Arden House sells for $6.5 million

| 15 Feb 2012 | 10:03

    SouFun Holdings, a Beijing real estate Web site, expected to use former Harriman property as a conference center HARRIMAN — The Arden House in Harriman, which is owned by the Open Space Institute and also doubles as a conference center, was sold for $6.5 million to Research Center on Natural Conservation. The Open Space Institute had originally purchased the property for $4 million in 2007, according to a New York Observer report on Wednesday. The house was originally built by railroad executive Edward Henry Harriman in 1909. The 100,000-square-foot home was completed only seven months before he died. Sale restrictions In the Observer story, Richard Warshauer of Colliers International, who represented the institute, said Open Space decided to sell because the property no longer fit into its plans and the group found a “they had better uses for their resources.” An international search, drawing interest from educational institutions, various nonprofits and private buyers as well was conducted, according to the Observer, adding “the property had sale restrictions—it can only be sold to another nonprofit. Also, 400 of the property’s 450 acres had a conservation easement, protecting the land and its surrounding trees.” The principals of the Research Center on Natural Conservation are part of SouFun Holdings, a Beijing real estate Web site, the Observer said. In 2010, SouFun Holdings purchased a training center formerly owned by the American International Group (AIG) for $46 million. Warshauer said the new owners plan to use the space as a conference center. The property is not to be confused with the 13.60 acres of land adjacent to the Arden Home estate in the Arden section of the Town of Tuxedo owned by Kathleen Harriman Mortimer, the younger of the two daughters of W. Averell Harriman and his first wife Kitty Lanier Lawrance; or the 341 acres owned by her sons David and Jay Mortimer. Property owned by the Mortimer family contains the privately owned and breeched Echo Lake Dam. Historical rainfalls associated with Hurricane Irene at the end of August caused a loss of 100 million gallons of water from Echo Lake and created catastrophic flooding in the Town of Tuxedo. Background In the early 1900s, Edward Henry Harriman’s sons W. Averell and E. Roland Harriman hired landscape architect Arthur P. Kroll to work closely with the head gardener and landscape the acreage. It was from this estate that his widow would donate 10,000 acres to New York State to create Harriman State Park in 1910. In 1950, W. Averell Harriman deeded the property to Columbia University as “home of The American Assembly,” a public policy institution founded by Dwight D. Eisenhower the same year. The house was identified as America’s first conference center. In 1966, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.