Category Archives: Katharine Hepburn House

Asking Price Cut On Hepburn’s ‘Paradise’ In Old Saybrook

by Categorized: Islands For Sale, Katharine Hepburn House Date:

It appears even paradise has limits when it comes to asking price.

Katharine Hepburn's former home in the borough of Fenwick. Courant File Photo/Richard Messina

Katharine Hepburn’s former home in the borough of Fenwick. Courant File Photo/Richard Messina

Katharine Hepburn’s storied, seaside home in Old Saybrook — which the Oscar-winning actress once described as “paradise” — is back on the market at a reduced asking price of  $14.8 million.

The price is for Hepburn’s home and a third of the 3.5-acre estate purchased by owner Frank J. Sciame and his wife Barbara for $6 million in 2004, a year after the actress’ death.

The Sciames subdivided the estate into three lots and pursued an extensive top-to-bottom renovation of Hepburn’s house. The renovations included raising the entire house 5-1/2 feet to guard against flooding.

Sciame

Sciame

Most recently, the entire, 3-lot estate had been on the market for $30 million. But Sciame had pulled the shoreline property off the market last year, after two years and no offers to match the asking price.

Sciame told me today the lot with Hepburn’s 8,500-square-foot house was now “priced to sell.” Even though marketing in recent years had been focused on the entire property, the main house was available for $18 million.

“After 10 years, it’s time to move on,” Sciame, a Manhattan-based developer, said. “We always bought it as an investment property, and we decided the best return on investment would be selling as three lots.”

See a gallery of photos from the Hepburn estate.

The Sciames originally had planned to sell the renovated estate as soon as the work was done, but they kept it as a summer house for several years because it became a family favorite.

Sciame is nearing completion on a 3,000-square-foot beach house on the lot to the east of the main house. The Sciames intend to keep that house, at least for now, and they are pursuing approvals to build on the third lot.

A view showing the new beach house under construction to the east of the Hepburn house. Photo Courtesy of Sciame Construction, LLC.

A view showing the new beach house under construction to the east of the Hepburn house. Photo Courtesy of Sciame Construction, LLC.

Sciame said he believes the three lots — at one time marketed as having potential for a “family compound” — will eventually fetch the $30 million he had been asking, or even more.

The sale of the property has run into a slow market for expensive homes that followed the most recent recession. Recently, however, sales have picked up in exclusive markets in Fairfield County, most notably Greenwich.

The Hepburn House came on the market Friday, according to Colette Harron, a real estate agent at Sotheby’s International Realty in Essex.

“I’ve already had some calls from Los Angeles,” said Harron, who has the listing.

 

 

 

 

 

Taylor Swift Came Close To Buying Kate’s Place

by Categorized: Katharine Hepburn House Date:

Taylor Swift’s house hunting earlier this year came close to giving the country-pop star a high-profile Connecticut address: Katharine Hepburn’s seaside estate in the Old Saybrook borough of Fenwick.

Taylor Swift. Photo Credit: Jeff Blake/The MCT/State

Taylor Swift.
Photo Credit: Jeff Blake/The MCT/State

“She actually liked it a lot,”  Frank J. Sciame Jr., who purchased and renovated the Hepburn estate, told me. “We couldn’t come to an agreement on the price.”

Sciame was asking $30 million for the 8,300-square-foot mansion with 15 rooms and 7-1/2 bathrooms. He has since taken it off the market and is now building a second, 2,800-square-foot house on the property.

Sciame talked about Swift’s interest in the Hepburn estate (photos) during an interview about his latest project in Connecticut: the redevelopment of the Croft estate in Essex.

Swift eventually purchased an 11,000-square-foot oceanfront manse in Watch Hill, R.I  this spring for $17 million. She reportedly paid cash for the property originally listed at $20 million.

Katharine Hepburn's former home in the borough of Fenwick. Courant File Photo/Richard Messina

Katharine Hepburn’s former home in the borough of Fenwick. Courant File Photo/Richard Messina

When asked if Fenwick was a bit too quiet for the 23-year-old T. Swift, Sciame laughed a bit: “I wouldn’t comment on that.”

You have to wonder after seeing photos of Swift’s Fourth of July party this summer in Watch Hill.

And would the Fenwick crowd welcome a “22″-like party:

Third Connecticut Lighthouse Gets Private Owner

by Categorized: Katharine Hepburn House, Lighthouses Date:

A third lighthouse in Connecticut has joined the small, exclusive club of privately-owned beacons in the state — but unlike the two others, there are no plans to use it as a home.

