Thursday, September 8, 2011

Palm Beach and Miami Social Diary

Longtime Palm Beach residents Joe and Nancy Dryer have placed their 80 Middle Road Wyeth-designed casa grande for sale with Lawrence A. Moens priced at $7.25 million. Known to some as Palm Beach’s “First Family,” the Dryers moved to their house, known once as Casa Juanito, during the early 1960s. When Joe and Nancy hosted a red-white-blue afternoon cookout this past Fourth of July, I could not help but notice that it is still one of the few remaining Palm Beach originals, as if you are stepping back into 1925 with many details and fixtures from Mizner Industries, and at the same time offers limitless opportunity for someone to come along and “modernize” it.
South Florida Sandcastles: Palm Beach & South Beach
By Augustus Mayhew

While waiting for $60 parking fines and Publix to reopen, making the rounds in Palm Beach these scorching August days is the story that one buyer has made numerous substantial residential purchases through different LLCs. After hearing the same story from various Palm Beach brokers I apply what I call the Palm Beach three-time rule: No matter how many times I hear the same story repeated, it adds nothing to its credibility.

The same name of the buyer has also been mentioned from various sources. Even if one buyer had picked up five to ten high-end properties effectively propping up low-end prices, perhaps kick-starting a new buying frenzy once the season is underway, it does not compare, let’s say, to the Honolulu buyer who many years ago snapped up, what was it somewhere around 100 properties and skewed the market for a decade.

A portion of Island Drive on Everglades Island. John B. Haggin’s $15.9 million property at 757 Island Drive is pictured at bottom left. (Via Google Maps).
After all, it is Palm Beach, how could it ever make any difference in a place where money never matters but it’s the only thing that counts.

Nonetheless, here are some of the mega-billion-dollar sandbar’s latest transactions, according to court records as best as I can decipher them, even though The Wharton School has yet to offer an MBA course in Appreciating Palm Beach Real Estate. I just noticed Realtor Linda A. Gary has posted a Contract Pending notice for John B. Haggin’s $15.9 million Intracoastal Waterway point property with 380 feet of waterfront at 757 Island Drive on Everglades Island, a location I have always thought of as priceless.

Several months ago, Mr. Haggin purchased a waterfront Sea Ranch Lakes property for $3.75 million in the Ft. Lauderdale-Pompano Beach area. Previously, the Everglades Island property was owned by Haggin’s parents Naoma and John Haggin.

Then, in between thunderstorms a cook’s tour around Palm Beach before a jaunt to Miami where NYC’s Sikh-chic hotelier Vikram Chatwal is “thrilled” to be in South Beach, having opened yet another Dream Hotel, what else. At the Dream SoBe, NYC’s celebrated chef Geoffrey Zakarian has launched the Tudor House restaurant, making for his Collins Avenue comeback since his opening of The Blue Door at The Delano in 1995. And then, because I still had an appetite after leaving the Tudor House, I stopped in at Crumb on Parchment, uber-chef Michelle Bernstein’s latest more casual venture in Miami’s Design District.
Getting hammered takes on a whole different meaning during Palm Beach’s summer months as streets accustomed to Porsches and Maseratis are instead thoroughfares for concrete trucks and construction cranes. Despite the economy’s ongoing uncertainty, this once enchanted island’s mise en scene is still distinguished by tear downs, renovations, new-builds, and omnipresent spec houses. Above, the intense activity at 930 South Ocean Boulevard has been non-stop since May when the Miami-based 1111 Partners LLC, Richard Wackenhut as principal, paid $11.5 million for the Fatio-designed landmark.
Palm Beach Real Estate Roulette
Palm Beach real estate is moving again, just not always in an upward direction. Above, a New jersey-based White Glove Moving truck makes a delivery to a recently-sold North End house.
Lydian Private Bank fails; Miami-based Sabadell United Bank N.A. takes over Palm Beach “piggy bank”

Apparently, the Lydian Private Bank never had to worry about anyone breaking into their safe.

