Darien will enter into negotiations for $100 million island

The estate of William Ziegler Jr. His father purchased Great Island in 1902 for a summer estate.

The estate of William Ziegler Jr. His father purchased Great Island in 1902 for a summer estate.

Contributed Photo / ST

DARIEN—The town is eyeing the purchase of a portion of a storied family estate on Darien’s Great Island in a multi-million dollar deal.

On Monday, the Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to authorize Darien to enter in negotiations for the property, which has been listed at $100 million.

The property, which was first purchased in 1902, encompasses the sprawling 63 acres of Great Island, connected to Darien by Rings End Bridge.

Built as a summer estate by William Ziegler, a baking soda magnate and billionaire who died in 1905, the property was first listed in 2016 by Ziegler’s descendants.

At the time, the owners asked for $175 million, before knocking it down first to $120 million and again to its current price of $100 million.

First Selectman Monica McNally said she will continue to have discussions with the owners of the property in “the hopes of arriving at a mutually agreed upon price.”

But she said she believed the acquisition would prove to be a major asset for the town as one of the largest remaining parcels of undeveloped land in Darien.

“Great Island not only has a unique history, it is the last and best property of its kind that is available on the entire East Coast United States,” McNally said. “There will never ever be another opportunity for the town to control this property's destiny, or to add an asset to benefit all of us, like this, for us and for generations to come.”

Any purchase will be subject to final approval by multiple bodies of town government, including the Board of Finance and Representative Town Meeting.

Great Island has generated national interest as one of the last family-owned estates hailing from the Gilded Age. The property, which has been in the family for more than a century, features a 13,000 square foot main residence, multiple other smaller guest houses and cottages, an equestrian facility and a private beach.

“I believe that 200 years from now, when people look at this property, they will look favorably on this transaction,” McNally said.