Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Palm Beach Real Estate Roulette

Gucci Building & Courtyard, 256 Worth Avenue. A Worth Avenue makeover is in the works. Coming soon, if street smart planners have their way, cocoanut trees, angled parking along the street's north side ala 1946 and, prepare yourself for 2010, pedestrian-friendly elements encouraging people to "linger" on the avenue. The Worth Avenue Restoration Association is heading up the project.
by Augustus Mayhew

In between lightning strikes, hail storms and off-price sales, the Palm Beach summer of 2009 is emerging as perfect for orchid blooms as real estate deals. Yes, condo canyons have become rental rows from Ocean Boulevard to Brickell Avenue and mainland houses, a quicksand of foreclosures and short sales. Nonetheless, some PBers are pocketing cash at the closing tables. On Palm Beach, the $10-$72 million mansion market remains at a standstill, but adding to the buzz, a $22.25 million oceanfront sale in North Palm Beach. July 15 is probably already circled on your calendars, the upcoming first anniversary of the historic $95 million sale of 515 North County Road by Trump Properties to County Road Property LLC, reportedly Dmitry Rybolovlev, the Caspian fertilizer czar. A celebration certain to become as much a tradition as Festivus.

Dmitry Rybolovlev. Photo: Yevgeny Zapiskin/Kommersant.
In what appears to be another island rarity, a foreclosure flip in the North End. A Cayman Island company, Victoria Waterfall REO LLC, sold 1431 N. Ocean Way two months after picking it up at the court house. In late April 2009, the company, which has bought-and-sold several recent foreclosures, acquired the three-bedroom house for $900,000. Last week, Douglas and Leah Beck, of Newtown, Pennsylvania, closed on the cul-de-sac property for $1.5 million.

Who says, PBers aren't a fast crowd? National chain franchisor Howard Martin Sprock III sold 206 Seabreeze for $1.875 million to Liza Becker Risin of Rumson, N.J., who, along with her husband, Michael Risin, financed the purchase with a $1.4 million mortgage from Lydian Bank, according to records filed June 12. The seller, best known as the founder of Moe's Southwest Grill, Mama Fu's Noodle House, Planet Smoothie and Monkey Joe's, bought the Seabreeze property in 2003 for $1.3 million. In early 2007, the Moe's Southwest Grill franchises were sold to Focus Brands for a reported $100 million. The following year, Mr. Sprock III acquired 211 Jungle Road for $7.25 million, financed by a $5 million mortgage from Bank of America.

And then, this blind item, in what must be some form of sophisticated estate planning, a PBer has taken a $10 million reverse mortgage on one of the town's significant architectural piles. The first I'd seen at this level. Meanwhile, here is where the latest $50 million was stashed during the past two weeks on-and-around the barrier island.
Superyacht marina owner anchors at Stone Creek ...
Stone Creek Ranch, "South Florida's grandest estate home community," according to the developer. No real creeks and no ranches, but hey, there are sprawling mega-mansions with "beautiful vistas." Convenient to nearby wholesale plant nurseries, the gated enclave is located on the edge of the Everglades.
NYC-Greenwich hedge fund wizard and art connoisseur, Steven A. Cohen, has new billionaire neighbors at Stone Creek Ranch, a 185-acre development west of west Delray Beach. In 2005 Mr. Cohen paid $8.5 million for "Mariposa," a 13,800-square-foot mansion hideaway with a 5-car garage, 8 bedrooms + 11 bathrooms, a 75-foot Infinity pool, gentleman's club room, rotunda staircase and a home theater with show curtain. The latest rancheros are H. Wayne Huizenga, Jr., and his wife, Fonda Huizenga, who paid $6.125 million for a 10,000-square-foot lakefront house on five acres, according to recent court records.

The sale was financed with a $6.158 million mortgage by Royal Palm Mortgage Group, an affiliate of Huizenga Holdings. Mr. Huizenga, Jr. is president of Huizenga Holdings, launched by his father, H. Wayne, Sr., who began the family's empire with one garbage truck, and after hauling a trillion tons of trash, today operates the nation's largest waste disposal company, Waste Management. In addition, Sr. built, ran or sold other conglomerates, Blockbuster Video and AutoNation, among them.
Wayne Huizenga, Jr. remade Rybovich Marina into a superyacht center located across from the inlet at Palm Beach's North End. Wayne Sr.'s yacht has the helipad.
In 2005, Wayne Jr. bought Rybovich Marina, located directly across from Palm Beach's North End. And with his DNA Midas touch, helped along by an $83 million mortgage issued by Bank of America, he transformed the Rybovich docks and warehouses into one of the world's largest megayacht centers, accommodating vessels up to 300 feet. Joining the Cohens and Huizengas at Stone Creek homeowner meetings is software wunderkind Daniel Gittleman, who several years ago paid $11.1 million to live at Stone Creek. You may recall, Mr. Gittleman's statue was installed in South Florida's buy high-sell low pantheon when after paying $27.5 million for 1370 South Ocean Boulevard in 2000, the oceanfront Manalapan estate of National Enquirer founder Generoso Pope, four years later, he sold it for $19 million, according to court records.

So hurry! These opportunities may not last. Looks like only maybe 25 of Stone Creek's original 37 lots remain, with the 11,000-square-foot Sedona model available for turnkey occupancy at $6.9 million.
A house at Stone Creek Ranch, as seen from the sale's office.