Just when you thought a late Friday afternoon bank closing was only a page of history from the 1930s, Palm Beach’s Lydian Private Bank (“… private in name only, not really a private bank,” stated one report) went under on Friday, August 19. Lydian Private Bank was closed by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency; the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was named Receiver. Serendipitously, a takeover by the Miami-based Sabadell United Bank N. A. was already a done deal; the bank will open Monday with “business as usual,” said an FDIC spokesperson. The 10th FDIC-insured bank to fail this year in Florida, the FDIC has estimated the cost to the FDIC’s Insurance Fund will be $293.2 million, according to the FDIC’s press release.
The Lydian Bank & Trust Building at 180 Royal Palm Way dwarfs surrounding buildings, its impressive colossal façade perhaps put customers at ease.
Organized during the bubbly dotcom era in 2000 as an entity named Virtual Bank in Palm Beach Gardens, the institution moved to Palm Beach in 2002, changing its name to the more substantive, if not credible, Lydian Private Bank. According to court records, several prominent Palm Beachers received mortgage loans during the past ninety days in amounts ranging from $250,000 to more than $1 million. Among its numerous court-recorded transactions involving Palm Beach residents, mortgages, modifications, agreements, extensions, and the like, Lydian had extended a $12 million Line of Credit Promissory Note in June 2009 to the Bath & Tennis Club.

Former Lydian Bank CEO Rory Brown has reportedly left the state, believed to be living out-of-state, having placed his Hidden Key North Palm Beach waterfront estate purchased in 2007 for $5 million on the market for $5 million. Currently, Brown’s 11976 Lake Shore Place residence does have homestead exemption protection, according to the property appraiser’s web site.
Unlike the Lydian Private Bank, Bessemer Trust is an actual private bank providing selective wealth-management services, located within the Henry Phipps Building at 222 Royal Palm Way. Founded in 1903 by T. Coleman duPont, Wilmington Trust is a full-service bank located at 240 Royal Palm Way, offering retail and commercial services as well as a wealth-advisory management firm.
Right-Wing Palm Beach
A recent New York Times feature describing Palm Beach as “A Conservative Beachhead in the Sunshine” hit on some of the town’s red-state personalities but it either looked the other way or completely missed some of the area’s major players. Nancy DeMoss commands a myriad of evangelical political causes from her South End Woodbridge Road waterfront mansion and the Flagler Drive foundation offices of her late husband’s Arthur DeMoss Foundation.

Perhaps best known for the legendary “Just Say No” abstinence campaign television ads, the DeMoss Foundation is among the largest donors to the Campus Crusade for Christ and  Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, now under the spiritual guidance of Jerry Falwell Jr. DeMoss Hall is LU’s main academic building. A former close associate of Rev. Falwell’s, Mrs. DeMoss’ son Mark DeMoss heads up the DeMoss Group, representing the nation’s largest “faith-based causes.”

Ann Coulter and Matt Drudge.
And if the local property appraiser’s records are correct, author and talk-show guest Ann Coulter still claims homestead exemption on her Seaspray Avenue Mission-style house in Midtown Palm Beach that she bought in 2005 for $1.8 million. Miami-Dade court records do show Matt Drudge as an owner of a condominium apartment but no available records indicate that Ann Coulter owned an apartment under her name in Dade County (perhaps she rented an apartment before she bought her Palm Beach property.) Court records indicate that last month Mr. Drudge purchased a five-acre gated estate described as an “exotic Redlands mansion” in Southwest Miami that was priced at $1.5 million.

David Koch,
whose checkbook has been the subject of several national stories related to the Tea Party, was somehow overlooked by The Times. Dick Morris was mentioned as being in the Delray area but the presence of  Pat Buchanan and Michael Savage was not mentioned.

