Category Archives: Bungalow Colonies

Five Figure Fridays! Now Here’s An Idea…

It’s always fun to stumble across a listing that you’ve seen in real life.  Even more delightful is finding one that you’ve ogled repeatedly in the real world, and discovering that it costs less than a hundred grand.  So imagine my delight at running across the listing for this property, which I eyeball every time I drive up Route 23A in Palenville.

The main building

Less than ten minutes from Exit 20 on the Thruway, this compound sits right at the base of the steep pass that leads up past Kaaterskill Falls to Tannersville and Hunter.  There’s a main log cabin house/lodge, a recreational building, and six (!) cabins with en suite bathrooms on 1.5 acres.

A smattering of cabin/bungalows

The condition is handled with a terse “It needs work.”  Fair enough.  With that out of the way, it’s a terrifically retro-charming place.  It looks like somewhere my grandparents would have stayed on their 1949 drive across the country (in their Oldsmobile sedan with three kids and two dachshunds).

A camping hut!

Brick red siding and all-pine-all-the-time interiors?  A gigantic river stone fireplace?  Sign me up.

A riot of knotty pine

Best of all, with all those buildings it feels eminently shareable.  So I started back-of-the-napkin brainstorming: six like-minded folks or families kick in enough to buy the place and fix the big issues in the lodge/rec building.  Everybody gets their own cabin, to fix up as they please.  Weeks in the main lodge are split up timeshare-style – everybody would get eight weeks a year.

Load up the rec building with foosball, pool, skee-ball, etc. and turn the kids loose.  Did I mention there’s a stone fire pit in front of each cabin, and a koi pond?  The pitch writes itself!

Of course, on sober reflection, an acre and a half is close quarters for six families, especially when the tiny camping cabins probably don’t have, um, kitchens.  And it’s right next to a busy trunk road – like, RIGHT next to.  And who knows what shape the main systems are in.

Sigh.

Still, it’s a fascinating property.  Anybody been dreaming of running a rental cottage business?

After the jump: property stats, plus a bunch more photos.  Enjoy!

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Two Spring Glen Bungalows, $6,000 each

Update: Word from the colony-dwellers, post-Irene. “I just got word that though Old 209 in Spring Glen now has some issues, our colony was not flooded and I think Spring Glen as a whole faired pretty well. We are still without power and we had a couple of downed trees, but not an abundance of water. Apparently there are some dry (and sunny) patches in this region.”

Folks have been writing to us pretty steadily, telling us about their lovely and undiscovered little upstate New York bungalow colonies–as our frequent readers know, a longstanding obsession of mine. Pretty soon, we’ll be having a listings feature on Upstater, where you can add your own properties for rent or sale. In the meantime, I thought these Spring Glen bungalows were worth a mention, entirely because of the pricetag: yep, six-thousand-bucks for a country house, perhaps the most affordable country house in upstate New York. The yearly fees come to less than $1,800.

Sadly, we don’t have pictures of the insides. These photos were sent by fellow colony-ers who are handling the sale for their former neighbors and have an interest in finding like-minded, community-oriented folk to inhabit them. The colony is called Sunrise Cottages (one we didn’t know about back when we made our initial list of rentable and buyable bungalows in colonies). It has 16 units altogether in Spring Glen, a small, rural town in the western part of Ulster County, which houses a bunch of other bungalow colonies, too. This one has a pool and four acres. On the jump, you’ll find a complete write up from the folks handling the sale; you can email them here if you’re interested in taking a look. I’m personally holding out for one of the larger colonies that has a day camp for the kiddos, but I’d love to hear if anyone goes to see these. Let us know.

