At a recent auction, one determined bidder snapped up two clusters of isles along the picturesque Susquehanna River for an unbelievably low price – but what will he do with 9 private islands?
For those who have ever dreamed of island ownership at a reasonable price, one Pennsylvania man’s story will certainly be an inspiration. Last month, a back-tax auction held in Luzerne County by the government revenue service offered bidders the opportunity to pick up real estate at fire-sale prices, and for local attorney John Nardone, two of the lots were too good to pass up. “I wanted to acquire something unique, and this was a rare opportunity to buy unique property,” he said.
The properties in question were two groupings of private islands on the pretty Susquehanna River, known as Miller’s Island and Mack’s Island, with respectively 5 and 4 islands each. According to local media reports, the officials in charge of the auction were far from optimistic that the islands would find a buyer, and expected them to proceed from the upset sale to a free-and-clear auction where the bidding would have started as low as a few hundred dollars.
“We didn’t think there would be any takers,” said John Rodgers, a county tax-claim operator with the regional revenue service. John Nardone did have a little competition at the auction, however – a few other interested bidders did show up, but the competition lacked much resolve. When the dust settled, Nardone was the proud winner of the nine islands, and for a price that in the elite world of private islands, sounds too good to be true. In fact, despite the fact that they were assessed at $45,100 and $48,000, he picked them up for less than the price of most cars.
The Mack’s Island group, totalling 23.5 acres, went for US $15,000 plus back taxes, and the five Miller islands ended at a mere $1,750 – the taxes owing were about $3,000 for each property. Nardone said that his plans for his islands were modest – he doesn’t plan on pursuing development permission, and wants to keep them “in their natural state.” He hasn’t been to visit the properties yet, but intends to do so soon – and might, he said, try to name a few of them after his kids. What really seemed to appeal to Nardone was the prospect of a peaceful retreat in nature. “I hope to do some fishing there someday,” he said.
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