Most surprising, not a word about the notable pundit and foreign affairs expert Arnaud deBorchgrave ensconced on Worth Avenue at the Winthrop House condominium. Certainly, there was a good reason that former late CIA director William Casey and Gen. Alexander Haig chose to live in Palm Beach but however much Palm Beach is most often characterized by its conservative presence, some of the nation’s most generous blue-state donors share the same South Florida address.

Vecellio sells South End vacant lot
The 204 Via del Mar LLC, Leo Vecellio Jr. principal, has sold a corner vacant lot at 204 Via del Mar for $5.64 million to the Atrium Revocable Trust, Alexander P. Coleman, owner, according to public records. In December 2010, Leo and Kathryn Vecellio sold the adjacent waterfront Fatio-designed landmarked house at 210 Via del Mar to the same entity, Atrium Revocable Trust, for $9.64 million. Anastasia Coleman is the granddaughter of the late William Tavoulareas, president of Mobil Oil, according to The New York Times. In the matter of Leo and Kathryn Vecellio’s ongoing lawsuit filed in December 2009 against the builders, architects, and craftsmen involved in the construction of their $45 million North Ocean Boulevard “dream house,” as of August 17 there has been 1,460 related court filings involving 22 defendants and 17 law firms of record. If the case goes unsettled, the convention center may be the most viable venue to stage the trial. Stay tuned.
Donald Dizney does double deal
Donald R. Dizney, chairman of the Central Florida-based United Medical Corporation, acting as 470 South Ocean LLC, sold a Las Ventanas 6,300-sq.-ft. condominium at 102 Gulfstream Road-A for $5.7 million to 102 Gulfstream LLC, Amy Feldman, principal. At the same time, Amy Feldman sold a nearby vacant oceanfront lot at 516 South Ocean through an LLC for a recorded price of $6.2 million to another company whose principal is Donald Dizney. According to published reports and the Corcoran agents involved in the transactions, Jim McCann and Dana Koch, “… It was a trade transaction.”
In February 2008 Robert and Amy Feldman paid $3.7 million for 228 Seabreeze Avenue. In January 2011, the Feldmans sold it as 228 Seabreeze LLC for $2.75 million. Robert Feldman, a prominent political fundraiser in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and his wife Amy bought the vacant lot at 516 South Ocean in 2008 for $10.4 million, according to court records, $4 million more than the recent $6.2 million recorded price that Mr. Dizney paid.
In 2003 Donald and Irene Dizney paid $3.94 million for 313 Dunbar, located in the cul-de-sac on the Lake Trail overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway. Mr. Dizney’s healthcare business includes sports and entertainment venues as well as Dizco Properties.
North End oceanfront sold
1070 North Ocean Boulevard, entrance drive. The same Trust that reportedly bought an adjacent vacant oceanfront lot from the Janina Radtke Revocable Trust at 1071 North Ocean Boulevard in May for $12 million has paid Alan M. and Karen Krause, as trustees for the Karen Krause Residence Trust, $16.88 million for the Krause’s 1070 North Ocean Boulevard estate. If these transactions were considered as one sale, the $28 million would make for the year’s largest residential sale. The seller Allan M. Krause is the founder and chairman of the Ohio-based Mid-America Management Company, a diversified real estate company whose holdings include 5,346 rental apartments in 14 multi-family complexes, according to Mid-America’s web site. In 2001 Greenwich residents Walter and Nancy Raquet sold the 1070 South Ocean property for $10 million. As you may recall, the Raquets most recently sold their lakefront 215 Via del Mar for $19.5 million to Kenneth and Claudia Silverman.
Landmarked Streamline Moderne sold
Rush Limbaugh has a new neighbor. While it is not unusual for some Palm Beach properties to have sold three, five or even seven of more times during the past decade, 1498 North Ocean Way had not been on the market for more than twenty years. Zachary Shipley and Nicole Lawton, fka Nicole Shipley, sold their landmarked Streamline Moderne house for $3.395 million to Vladislav and Marina Kasarda. On the market for more than a year, the house was designed by Murray Hoffman, whose brother Francis Burrall Hoffman designed Vizcaya as well as several pre-WW I Palm Beach houses.
Bloomberg LP chairman snaps up 201 El Bravo for $6.97 million