From the colony-folk: The first unit stands alone and has no stairs. The screen porch is enormous  There is a large eat-in kitchen, a single full bathroom with shower & tub, an enormous closet and two large built-ins and a single large living/bedroom.  Formerly, the people had large card games and parties in the screen porch and had roll-aways in the kitchen and porch when needed.  The house comes with furniture, pots & pans, dishes and this unit was loved and well kept. Additionally, there is already a spot on the property adjacent to the house set aside for a shed. Read the rest of this entry

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Smallwood, NY

In response to our piece about Bethel earlier this week, Sullivan County buyers’ agent and blogger David Knudsen posted a detailed comment about the ins and outs of Smallwood, a Bethel hamlet and private lake community. David’s comment anticipates a lot of the questions a city buyer might have about Smallwood’s range of prices and seasonal vs. year-round housing, so we thought it worth highlighting:

“[A]bout prices .. Yes, you will see some seasonals occasionally listed or selling as low as $35,000. But a more realistic range for a ‘seasonal’ (on community water, not with a drilled well to permit year round use) is probably $55,000 to $80,0000. Something priced ‘too good to be true’ most likely will have either wood rot in sill plates, floor joists or structural members; foundation support issues or problems with old septics or cesspools. Any of those items can be very costly to repair even in a very small house.
In Smallwood, buyers need to pay particular attention to a house’s ‘private sewage system’ (septic or cesspool). Quite a few are old and in not great shape. The lot sizes are also small (seasonals are typically on 50 x 100 foot lots), so if you have a problem septic you may have to put in a fairly pricey aerobic system.
One question I’m often asked is can you convert a ‘seasonal’ to ‘year round’ use by drilling a well (so you have a year round water source.) The answer in almost all cases is ‘no’. The reason is that there are now minimum distances required in code between a well and a septic, and not just between a septic on your property and your proposed well, but between your proposed well and the septic on any adjoining property. On these small parcels, particularly with adjoining houses and septics, you can’t meet the minimums to drill a new well.‘Year rounders’ (houses with already drilled wells) generally start around $90,000 and go up to $140K or so. (More for houses ringing the lake with lake views.)Smallwood can be a great, affordable getaway — particularly for city folks that are looking for more summer use, and content themselves with a ‘seasonal.’

 

We really appreciated David’s inside take, so we gave him a call to get more Smallwood info. Read the rest of this entry

Vintage Log Cabin in Smallwood/Bethel for $90,000

Taken out of context, I wouldn’t have guessed that this two bedroom log cabin in Bethel’s Smallwood community was built in 1936.  Given the size I might have thought “house trailer,” but like many of the homes in this Sullivan County lakeside hamlet, this little guy has some cute period details.  The stone fireplace is original and there’s a stone basement as well. The fenced-in lot is small and only semi-private, like most of the tiny lots in Smallwood, though it does claim a free-standing gazebo. There are two screened-in summer porches, including one off the back that looks spacious enough for snoring guests. Love the striped shutters!

The cottage is currently used for three seasons, so it would need to be winterized for year-round use. Some homes in Smallwood only have running water from October through April, but this house has its own well, which means all year water access.

The $90,000 asking price puts at the high-end of the middle range for Smallwood. You can pay less for a bungalow that would need more work or find something above $100,000 that’s fully updated and winterized. This cabin is in move-in condition, but I can also imagine doing an update and some decorating that would play up the 1930s bungalow vibe. Goodbye poker-playing puppies, hello waterfall furniture and lucite bowls?

Smallwood Cabin (Baer & McIntosh Real Estate) GMAP

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Spring Glen Bungalow, $59,000

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As our regular readers know, I have a longstanding obsession with bungalow colonies. I went to visit one this weekend that had a unit for sale (it was also having a group tag sale, a big part of the draw).

The house above is divided into four units, and folks bought the two in the front and tore down some walls to make it one. They’ll sell it as two, for $29,500 each–you’ll have to get a licensed contractor in to restore it, but I think it will only run you a few thousand bucks–or you can take it whole. I got to see someone else’s freestanding bungalow, replete with 50’s minty green tile in the kitchen, so I know how adorable these places could be. This bungalow leaves something to be desired in the cuteness factor, and it also faces the road–though it’s a pretty mellow road. It still feels like two tiny units, with two sleeping lofts and two tiny living rooms and one long skinny kitchen–a little unfinished-feeling, but easy enough to repair.

