If your dream has been to buy 86-acre Hope Island in Casco Bay, alas, it’s slipped through your fingers again for the second time in nearly three decades.

The island, part of the town of Chebeague Island, sold last month for $7 million to Ed Mylett, a California-based entrepreneur and motivational speaker who can presumably use the island retreat to get away from the 2.2 million people who follow him on Instagram.

Once considered as a site for a liquified natural gas terminal, Hope Island was bought by New York real estate developer John Cacoulidis in 1993 for $1.3 million. He and his wife, Phyllis, spent the next 23 years developing it into a massive family retreat with an 11,600-square-foot main house, a six-bedroom guest house, a tavern, a chapel, a boathouse, a barn with staff apartments and three birdhouses for geese, swans, ducks, chickens, peacocks, guinea hens and turkeys.

Nature provided nine ponds, rocky and sandy beaches and some wild deer on the island.

An aerial view of Hope Island Photo by Peter G. Morneau

Phyllis Cacoulidis was apparently the main impetus behind all the domesticated animals on the island. In addition to the birds, she also had horses, a mule and at least five dogs – and took in rescue animals.

Although the two lived relatively quietly on the island, John Cacoulidis had a developer’s touch for bold, attention-grabbing ideas. In 2001, he said he wanted to build twin 41-story towers at the northeastern tip of South Portland, not far from Bug Light. He said the towers would house 2,600 hotel rooms and he suggested that they be connected to Portland, across the harbor, via a cable car.

But the plans failed to gain traction and the family sold the 30-acre parcel in late 2018, about four months after Cacoulidis died.

Cacoulidis also tried to secede from Chebeague in 2001, upset over paying tens of thousands of dollars in local property taxes while getting few, if any, services from the town.

But the effort failed and, in another dispute with the town in 2013, the family agreed to pay $100,000 to resolve violations of shoreline protection rules that occurred during some of the construction on the island.

John Cacoulidis put Hope Island on the market for $7.95 million in 2017, a year after his wife died, saying he and his family weren’t using the island as much as they had in the past, but it remained unsold, and after John Cacoulidis’s death in July 2018, George Cacoulidis said the family, which owns the island through a trust, decided to take the island off the market.

One of the barns on Hope Island Photo by Peter G. Morneau

He said the family considered Hope Island a “testament” to his parents and they wanted to hang on to it, but the family found little time for the island in the last few years, leading to the decision to put it back on the market in June.

“The decision to sell was difficult and bittersweet,” George Cacoulidis said last week, but “my family members were simply not using the property. Our actual time we spent on the island just didn’t warrant our continued ownership.”

Cacoulidis said he had to balance the cost of maintaining the island and its structures, the need to invest money “in a manner more beneficial for the family” and the “heritage and emotions” the island represented, ultimately deciding to part with the island.

Jasmin Moulton, the broker who handled the sale for Legacy Properties Sotheby’s International Realty, said the island attracted a lot of attention, but the Cacouldis family turned away those looking to develop the island, either as a resort or to subdivide the property into upscale house lots.

“At the end of the day, the goal was to find someone who would be a good steward of the island,” she said, and Mylett said he planned to maintain it as a family compound.

Attempts to reach Mylett were unsuccessful, but Cacoulidis said he indicated that he plans to keep the property for family, not commercial, use.

“Selling to a family who intends to maintain the property as a family compound according to their own unique vision, as opposed to a developer, was very appealing and I sincerely wish them success and happiness,” he said. “I want them to thrive and create their own heritage.”


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