North Palm Beach oceanfront sells for $22.25 million ...
This oceanfront house along with two adjacent lots to the north were purchased last week by Sea Way Acres LLC in two separate transactions.
With a crush of listed sellers willing to sell for less, a North Palm Beach couple whose oceanfront property was never on the market have sold it for an exceptional price. In two separate transactions within one week, a Delaware company with a Connecticut address, Sea Acres Way LLC, spent $22.25 million for 3.7 oceanfront acres with a 5,000-square-foot house in North Palm Beach's exclusive Seminole Landing enclave, located between the Seminole Golf Club and the Lost Tree Club. Sea Acres Way LLC’s combined purchase is believed to be the area’s largest recorded residential sale since George and Frayda Lindemann paid $23.5 million for 1565 North Ocean Way on Palm Beach in September 2008.

Frayda and George Lindemann.
One of the sellers, Lake and Susan Lytal, were not on the market at the time of the sale. "When the buyer's agent called, we told him to make us an offer we could not refuse," said Mr. Lytal, who signed a proviso not to divulge the buyer's name. "It all happened quickly. We took $12.25 million." The two vacant lots to the north of the Lytals, owned by the Seminole Beach Land Trust, sold for $10 million.

"Who else, the Ziffs, of course," said a local real estate insider; as did another island observer, when asked about the sale. A Ziff family spokesperson in New York would not comment or confirm the sale. The sellers were bound by non-disclosure agreements with the buyer. Yet, although the Ziffs are only the rumored buyers, the buyer, Sea Acres Way, and Ziff Brothers Investments coincidentally share the same address, 300 First Stamford Place in Stamford, Conn. The buyer's office address on both warranty deeds, 300 First Stamford Place in Stamford matches the same office building address as that of Ziff Brothers Investments, according to a current tenant list provided by W&M Properties, the office building's managing agent. In 2005, Ziff Brothers Investments LLC leased 9,030 square feet of space for 10 years at 300 First Stamford Place.

The Ziff family's 9.25-acre Manalapan compound is set on more than 1,000 feet of ocean frontage. Located at 2000 South Ocean Boulevard, the estate was first known as Gemini, designed by architect Marion Sims Wyeth and once the residence of Loel and Gloria Guinness and the Lambert pharmaceutical family. With a family trust said to be worth more than $10 billion, according to Forbes magazine, the Ziff brothers, Daniel, Dirk and Robert Ziff, are the sons of the late William B. Ziff Jr., scion of the Ziff media empire. In 1984, William Ziff sold his consumer and business magazines for more than $700 million. A decade later, he sold his entire publishing group to Forstmann Little & Co. for almost $1.5 billion.

Recent transactions of note ...
Thomas Suffern Tailer Gimbel sold 250 El Dorado Lane for $1.5 million to Sheila Fruehoff. A Glen Cove resident and a director of the Bernard and Alva Gimbel Foundation, Mr. Gimbel bought the North End house in 2002 for $1.2 million.
Michael J. and Patricia Jackson have sold their Dutch Colonial-style house overlooking the Palm Beach Country Club at 208 Bahama Lane to Nigel Hart for $3 million. The Jacksons bought the four-bedroom two-story house in 2001 for $2.445 million.
Robert and Anne Van Gieson sold their five-bedroom house at 257 Tradewind Drive to Stanley and Kay Graber for $2.8 million. The Van Giesons sold for $25,000 more than what they paid for the property in 2005. It appears the new owners are in the midst of a redo.
Ruth A. Summers sold her Spanish-style house at 163 Seabreeze Avenue for $2.55 million to Susan J. Mitchell of Basking Ridge, New Jersey. Ms. Summers bought the Midtown ocean block two-unit property in July 2007 for $2.6 million.
James Abraham sold 310 Eden Road for $3.95 million to Bucephalos LLC, a Wyoming company. Mr. Abraham bought the 4800-sq.-ft. multi-level house in June 2004 for $2.7 million.
Condominiums and townhouses on the move

In what appears to be today's upside-down math, David and Gloria Ross, by way of a Tortola, BVI, registered company, South Ocean Realty Ltd., have purchased Apt. S-401 at 2770 South Ocean Boulevard for $1.7 million from Seymore L. Ziv. Mr. Ziv bought the unit for $3.1 million in March 2007 with a $3.65 million mortgage from Lydian Bank, according to the court records. For many years, Mr. Ziv, and his late wife, Gladys, lived in the Alba Suite at the Biltmore. Daniel Drennen sold his 328 Chilean condo, unit 328A-B, for $2 million to Terrie A Davis. Mr. Drennen bought in October 2006 for $1.5 million. Lois and Henry Foster sold her four-bedroom townhouse at 6 Sloan's Curve Drive for $3.05 million to Jennifer Brodlieb and Amanda Gales. The buyers, Brodlieb and Gales, are Toronto residents who financed the transaction with a private interest-free $3.6 million mortgage. Joseph and Diana Day sold a Midtown townhouse at 425 Brazilian for $2.45 million to Albert and Linda Rosecan of McLean, Virginia. The Days bought the 3,300-square-foot unit in 2000 for $1.35 million.

Palm Beach post office for sale ...
The historic Palm Beach Post Office building is for sale. Here is your chance to negotiate with the US government. The 1936 North County Road landmark with 10,000-square-feet of space and parking aplenty on a half-acre is available for its reported appraisal value of $5 million. The Town Council and Preservation Foundation passed on it.

Approachable Palm Beach ...
Palm Beach's cordial style found on Tarpon Way.
Photographs by Augustus Mayhew.

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