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Contract Signed For $7.5 M Sale of Astor Estate

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – A contract was signed last week for the sale of Brooke Astor's Holly Hill estate at 298 Scarborough Road for close to $7.5 million.

The 64.5-acre estate belonged to the late philanthropist Brooke Astor, who died in August 2007 at the age of 105. It includes a 10,000-square-foot, 13-bedroom, 11-bathroom home, a four-bedroom gardener's cottage, a carriage house, a barn, a greenhouse, an outdoor pool, an indoor pool and a pool house. The house was designed in the 1920s by architect Delano Aldrich, who also designed large buildings for the Rockefellers and others.

"The house was on the market for three years and there was a lot of interest and activity," said David Turner, the exclusive listing agent for the property who works for Houlihan Lawrence in Bedford. "This buyer came along who appreciated it for its beauty and value and recognized that it was very well priced."

The buyer, who Turner would not name, intends to keep the Holly Hill estate more or less as it is, rather than carving it up into parcels and developing condominiums, Turner said. The agent said he expected to close on the sale before the end of the year.

Briarcliff Village Manager Philip Zegarelli said he thinks having a buyer that intends to keep Holly Hill mostly the same is "an asset to the village." Carving the estate up into parcels for housing development would have brought in more taxes, but it would have also cost the village more money in services, the village manager said.

"You really need to put pencil to paper to calculate that type of thing. It removes the potential controversy of anything that should arise from subdivision and it helps keep Briarcliff the type of community that it is," Zegarelli said.

Turner said three years was not a long time for an estate of Holly Hill's size to be on the market.

The estate was originally on the market for $12.9 million in November of 2008. The price dropped to $10.5 million in 2009, to $8.5 million in June of this year, and to $7.5 million on Aug. 5. Property taxes for the estate are estimated to be $153,000 annually.

"It was a matter of reaching a price where it was irresistible," Turner said. "It came onto the listings in fall of 2008 which was not a great time to be trying to sell expensive real estate. But it came to an offering price that this buyer and other buyers and agents recognized as a good buy."

Astor's only son, Anthony Marshall, was convicted last year of altering his mother's will, which left $60 million to charities. He was sentenced to one to three years in prison but is currently free on bail while appealing his conviction.

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