In addition to your tiny slice of heaven, you get access to the pool, playground, eight acres of land and your very sweet neighbors, most of whom are New Yorkers, of course. Yearly fees, including taxes, are $3,600. The owner is willing to rent it to a party seriously interested in buying. If interested, email the owner’s friend and fellow colony-er, who’s helping out since the owner has moved out of the country. owner.

But I also got a taste of the downside of bungalow life. Read the rest of this entry

Lakefront in Elizaville, $365,000

There’s a reason you can hardly see the house in this listing on Twin Lakes in Elizaville, N.Y.: it’s not much to look at. I toured it last summer (it was for rent then), and it’s very humble–a three-bedroom pre-fab box with a cute little IKEA kitchen, an evocation of the 1950s bungalow colony without the colony part. Neither of the two Twin Lakes is particularly upscale, but South Twin Lake is private–no public beach for the riff-raff (which often includes me and my family), no motor boats. Yet South Twin Lake is also home to a summer camp, just across the water from this listing, so your peace and quiet might occasionally be interrupted by the squeals of high-jumping youth. On the other hand, it’s a very short commute if you’re looking for summer activities for your wee ones.

Still, this is lakefront Hudson Valley property, a quick drive to restaurants in Tivoli, the art movie theater in Rhinebeck, the performing arts center at Bard, the glory of both the Catskills and the Berkshires. The Amtrak station in Rhinecliff is 25 minutes away. If you could talk the owners down–and I think you could–you could pick up an affordable piece of property and revamp it to suit your needs. The cottage has a fireplace, and the surrounding neighborhood is quiet and safe and walkable, a few nice plusses.

South Twin Lakes, Elizaville GMAP
Distance to NYC: 107 miles; 2 hours, 25 minutes
Transportation: Amtrak to Rhinecliff station
Land: Double city lot
Neighbors? Yes
Water: Lakefront
Bedrooms: 3
Baths: 1

Where to Rent or Buy in an Upstate N.Y. Bungalow Colony

We’ve had several requests for more information about renting or buying in bungalow colonies in Upstate New York after our first post about Lake Huntington Summer Community. Readers, voila: a preliminary list of Catskills bungalow colonies that offer rentals or have properties for sale–affordable second homes or cheap vacation rentals near New York City. If you know of more, please email us!

Lansmans
This is one of the few colonies to successfully transform into a 21st century version of its 50s heyday self (they have a website for folks who want to reminisce about the mid-century colony). Per the website: “100 beautiful wooded acres off Murphy Road in Woodbourne, NY. The approximately 85 summer cottages are situated throughout the grounds. Lansman’s sports a grand in-ground heated pool, four tournament tennis courts, full court basketball and paddleball courts, baseball and sports fields, the premier summer day camp, a casino and restaurant, weekend shows, a card room, full time maintenance staff and much much more.” They have bungalows for rent or sale including a one-bedroom bungalow with deck–$4,500 for a full spring-through-fall rental, or $12,000 to buy.

Buffalo Colony
The Buffalo Colony, also in Woodburne, N.Y. has a swimming pool, basketball and volleyball courts and a communal building, and 30 units spread out over 103 acres. Many of these are larger homes, suitable for families or groups of friends, including an early 19th century schoolhouse — which looks very nice to us. They have bungalows for rent and for sale.

Fiume Bello
The name means “beautiful river,” so-called for the Mamaketing Brook that bisects it. Located in Spring Glen, N.Y., the colony is a co-op of 12 bungalows on eight acres, a common building called the Casino, and a pool. One bungalow is currently for sale, profiled last week on Upstater–the $26,500 bungalow that is one of the most affordable vacation homes in the Catskills that we’ve seen. They don’t officially rent here, or let you sublet, so the way in is buying. Taxes: $2,400/year. No train, but the Short Line bus goes to the Post Office on Old Route 209.