Peter and Julie Fisher Cummings have sold their South End Mediterranean-style house at 201 El Bravo Way for $6.97 million to Peter and Laurie Grauer, according to court records. Designed by Volk & Maass in 1931 and restored in 1998, the eclectic four-bedroom main house featured a living room with a decorative cypress-beam ceiling, a loggia with wet bar overlooking the pool, coquina-stone courtyard, and a three-car garage. The Cummings’ purchased the house in 1999 for $3.72 million. Mr. Grauer is the chairman of Bloomberg LP.
Former Burroughs house goes for $1.2 million
Attorney David S. Pressley and his wife Mary G. Pressley, of 210 Sanford Avenue, have bought the house next door to them at 202 Sanford Avenue for $1.2 million from Schofield Andrews III of Northwest Harbor, Maine, as trustee for the Personal Residence Trust of Mary Stair Crane. While a property at this level would not usually be mentioned, it is the onetime residence of author William S. Burroughs’ parents, Mortimer and Laura Lee Burroughs. Mortimer and Laura Burroughs ran an antique shop, Cobblestone Gardens, in St. Louis and Palm Beach for many years. William Burroughs’ grandfather was the founder of the Burroughs Adding Machine Company. Following the accidental bow-and-arrow “William Tell-styled” death of Mrs. Burroughs in Mexico, the author’s son William Seward “Billy” Burroughs III, also an author, lived with his grandparents in St. Louis and at their Palm Beach house. Billy Burroughs was a member of a certain Palm Beach set during the late 1960s, succumbing in Florida in 1981 due to complications from an assortment of self-induced ills.
Lighting up Palm Beach
These roadside light fixtures recall Palm Beach’s eclectic resort style.
Tangier Avenue house sells for more than $12 million
John W. Copeland III and Gianna F. Biondi paid $12.475 million for 254 Tangier Avenue, according to the recently recorded warranty deed. First Republic provided financing for a $7 million mortgage, according to court records. In February 2005 254 Tangier LLC, headed by Massachussetts-based developer and Palm Beach resident Patrick Carney, purchased the property for $3 million and demolished the existing Maurice Fatio-designed house built in 1936,described as being in “poor condition,” according to the ARCOM minutes. Then, Mr. Carney built the existing more than 11,000-square-foot house described as “Georgian-style,” after a 5-2 ARCOM vote where Mr. Wideman and Mr. Shaw voted against approval noting the house was “too massive and loomed over the neighboring houses,” according to the meeting minutes. The buyer Mr. Copeland is affiliated with Affiliated Managers Group Inc., headed by Sean Healey who you may recall last February bought 6 Via Los Incas for $17 million. In June AMG announced that Copeland would direct its wealth management business based in West Palm Beach.
Novelist James Patterson adds iron gate
What? You thought novelist James Patterson’s South Ocean Boulevard house was finished when you saw the distinctive countdown sign taken down and the moving trucks pull away? Obviously, it was time for rewrites, a new vision to help keep the economy moving.
Voila! At Ananda, the battalion of bricklayers was called back, the brick driveway removed, a new entrance feature-wall was put up (modest by PB standards), an iron gate installed, and the bricks repositioned.
North Lake Way resident awarded $28 million in civil suit
After a two-week trial a Palm Beach County jury returned a $28.8 million verdict in favor of Mohammad Al-Saleh, pictured above, who claimed he was defrauded out of more than $50 million by Gulf Stream billionaire Harry Sargeant III who was enriched by contracts with the US Department of Defense to supply fuel to US servicemen in Iraq. And you thought since the US was occupying an oil-rich nation there would be no need for the DoD to spend $1 billion importing oil? Think again. Although the case had its sensational moments, allegations of bribery of Jordanian officials, a former CIA agent-operative, and claims of war-profiteering, I only sat through two afternoon sessions. I did hear Mr. Sargeant’s partner Mustafa Abu-Naba’s taped deposition from the Dominican Republic. Mr. Al-Saleh is married to King Abdullah II of Jordan’s sister and they jointly own two North Lake Way properties. One of lakefront houses was owned by the late King Hussein who bought it from his friend Jim Kimberly; the adjacent house at 1320 North Lake Way is currently on the market. I doubt Mr. Al-Saleh is expecting a check anytime soon as Sargeant has already filed a federal suit and appeal of the civil verdict is expected.
Wellington fairway estate goes for $2 million

