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Sylvia Kumar wants to split Upper Brookville estate

To lure buyers to her 1915 Gold Coast villa, the wife of imprisoned, former Computer Associates chief Sanjay Kumar wants Upper Brookville Village to let her subdivide the 24-acre estate called La Selva, her representative says.

Sylvia Kumar's map filed with the planning board breaks the estate into four pieces, altering the summer retreat built for investor Henry Sanderson and landscaped by the Olmstead Brothers, whose father developed Central Park. In an area where residential property is zoned for five acres, the estate would end up as parcels sized 5.7 acres to 6.6 acres, with the largest encompassing the 40-room, Italian Renaissance-style villa.

Four sales could still give Kumar her price for the entire estate, $12.5 million, down from $17 million when it was first listed in 2007, said Anthony Bellissimo, Kumar's accountant and a partner at BSB Associates in Hauppauge.

"It would reduce the price for the individual buyer," he said. "The complaint is that it's a big nut. There's utilities and maintenance."

Three buyers have pending offers, either for the entire property or proposed subdivisions, Bellissimo said.

When Sylvia Kumar paid $6.75 million in 2001 for what was the St. Francis Retreat House, the couple was not going to live there but make the many repairs so charities could hold weekend fundraisers, Bellissimo said.

The estate was listed after Sanjay Kumar pleaded guilty in April 2006 to securities fraud and was ordered to pay $798 million in restitution. He paid the first $52 million by December 2007, ahead of schedule, court files show, and his post-prison wages will be attached at 20 percent after his 2018 release.

"It's a shame to see a large property broken up," village Mayor Terry Thielen said. "It's a way of life that no longer exists. . . . But on the other hand, a resident who has a property is not bound to maintain something if it creates a financial hardship with them."

Subdividing would put Kumar out of compliance with zoning laws so she will have to ask for zoning board variances, village attorney Peter M. Weiler said. For example, a cottage on the grounds is 15 feet from the road instead of the required 75 feet, he said.

"It's not an unusual thing when these old estates are being broken up," Weiler said.

Bellissimo said Kumar also is complying with village officials' other requests, including natural buffers between parcels: "We really don't want to lose the character of the property. . . . They want to keep the beauty of Upper Brookville, and we're all for that."


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