If international politics was ever going to touch Nassau County, you could have guessed it would involve expensive real estate.
And so it does.
The waning Obama administration closed a 14-acre Upper Brookville property owned by the Russian government since the Soviet days.
Brokers must be salivating. This so-called “recreational compound” includes a two-story mansion with 36 rooms built in 1918, a soccer field, tennis court, in-ground pool and who knows what else. Nassau County lists the estate’s market value as $9.35 million.
Given the context — President Barack Obama’s parting shot at foreign cyberspying — one can only guess the place has premium Wi-Fi as well as top-notch cellphone access.
What’s more, there’s historic interest. Its past as the residence of Nathan L. Miller, who served as New York’s governor between 1921 and 1922, was widely noted in news reports.
When the Communist regime purchased the spread in 1952, the Soviets already had a mansion in Glen Cove, known as Killenworth.
“Reds Buy Second Little Kremlin on LI,” Newsday’s headline blared.
Federal agents were said to keep watch on the Old Brookville estate from across the road well after the Soviet Union dissolved. Russian compounds like this, and the one in Glen Cove, were alleged to have doubled as recreational facilities and bases for spies.
Vehicles with diplomatic plates and visiting federal officials had barely pulled out of the property’s driveway over the New Year’s weekend when a local operator of banquet halls let his interest in buying the place be known.
Caterer Butch Yamali made news in 2013 when he complained about the menu at an official presidential inauguration luncheon for Obama. His gripe: The inaugural committee chose to serve bison from South Dakota rather than duck, which is Long Island’s famous delicacy.
Now, Yamali publicly proposes buying the shuttered Russian property, saying he has 15 investors lined up.
But is it even for sale? Under incoming President Donald Trump, who has an open affinity for Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Russians may very well expect to take back the gated compound.
After all, both real estate and Russians are an exciting combination for Trump.
Asked in July about his business links in the former Eastern Bloc, Trump shifted to a more comfortable subject, boasting: “I bought a house a number of years ago in Palm Beach, Florida, . . . for $40 million and I sold it to a Russian for $100 million, including brokerage commissions.”
If the Russians are into house-flipping, there may be a Trump University-style lesson for them there.