The Saybrook Breakwater Lighthouse has been sold for $340,0000 in an online government auction. Photo by John Woike/jwoike@courant.com

The Saybrook Breakwater Lighthouse has been in an online government auction. Photo by John Woike/jwoike@courant.com

The Saybrook Breakwater Lighthouse off the coast of the Old Saybrook borough of Fenwick, has been purchased for $340,000 by Kelly K. Navarro. Navarro snapped up the 48-foot, “spark-plug” style lighthouse through a limited-liability company, Water III, in an online auction conducted this summer by the federal government.

The 127-year-old lighthouse near the Old Saybrook borough of Fenwick is within view of two residences also owned by Navarro’s company and not far from the former estate of the late actress Katharine Hepburn.

Navarro declined the request for an interview with The Courant. But the General Services Administration, which conducted the auction, said it has been told Navarro intends to restore the exterior and badly deteriorated interior but not convert it into a home.

The move to preserve the lighthouse drew praise locally, the lighthouse being closely tied to the town’s development as a waterfront community.

“It’s a signature for the town,” Marie McFarlin, the society’s president, told me. “It’s a strong symbol about being on the water and the town’s history.”

The lighthouse also is known as the “Outer Light” to distinguish it from a conical lighthouse on the mainland nearby.

” We hope this partnership will insure this Connecticut icon endures for generations to come, said Robert Zarnetske, GSA Regional Administrator for New England.”

Two other Connecticut lighthouses that are privately-owned — Morgan Point lighthouse in the Noank section of Groton and Stamford Harbor Light –  were renovated as summer or weekend getaways.

See my story about lighthouses for sale in Connecticut and what it is like to live in one.

Navarro, the wife of Benjamin W. Navarro, the founder of Sherman Financial Group, a major debt-collection firm, is now negotiating a required lease with the state on the submerged land under the Saybrook Breakwater Lighthouse.

Jean Blanco, Aid to Navigation Team, Long Island Sound, U.S. Coast Guard, shows the power utility room of the Saybrook Breakwater Lighthouse. Photo by JOHN WOIKE | woike@courant.com

Jean Blanco, of the Long Island Sound, U.S. Coast Guard, in the power utility room of the Saybrook Breakwater Lighthouse. Photo by JOHN WOIKE | woike@courant.com

Bidding for the Old Saybrook lighthouse — rendered on some Connecticut vehicle license plates — began at $10,000 in June. There was a flurry of bidding in the last week of the auction, pushing bids from $80,000 to the high bid of $340,000, according to online bidding records.

The auction closed August 9, after drawing eight bidders and 24 individual bids.

Another lighthouse — the Penfield Reef Lighthouse off Fairfield — was expected to also go up for auction to the public this year. But damage caused by Storm Sandy may delay the auction, a GSA spokesman told me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Katharine Hepburn Fenwick Estate Off The Market

by Categorized: Katharine Hepburn House Date:

Katharine Hepburn’s storied home on the Connecticut shore is no longer for sale.

Owner Frank J. Sciame told me late Wednesday that he pulled the estate off the market a week ago after two years and no offers that matched the $30 million asking price.

“I’m not going to sell it for less than the asking price,” Sciame said.

Katharine Hepburn's former home in the borough of Fenwick. Courant File Photo/Richard Messina

Katharine Hepburn’s former home in the borough of Fenwick. Courant File Photo/Richard Messina

Sciame said he and his wife, Barbara, plan to use the house in the exclusive, Old Saybrook enclave of Fenwick as a summer home — as they did before putting it up for sale. They also plan to begin construction of a second, smaller house on the property this fall

“We are going to build a guest house in September, right after Labor Day,” Sciame said.

Sciame disclosed that the house was no longer on the market in an interview with Property Line about his winning a $2.2 million jury award against the company that provided title insurance for the former Hepburn property.

Click here for more photos of the Hepburn Estate

Sciame, a Manhattan-based developer, and his wife, Barbara, purchased the 3.5-acre Hepburn estate for $6 million in 2004, a year after the actress’s death.

They completed a top-to-bottom, multimillion dollar renovation, which included raising the entire house 5-1/2 feet to guard against flooding. The Sciames also secured approval to subdivide the property into three lots, planning for future construction.

Sciame said the complaint against First American involves the title insurers failure to determine that what the Sciames thought was a private driveway actually was a “discontinued road” still owned by the Borough of Fenwick.

The Sciames had purchased $6 million title insurance policy when they purchased the property with a clause that increased coverage to $9 million at the time of the recent trial in Superior Court in Hartford.

