Sayville, N.Y.: A Walkable Downtown and Victorians by the Bay

An eclectic mix of accessories and clothing boutiques, home-goods shops like Sayville General Store and some 23 restaurants can be found in the hamlet, along with a four-screen movie theater. “Sayville has such a charm about it, and there is a pride among the residents,” said Angie M. Carpenter, the Islip town supervisor.

“They hold many country-like festivals” — like the Sayville Apple Festival, on Oct. 21, at the Islip Grange — “throughout the year,” she said. “There is a real sense of community.”

“The Porch Is Open” reads a sign on the wraparound front porch of the 100-year-old house that Cathy Cohen, 75, has lived in for 48 years. “Neighbors party on it all the time,” Ms. Cohen said. “Even when I’m not home.”

During Ms. Cohen’s 65-year tenure in Sayville, the hamlet has grown and “changed tremendously,” she said. The dairy farm she used to walk to is long gone, and once-vacant lots are now filled with “huge tracts of housing.” Yet the affability remains in what she said is still “a quaint village.”

There are “an amazing amount of people who never left,” Ms. Cohen said. “They grew up, their kids grew up, and generations down, they are still here. It is a great place for raising a family.”

What You’ll Find

Victorians abound. South of Montauk Highway, the main east-west thoroughfare, grandes dames are set back on deep lots along broad, shady avenues stretching south to the bay.

“A sprinkling of homes have docks,” said Andrea Casey, a salesperson with Century 21 Bay’s Edge Realty. While most of the coastline is reserved for commercial and public use, houses along Sunset Drive and West Lane back up to canals.

At the tip of Foster Avenue, Sayville Marina Park’s three tennis courts, sandy beach and boat docks dominate the waterfront. Nearby, manicured gardens and a gazebo at Land’s End Caterers provide a picturesque bay-front setting for weddings, said Manon Compitello, an associate broker with Douglas Elliman Real Estate who lives in Sayville.

Ferries to Cherry Grove, Fire Island Pines, Sailors Haven and the Sunken Forest board at the Sayville Ferry Service docks along River Road.


39 ELM STREET A three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath house built in 1927, listed at $575,000. 631-335-8102

Karen Puglisi/Jump Visual

North of Montauk Highway, there are newer two-story houses built on three-quarter-acre lots on cul-de-sacs. Capes and ranches occupy smaller lots. Condos, co-ops, age-restricted rental apartments and an assisted-living facility line Lakeland Avenue, the thoroughfare stretching north to Sunrise Highway’s big box shopping areas.

What You’ll Pay

“We get a lot of first-time home buyers who want to be in Sayville,” said Leesa Byrnes, broker-owner of Leesa Byrnes Realty. A three-bedroom, two-bath ranch in good shape on a quarter-acre lot, she said, will run between $375,000 and $400,000. Homes that need work range from the low- to mid-$300,000s, while trade-up homes with four bedrooms and two and a half baths on half-acre lots will cost about $650,000.

On Oct. 11, there were 39 houses and nine condominiums on the market. The priciest, at $1,199,000, was a restored five-bedroom 1890 Victorian with an in-ground pool on a half-acre. The least expensive, at $245,000, was a two-bedroom, one-level condo at the age-restricted Sunrise Village, a gated community built in 1987.

Good schools are a draw, Ms. Compitello said, and because Sayville is not incorporated, “you get all the benefits of a town without a village tax.”

But “one of our biggest struggles is our lack of inventory” coupled with “lots of buyers,” she added, noting that homes are selling faster and at higher prices than a year ago. The average sales price in 2017, through Oct. 11, was $453,736, a 5.8 percent increase over the average price of the same period the previous year, $428,691.

The Vibe

Locals buzz about plans for the former Island Hills Golf Club, at the hamlet’s northern edge. Developers Gregg and Mitchell D. Rechler, who bought the property last year, have been meeting with community groups, hoping to change the single-family zoning to build Greybarn, a multifamily rental community with 1,378 apartments “geared to keep millennials and downsizers close to home,” Gregg Rechler said.

Clustered in three- and four-story buildings, with rooflines and eaves resembling large Hamptons-style summer houses, the property is being designed to “benefit the people who already live in the community, as well as the residents who live in Greybarn,” Mr. Rechler said. A 22-acre “perimeter park around the property that equates to a two-mile walking and bike trail will have various pocket parks as it goes along,” he continued, including a playground, an exercise park and a dog park. Plans also call for a community farm, a pond, multiple swimming pools and a large clubhouse with a fitness center and screening rooms.

A shuttle will take residents from Greybarn to stores and restaurants downtown.

The Schools

There are 2,948 students in the well-regarded Sayville public schools, which draw from Sayville and West Sayville.

Students in kindergarten through grade five attend Cherry Avenue Elementary School, Lincoln Avenue Elementary School or Sunrise Drive Elementary School. Grades six to eight are served by Sayville Middle School. Students move up to Sayville High School for grades nine to 12.

The latest available mean SAT scores were 533 in reading, 564 in math and 521 in writing, compared to New York State scores of 489, 501 and 477.

Some Sayville properties are zoned for the Connetquot Central School District.

The Commute

Commuters to Manhattan, 56 miles west, can catch a train at the Sayville station on the Montauk branch of the Long Island Rail Road. Rush-hour rides to Penn Station take from an hour and 16 minutes to an hour and 40 minutes. Most trips to Manhattan require changing trains in Jamaica or Babylon. The monthly fare is $391.

The History

Once the South Side Railroad reached Sayville in 1868, the hamlet became a summer resort. Actors and actresses stayed in hotels and rented houses in the area. From 1909 to 1919, a seasonal trolley — initially horse-drawn, later electric — connected the railroad station with hotels along Candee Avenue, said George J. Munkenbeck, the Islip town historian.

Correction: October 20, 2017

An earlier version of this article misidentified the branch of the Long Island Railroad on which the Sayville station is found. It is on the Montauk branch, not the Babylon branch.

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