Funding for the acquisition and upkeep of the red-painted 18th Century house by the Grupes Reservoir at 1124 Valley Road would come through the town from the New Canaan Land Trust, according to First Selectman Kevin Moynihan.
The town in April had offered $1.2 million to the property’s owner—the First Taxing District of the Norwalk Water Department—for the house and entire 4-acre parcel there, but that offer was rejected.
During a press briefing Thursday, Moynihan said the property owner had offered to sell the house and .83 acres for $900,000, “which is absurd,” he said.
“The idea that this could be anywhere north of $250,000 is absurd, especially when it has unique characteristics,” Moynihan said during the briefing, held in his office at Town Hall. “Nobody could build there.”
The $250,000 figure is based on a recent appraisal, Moynihan said.
In order for the sale to go through, the property which abuts the Land Trust’s 10.3-acre Browne Wildlife Sanctuary would need to be subdivided.
It isn’t clear whether the town would remain the long-term owner of the property once it served as the purchaser, using monies from the Land Acquisition Fund supplied by a Land Trust donor. However, the town would only support the transaction if the Land Trust “put money aside” for its future maintenance. If the Land Trust decided to rent out the home, it would be taxable, Moynihan said, as opposed to if it were to be used as a museum or something similar. The Land Trust is no longer interested in using the house for its administrative offices (it could go into Irwin House), he said.
Land Trust officials and preservationists have been trying to figure out a way to acquire and protect the property since it hit the market in February 2015 at $2.25 million. Its owners six months ago applied for a demolition permit for the house, kickstarting an extended and at times contentious negotiation between the town and Taxing District.
A committee of the town in March imposed a 90-day delay on the demolition. Town officials in April said they were interesting in taking the property by eminent domain, while the Land Trust offered to pay $1.2 million for it.
Taxing District officials have said they’ve offered to sell the house itself to the New Canaan Land Trust, with about .8 acres around it, for less than the $1.2 million that the organization has offered to pay for the entire parcel—apparently that’s the $900,000 figure—and have offered in the past to let the Land Trust or any other interested party physically remove the home if they want it.
In May, the property’s owners pulled their application to demolish the antique and reiterated that they would sell the house on Valley Road, though not the entire parcel. (The property last was appraised at $1,590,600, according to tax records.)