First American, Sciame said, first offered to pay Sciame $17,000 in 2007 to compensate for the error, but Sciame balked. In June, the jury awarded $2.2 million and earlier this month, a Superior Court judge in Hartford denied motions by First American to set aside or reduce the award.

Sciame has since worked out an easement with the borough.

“The $2.2 million judgment is a victory for all of us who hold property insurance,” Sciame said. “It sends an unmistakable message that an insurer cannot make a title error on a policyholder’s property and avoid compensating the insured; that it must meet its policy contract obligations in good faith and in full.”

A view to the main house from the lot where a guest house is planned. Photo by Richard Messina/The Hartford Courant

A view to the main house from the lot where a guest house is planned. Photo by Richard Messina/The Hartford Courant

A call to First American’s office in Hartford for comment was not immediately returned today.

This is not the only controversy involving the storied seaside estate where Hepburn spent her retirement years. Sciame also battled with the borough over the height of granite marker posts marking the entrance of the driveway.

Construction on the guesthouse cannot begin until after Labor Day because Fenwick zoning regulations do not permit building in the summer.

The plans call for a 2,750-square foot guest house with three bedrooms that will be built to the east of the 8,500-square-foot main house.

When asked about whether he would sell if a buyer offered the full price now that the house was off the market, Sciame said: “No, not at the moment.”

The $30 million asking price reflected plans for the construction of the guest house. A structure on the third lot also is possible.

The Sciames originally had planned to sell the renovated estate as soon as the work was done, but they kept it as a summer house for several years because it became a family favorite.

“Katharine Hepburn wasn’t wrong when she referred to it as paradise.” Sciame said.

Height Of Posts At Hepburn House Raise Neighborhood Ire

by Categorized: Katharine Hepburn House Date:

Katharine Hepburn kept a pretty low profile in the seaside borough of Fenwick, but the new owners of the actress’ expansive estate got into quite a tussle with the local historic district commission.

The dispute wasn’t over the massive makeover of the Hepburn mansion that raised the house 5-1/2 feet, but the height of two granite posts marking the driveway entrance. The posts were tall enough, apparently, to fuel a two-year court battle that ended this week.

Katharine Hepburn’s former home in the borough of Fenwick. Courant File Photo/Richard Messina

Owner Frank J. Sciame thought that by planting raised flower beds around the posts, he would be reducing the visible size of the posts from five feet to four feet, the height ordered by the commission. The commission disagreed and took Sciame to court.

A Superior Court judged last summer sided with the commission over the height. But Sciame, a prominent New York City developer, pressed the issue in an appeal arguing that he was being harassed by the commission. On Monday, the state Appellate Court backed the lower court ruling.

“The commission can’t pick and choose the orders that they are going to enforce,” Lewis K. Wise, of Rogin Nassau LLC in Hartford, the commission’s attorney, told me today. “He basically ignored their decision. This was a fight that they didn’t pick.”

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“Extras” Now Offered In Sale of Hepburn Estate in Fenwick

by Categorized: Katharine Hepburn House Date:

 

Usually, when a property doesn’t sell after a year, the owner might consider dropping the price.

But the owners of Katharine Hepburn’s seaside estate in Old Saybrook are actually raising it by $2 million to $30 million. But wait until you see the “extras” that they now are throwing in: a 2,750-square-foot guest house with 3 bedrooms that will be built this fall to the east of the main house — the beginnings of a family compound.

There also is the potential for a third house on the property to the west of the main house.

The owners of the Katharine Hepburn estate in the Fenwick borough of Old Saybrook will break ground this fall on a gatehouse on the property. A rendering of how the house will appear is shown above. Source: William Pitt Sotheby's International, Essex.

Frank J. Sciame, a Manhattan-based developer and his wife, Barbara, purchased the Hepburn estate in the exclusive Fenwick enclave after the actress’ death in 2003 and completed a top-to-bottom, multimillion dollar renovation. They also secured approval to subdivide the 3-1/2-acre property into three lots.

The plans were always there to build. The property, however, was first listed as the 8,300-square-foot main house and two undeveloped lots for $28 million. The main house could also be purchased by itself for $18 million.

Although there was interest in the property, no buyers emerged since it was listed in June of last year.

See my story from last year here about the Sciames’ extensive renovations of Hepburn’s English cottage-style home.

John T. Randolph, executive vice president of Sciame Development, told me the construction of the guest house — technically a “gatehouse” because it is the first structure you would see entering the property — would be an absolute plus for marketing the property. Fenwick zoning does not allow guest houses on a single lot property.

“This will differentiate this estate from other properties,” Randolph told me. “A compound estate is something that would be more appealing and have more value.”

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