Spring Glen Corners
Spring Glen Corners, also in Spring Glen, N.Y., has 22 bungalows, a children’s play area, pool, landscaped grounds, a garden, rec room, laundry room and communal canoes. They do allow rentals and suggest that’s a good way to get in with the community. Currently a unit for sale for $59,000, with annual taxes and fees of $3,600. Here’s more from the owner: “It’s a double bungalow in Spring Glen Corners with more than twice the usual space of a typical bungalow because we also have two sleeping lofts and a huge yard that no one else uses. We’ve completely modernized the electric system and put on a new roof. We’re selling equipped and furnished (except for the kitchen table and my daugher’s bedroom set) so it’s completely turn-key.” Contact the owner if interested. The NY Times wrote up the colony in 2005.

Rosmarins
Rosmarins has 100 cottages, a lake, pool (one for grownups and one for kiddies), tennis courts, playgrounds, a snack shop, a day camp for the kids and a Saturday night lounge act! It’s in Monroe, N.Y., 39 miles from the George Washington Bridge, and, if you tire of colony life, 10 minutes from Woodbury Commons.

The $26,500 Bungalow

Upstate New York bungalow colonies offer some of the most affordable second homes in the Catskills, but this one has got to be the deal of the decade. I first saw it advertised last year for $30,000, when the owners, a Park Slope couple, were relocating to Vermont. It still hasn’t sold, and they’re now far away, so the price for this 700-square-foot one-bedroom is now reduced to $26,500. Taxes are $2400/year, payable in three installments.

It’s part of a community of 12 bungalows called “Fiume Bello”–beautiful river–that began in the 1950s. It was essentially rescued from ruin by a co-op of families in the 70s, and the children of that wave of settlers now inhabit the bungalows, which are spread out over eight acres in Spring Glen, N.Y. They have a pool and a big field and big group dinners and bonfires if you want to participate in the group activity. Read the rest of this entry

Wanna Buy a Bungalow Colony?

As I mentioned last week, the proverbial one [piece of real estate] that got away for me was a bungalow colony in Sullivan County, put on the market before the real estate balloon of the mid-2000s.

The good news is that there are a number of other colonies and camps for sale upstate–all faring better than the places on Vanishing Catskills–and I came upon Taylored Real Estate in my search for a new property. Not a great UI on the site, but there are a number of colonies, camps, old hotels and resorts for sale. They range from $3.9 million for an old 225-room resort in Liberty, N.Y. (behold the beauty of pink carpets and sky-sized crystal chandelier) to $345,000 for a fixer-upper resort with 10 buildings on 60 acres in Greeneville, NY.

There are plenty of camps and bungalow colonies at prices in between–somewhere between the $1 and $2 million range, which, split among at least 10 folks, hovers in the realm of affordable even for freelance writers. I have yet to find one that I’m willing to drag my pals up to see, but I’ll be looking. Has anybody else considered buying a colony or camp with pals?

When We Say Depressed Real Estate Market…

An abandoned bungalow, a mile from the photographer's home

Since one of us bought a house up here, and the other one devotes far too much time to investigating the purchase of an upstate house, it’s clear that we believe there are deals to be had in the current Upstate real estate market.

Another ex-New Yorker, Raymon Elozua, believes the same, and moved up to Mountaindale, N.Y. to live among the ghosts of buildings that he found around him. (Mountaindale, by the way, is part of that same general area covered in yesterday’s Bungalow Envy post–the Sullivan County stretch that still has plenty of functional, happily inhabited places, as well). His project is Vanishing Catskills, a pictorial map of abandoned Borscht Belt buildings within 10 miles of his home. Sadly, there are a lot of them.

He sees them as ruins, as testaments to Sullivan County’s heyday and decline, but also as interesting on a sculptural and architectural level. We see them as full of potential. We truly believe that in these tough times, folks are searching for economical getaways, and that reviving the bungalow colony is a great way to do it. We’re going to come back as developers in our next lives.

Another interesting thing about Vanishing Catskills: you can buy Elozua’s photo books directly from Apple. Definitely worth having as a coffee table book if you’re joining the ranks of Upstaters.

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