Robert and Marianne Kauffman sold their Palm Beach Polo and Country Club house at 11707 Maidstone Drive for $2 million to the 11707 Maidstone Drive Trust, Charles Clancy as trustee, 11812 San Vicente - 4th floor, Los Angeles, California. The Los Angeles address is that of a management company that represents individuals in the entertainment industry, including actor and golf enthusiast Samuel L. Jackson.

Legendary Elephant Walk sells  for $6.8 million
In 2008 Carroll Petrie paid $7.45 million for  109 Jungle Road, the onetime C.V. “Sonny” and Marylou Whitney South End estate known as Elephant Walk, selling it for $6.819 million, according to court documents filed late Thursday afternoon. Most recently listed for $9.8 million by Toni Hollis and Gary Little of the Fite Shavell & Associates office, the actual selling price was “more than the recorded price,” according to principal David Fite. Highlighted by its “pristine gardens,” the formal six-bedroom  house was originally designed by prolific Cleveland builder and developer Clarence Mack during the 1950s before being redesigned a decade later by architect John Volk. In 2009 NYC designer John Christensen directed a substantial renovation of the property.

Construction continues at former Madoff cottage
Most of the remaining Madoff clan may have resettled in Boca Raton but Ruth and Bernie Madoff’s Palm Beach cottage remains, still undergoing a Texas-sized renovation on North Lake Way.
North Lake Way waterfront lot sold
The Boston-based TAJA Realty Trust has sold a lakefront lot with more than 150-feet of frontage at 1348 North Lake Way for $5.17 million to a West Palm Beach-based LLC. Situated at the west end of Dolphin Road, broker Christian Angle of Christian Angle Real Estate listed the property for $7.495 million; associate Jim McCann of Corcoran Group Real Estate represented the buyer.
Most recently, Christian Angle has been either on the buy-or-sell end of several of the island’s most noticeable transactions, as well as the sizeable sale of boxing promoter Don King’s two adjacent Manalapan oceanfront houses.
North End 1940s house settles for $4.4 million
Miami-based Queens Lane LLC, Thomas Henkin as principal, deeded 270 Queens Lane to 270 Queens Lane LLC for $4.435 million, Thomas Miller as principal, who then deeded the house to Catherine and Thomas Miller for $10. According to court records, Queens Lane LLC bought the house for in January 2007 for $2.65 million with Gibraltar Private Bank providing Mr. Henkin’s company a $4.493 million mortgage. A Wharton School graduate might want to utilize an abacus to unravel the rest of the court documents concerning this property
1356 North Ocean Boulevard closing completes swap
Five months after North End resident Tim Gannon paid $5.5 million for 1300 North Ocean Boulevard in March, the sellers of 1300 NOB, Michael D. Tannenbaum and Wolfgang Von Falkenberg, as personal representatives of the estate of Standard Oil heiress Ann Terry Pierce McBride, have closed on Mr. Gannon’s former residence at 1356 North Ocean Boulevard, pictured above, for a recorded price of $3.25 million. In January 2007, Gannon paid $4.78 million, $1.5 million more than the recent recorded price in the sale to Von Falkenberg. In court documents filed August 5, in the matter of the Estate of Ann Pierce McBride vs. McIntosh Trust and Wolfgang Von Falkenberg, the court granted the plaintiff a summary judgment authorizing the disbursement of funds to the McBride estate from the sale to Gannon that were being held in escrow since the court-approved sale in March.
North Lake Way makeover
A few pre-season touch-ups along North Lake Way.
Paramount Building restoration to proceed
