create a high-end real estate product that breaks records in the neighborhood.”
Though developers would be quick to throw up luxury properties, since the government facility’s closing, environmentalists have been championing for federal park and nature preserve and they are ready to block any development that doesn’t protect the local ecology.
An auction date for the island will be set when the Department of Homeland Security has a better idea of when the Kansas facility will be complete.
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