It’s not easy to sell a castle in today’s economy, but that’s just what Susan Phemister is hoping to do.
She and her husband Manfred own the Amsterdam Castle bed and breakfast, which forms a prominent part of the city’s South Side landscape.
They bought the old National Guard Armory in 2005, a few years after it was decommissioned by the state. “I sold a three-bedroom home in Brooklyn,” she said, “and had enough to buy this place and renovate it.”
Now, after two years of massive home improvement projects and a few more of running a successful bed and breakfast, the castle is up for sale.
Phemister strolled through the echoing halls Thursday, pointing out her favorite rooms.
“It’s turn-key,” she said. “It’s fully restored. It’s done.”
There’s a cavernous 10,000-square-foot gym, a private wing for the Phemister family and two separate guest wings that make up the B&B end of things.
The castle is 36,000 square feet, which is nearly one full acre of painstakingly and tastefully restored hardwood flooring.
Standing under the 13-foot ceilings of the Westlake Wing, Phemister listed a handful of their recent accolades, including the Chamber of Commerce Tourism Award and No. 1 B&B as decided by Capital Region Living Magazine.
The New York State Preservation League even handed down its Excellence in Historic Preservation Award this year for the Phemisters’ effort to revitalize the 1894 building.
But despite all of the beauty and recognition, Phemister is anxious to get the place sold.
“I’m a motivated but fair seller,” she said.
At the end of a tour, it’s easy to see why.
In the basement, right next to the indoor shooting range and private vault left over from the armory days, there’s a room-sized leviathan of a boiler.
The boiler heats Phemister’s acre of 13-foot ceilings, and in return, she feeds it $16,000 a year.
But that’s not why Phemister wants to sell. She wasn’t exaggerating when she said the place was done: Everything is perfect.
“I’m ready for my next project,” she said. “Maybe a church.”
She works in Manhattan as the vice president of planning for Thomson Reuters.
“I finish projects for a living,” she said. “It’s my passion.”
But it’s hard to sell a such a large property.
The castle was briefly on the market a few years ago with an asking price of $2.5 million and “I didn’t get anywhere,” she said.
This time around, they’re asking for half of that, $1.25 million.
For that price, the buyer will get everything — all of the furniture, decorations, even the sheets on the king-sized four-post beds and the bison head on the wall.
“We’ll just pack our clothes and leave,” she said.
So far, there has been some interest from Californians, but no offers.
The buyer will have to be what Phemister calls a “unique individual.”
Most millionaires, the type that usually buy castles, tend to want one with acreage.
The Amsterdam Castle is surrounded by houses, so it will have to be bought by someone who wants both 36,000 square feet and the ability to walk down to the street in a bathrobe and say hello to neighbors while getting the paper in the morning.
For more information on the Amsterdam Castle, its history and room rentals, visit www.amsterdamcastle.com.
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