Rev. Dwight Stevens, owner of the mixed-use landmarked Paramount Building, appears to have obtained the necessary funds to restore the original Joseph Urban-designed railings that had fallen into disrepair. When a concerted attempt to attract donations fell short, several Palm Beach residents agreed to extend loans that would facilitate the necessary renovations. Interestingly, many years ago the Town Council entertained the notion of buying the Paramount and holding their meetings in the theater.
The restoration of the original railings will enhance the Paramount Building courtyard’s authentic ambiance.
Mark your calendars, Publix on schedule for pre-Christmas opening
The new super-sized 45,000 square-foot Publix supermarket is reported to be on schedule for a pre-Christmas opening. Above, the Publix construction site on Sunday morning.
Heavenly Palm Beach
Friday afternoon,19 August. North End.
Talk of the Town
Buccan Restaurant, 350 South County Road, Palm Beach.
Midtown Palm Beach has proven highly speculative for new restaurants until a few months ago when Chef Clay Conley and partners opened their new bistro-bar-lounge, now considered among the resort’s most popular along with Café Europe, Chez Jean Pierre and the perennial Palm Beach Grill.
Chef Clay Conley.
Buccan’s menu offers an array of options, hurried bites or full-course dinners.
Dream South Beach Hotel & Tudor House Restaurant
1111 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach
Thursday afternoon’s scene at the SoBe Dream’s rooftop Highbar – Pool + Bar + Sky with a surprising crowd for mid-August basking in a heat index at around 100 F.
NYC hotel impressario Vikram Chatwal has imported his brand to South Beach, having put together two former Mid-century Moderne venues, the Tudor Hotel and the Palmer House, into one luxe 108-room boutique destination. Add to that NYC and Food TV culinary gourmand Geoffrey Zakarian and you have the making for yet another SoBe sensation, if it can overcome its one-block-off Ocean Drive and off-the-beach location. Mr. Zakarian’s Lambs Club restaurant is located in the Chatwal Hotel near Times Square.
The Dream Hotel’s rooftop bar also has a shaded pool area.
The Dream South Beach has retained the original unique Tudor Hotel rooftop signage. A view from Collins Avenue of the Dream South Beach’s south entrance that houses Geoffrey Zakarian’s Tudor House restaurant.
A sculptural elephant, a touch of Neo-New Delhi style perhaps, enjoys an afternoon mist in the courtyard connecting the former Palmer House and Tudor Hotel.
Having retained its original Palmer House flair, the Dream Hotel’s entrance on Collins Avenue leads into the main lobby.
Tudor House restaurant entrance, 11th Street. With a rave review from The Miami Herald, “a sophisticated foodie mecca,” I ventured to the Tudor House for lunch on Thursday at 1 pm. Although I was the sole diner during my 90-minute visit, there was quite a few staff busily coming and going. I opted for the three-course prix-fixe ($28 with tip). I was underwhelmed although each course was punctuated by the waiter telling me “it was excellent …” With a stampede of diners along Lincoln Road and Ocean Drive, the Tudor House restaurant’s mid-Collins Avenue location could prove challenging.
Crumb on Parchment
3930 NE 2nd Avenue, Design District, Miami
Kitchen stadium? No, it is Michelle Bernstein’s Crumb on Parchment casual dining bakery-cafe located in the atrium of one of the Design District’s showroom complexes. Although my bare-plated eggy onion quiche and peach tart were nowhere near the flavors I have found on the Left or Right Bank, some of the sandwiches looked appetizing enough that I would probably return.
Photographs by Augustus Mayhew.
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