Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Palm Beach Real Estate Roulette

Construction continues at Beaux Arts, financier-attorney Al Malnik’s 3.4-acre oceanfront estate south of Palm Beach. Scaffolding wraps a nuanced 18,000-square-foot addition, described as a children’s play area with an Asian gallery planned for the lower level, being built to the north of the 35,000-square-foot mansion with a facade that appears inspired by the Malnik family’s legendary Miami Beach restaurant, The Forge.
By Augustus Mayhew

While there may still be as many as 1,000 available properties for sale between the inlets with just as many licensed real estate brokers ready to write-up offers, and considering the frequency of multi-million price cuts, Palm Beach’s closing tables have been relatively animated — a Manalapan oceanfront has new owners, an Everglades Island $7.8 million waterfront is under contract with no contingencies, a builder’s own custom house sold, a Midtown house closed at a 35 percent savings from an earlier asking price, a scatter of $1-$5 million pendings in the North End and a dribble of apartments has new nameplates.

However much local authorities snub the notion that PBers need mortgages, the reality is City National Bank has extended Seth Waugh, CEO of Deutsche Bank Americas, a $5 million credit line on his North Palm Beach oceanfront house, purchased in 2002 for $7.2 million. A former PBer who turned-around several island houses, Waugh is only one of more than twenty-five gilded Palm Beach-area property owners taking mortgages in excess of $1 million during the past 90 days.

Here is a look at some end-of-season activity before the hurricane shutters are locked down and the generators are warmed up.

Hedge fund math expert scores Manalapan mansion ...
The recently sold Manalapan house at 1740 South Ocean Boulevard was built after L’Encantada, one of Addison Mizner’s last houses, was removed and sold off, ignobly barged north to Sewell’s Point then floated back south to a Midtown beach before being transplanted onto Seaspray Avenue where after Pirandello-like hearings L’Encantada was judged unworthy of remaining in Palm Beach and was demolished.
Just when you think South Florida real estate is more smoke-and-mirrors than faux fireplaces and impact-resistant glass, a former New York math professor, who helped a hedge fund create “ … a new short-term trading system that enabled the fund to pull in consistently robust returns,” has bought a 21,000-square-foot turnkey Manalapan mansion.

Cobalt Resources LLC sold 1740 South Ocean Boulevard for $12.8 million to Henry Laufer and his wife, Marsha Z. Laufer, residents of Setauket, New York, according to the warranty deed filed May 18th. In 2004, the seller paid RDV Properties $6.4 million for the 1.2-acre estate. Several years earlier, RDV Properties, owned by Amway founder-billionaire Richard DeVos, acquired 1720-1740 South Ocean Boulevard, the historic Gedney property with a Mizner-designed house, L’Encantada. DeVos sold off the Mizner house, subdivided the parcel, keeping the north parcel for himself where he built a 30,000-square-foot house, selling the adjacent property to Cobalt Resources LLC.
At 1740 SOB, the cabana is located directly on the beach across A-1-A from the main house.
Listed by the Corcoran Group’s Jim McCann for $16.9 million, the eight-bedroom multi-level house, located south of Chillingworth Curve on the west side of A-1-A with Intracoastal Waterway dockage, featured water views from every room and a cabana situated on 150 ft. of ocean front. Interior design and furnishings were by Marc Michaels.

The buyers, Henry Laufer, Ph.D., a math professor specializing in complex variables and algebraic topology before joining Renaissance Technologies hedge fund in 1992, and his wife, Marsha Z. Laufer, Ph.D., also a former Stony Brook faculty member, recently announced a $10 million dollar gift to Stony Brook University’s capital campaign.
David and Connie Blue's new 7,000-square-foot house at 150 Canterbury Lane was described as Colonial in style during the ARCOM approval hearing.
The seller, Cobalt Resources LLC, is a former Wyoming-based company managed by Palm Beach resident David Blue, a Kentucky scrap metal-and-shredding scion who reportedly during the late 1990s sold the family’s Louisville company founded by his grandfather, David Blusinsky. Since then, Mr. Blue has bought-and-sold various South Florida properties. In 2007, David and Connie Blue, along with their Boca Raton neighbors, Walter and Marilyn Wolpin, paid $9 million for a Canterbury Lane property in Midtown Palm Beach, demolishing the 1959 house designed by Gus Maass, and then, dividing the property between them. The Wolpins, owners of the Michigan-based Wolpin Company, retained architect Patrick Segraves, principal at SKA Architect, to design their 6,300-square-foot Mediterranean-style house next door to Mr. and Mrs. Blue, who also commissioned Segraves for their house.
Walter and Marilyn Wolpin's Mediterranean-style house at 170 Canterbury was designed by Patrick Segraves.
PB builder sells custom North End house ...
Built by one of PB's high-end builders with an interior credited to designer Marjorie Shushan, the five-bedroom 6,000-square-foot North End house was the subject of an AD feature.
James and Eleanor Woolems sold their North End house at 259 Merrain Road for $4.58 million to Joseph and Michelle Jacobs, according to the warranty deed filed May 19th. Although less than their reported $6.25 million asking price, the Woolems stated in a recent interview they wanted to spend more time at their Hobe Sound house; that is, after stopping off at the bank. When first approved in 1999, the house was described as British Colonial by architect Tom Kirchoff, according to the ARCOM minutes. Mr. Woolems heads Woolems Construction, one of the island’s premier builders; Mrs. Woolems is an associate at Sotheby’s. The Woolems have done several PB buy-and-sells and still own a house on Emerald Lane.

