Grand Lake’s Brown Island will be up for bids, Oct. 30
by Peter Jakey–Managing Editor
There are many reasons to own a private island, according to the Web site Gods Own Island. There are 101 to be exact.
Your dog will never run away or get hit by a vehicle. It’s a great place to quit smoking, because there is nowhere to purchase that next pack.
Or, a private island would be a great gift for the person who already has everything.
Elite celebrities also own them, such as Johnny Depp, Mel Gibson and Leonardo DiCaprio, to name just a few.
Except for the financial part, owning a private island and joining the elites of the world is not as difficult as it would seem.
Look no further than Grand Lake, the seven-mile body of water that borders Presque Isle and Krakow townships. There’s an island available that hits the auction block, Oct. 30 at 8 a.m. It is Grand Lake’s second-largest island, Brown Island, with a mile of shoreline.
It’s owned by Steve and the Rev. Renee Perkins, who have owned it since the mid 1990s and developed the 48-property into the Grand Lake Christian Retreat center from 2001 to 2016.
“I was up visiting my parents, who retired in Presque Isle,” said Steve. “They saw an ad in the paper about Brown Island being for sale. That’s how I found out about it. We looked at it in the summer and then walked it in the fall with a real estate agent and thought, it would be neat to own an island.”
There is a 3,000-square-foot lodge that built by the Perkins, wildlife, and lots of peace and quiet. The only real neighbors are those traveling by on watercraft.
“It became too much,” said Steve of operating the retreat. “There were personal issues where we were not able to get up there and operate the camp like we use to. So, it became time to sell. It was certainly wonderful while we operated it.”
Handling the selling part of the process is Leist Auctioneers and LASTBIDrealestate.com.
“It’s been a learning experience,” said Wade Leist associate auctioneer, who has never been involved in the auction of a private island.
Leist said it is apiece of land that will receive of lot of interest.
“It will take a special buyer to be prepared to buy it and maintain it,” said Leist. “It’s proving easy to get people interested, but we expected going in that it would be challenging from the fact that we have to find someone with the ability and the desire to own one, not just think about.”
The retreat would host 25 to 35 campers at a time.
Typically, a church would bring its entire youth group for five days. “Each year, my wife and I would write the curriculum,” said Steve.
Campers would board a boat docked along the east side of Grand Lake. The sale includes 50 foot of waterfront access on the mainland.
“The camp would focus on community building, team building and leadership skills,” said Steve. We had anywhere from junior high to college kids. We also did men’s and women’s retreats out there.” To make it affordable, considering the staff that had to be hired, they ran about eight sessions a year.
“We did not run a lot of numbers through there, but the people that came, certainly were deeply impacted by the experience,” he said.
The couple, who have been married for 35 years, have three sons who live in different parts of the country.
“None of them live close enough to operate it,” said Steve. “They all had a hand in helping us when they were in high school.”
Only one acre was developed. It’s where the lodge is, with a commercial grade kitchen and quite possibly the best septic and drain field in the entire county. Even the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality was impressed with the project and how the Perkins handled the development of the island.
“We wanted to have as little impact on the environment as possible,” Steve said. “We took great pain. I am an outdoor person and a conservationist.”
There are small trails that run the circumference and across that the deer love, but not wide enough for snowmobiles.
It’s a slice of heaven in the middle of Grand Lake.
“You hear the wind through the trees and a deer or two might come by,” said Steve. “It’s like you are in your own oasis from the world.”
The starting bid for this oasis is $250,000.
Leist has done some research, but could not find an island that was auctioned. How much could a 48-acre island go for? “I don’t have an answer,” said Leist. “I think the real answer is, we are going to find out.”
For more information go to LeistAuctioneers and click on upcoming auctions and then scroll down to Oct. 30. There are more photos and a video available.