A North End house changes owners ...
A multi-level corner house, 301 Via Linda was built in 1958.
Listed last year at $4.75 million before being reduced to $3.9 million, Michael and Paula Schulhof closed on their 301 Via Linda house to Roger and Georgeann Ballou for $3.35 million, according to recent court records. The buyers financed the purchase with a $1.49 million mortgage with Bank of America and a $500K line of credit with the same lender. In 2002, the Schulhofs paid $1.6 million for the house, built in 1958 with nearly 4,000-square-feet of living area. Mr. Schulhof is a former CEO of Sony and chairman of the GTI Group, a private investment firm, who bought 1075 North Ocean Blvd. in 2007 for $23 million. Based in Philadelphia, the buyer, Mr. Ballou, is CEO of CDI, a technology outsourcing company. Previously, the Ballous purchased a two-bedroom Waterview Towers unit for $700,000.

Madison Avenue investment advisor picks up WPB penthouse ...

Jorge M. Perez, CEO and chairman of The Related Company, has sold his penthouse at The Slade condominium located along West Palm Beach's North Flagler Drive for $1.35 million to Howard Sontag, as Trustee of the RH Trust. Mr. Sontag is a Manhattan investment advisor, principal of Sontag Advisors Inc. Just one of Mr. Perez’s many-many properties, he bought PH1 and PH18 for $1.135 million in 2006, according to court documents. Though Mr. Perez’s unit is incomparable and I could find no other property recently sold in his company's building at this level of profit, there have been foreclosures at The Slade, despite its imported Brazilian lobby couches, a concierge desk built with hand-painted glass panels, a fireplace from London, carpets from India and a 500-pound Daniel Fiorda sculpture placed at the entrance. In August 2008, Jonathan Cameron-Hayes paid $125,000 for a 760-square-foot one-bedroom penthouse.

Carroll Petrie acquires intown condo ...

A former Undersecretary in the Regan-era Treasury Department, George Gould, and his wife, Darcy Gould, sold their Midtown Casa de Carlos condo, Unit 9, to Carroll Petrie for $1.15 million, according to the deed filed May 14th. The Goulds sold the two-bedroom 1,500-square-foot unit for $300,000 less than what they paid in 2006. Last year the Goulds added 401 Brazilian to their portfolio for $5.1 million, a property that has enjoyed four different owners since 2003. Mr. Gould was recently named a director of the Palm Beach Civic Association. In May 2008, the buyer, Mrs. Petrie, as well known on Fifth Avenue as Worth Avenue, paid $7.45 million for 109 Jungle Road, her principal Florida residence and, at one time, Sonny and Marylou Whitney's house.

Testa's proposed makeover enhances Royal Poinciana Way's commercial development ...
This nostalgic sign may be all that remains of the old Testa's, a PB institution for more than eighty years, if the family's plan for redevelopment is approved. The restaurateur wants to demolish an adjacent gas station, renovate the restaurant and transform their property into a four-story complex containing shops, 39 condos and a parking garage. Last week the Town Council approved funds for a consultant to draft zoning incentives permitting additional building space for owners who implement the prescribed design guidelines, including wider sidewalks, more landscaping, underground parking and Mediterranean-style architectural features.
Wrecking ball awaits classic mid-century modern waterfront house ...
Despite its distinctive S-shaped wall and aerodynamic contours, 123 Via Fontana was unanimously approved for demolition at the May ARCOM meeting. Built in 1956, the 6,000-square foot four-bedroom house was designed by architect Byron Simonson.
A last look at 123 Via Fontana's remarkable style, as ARCOM made an appointment for the house with the Cushing Demolition trucks. Sotheby’s is offering the ¾ acre lakefront parcel with 130 ft. frontage for $7.7 million.
Palm Beach Modern

When the Palm Beach Town Council voted not to landmark architect Richard Meier's late 1970's house at 958 North Lake Way, it reaffirmed the town's indifference to Mid-century Modernism, much of it discounted and demolished during the past several decades in favor of being supplanted with corpulent spec houses and their more contextual hybrid pattern-book facades. Along with several other lakefront Modernist houses is a 1930's Streamline Moderne landmark designed by Belford Shoumate at 1221 North Lake Way. Known as Fore N' Aft, here are some views, a reminder of when Palm Beach was an imaginative progressive resort.
Photographs by Augustus Mayhew.

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