Florida mansions: pricey and private

As temps grow colder, ranking top listings in NYC’s prime getaway destination

TRD New York /
Nov.November 09, 2015 10:00 AM

As temperatures turn chillier, LLNYC readers like to curl up by the fire with a glass of pinot — and browse vacation home listings in warm-weather destinations.

Here in New York City, real estate headlines from South Florida are typically dominated by high-end condo news, like the record-breaking, nearly $60 million sale of an eight-bedroom duplex in Miami Beach at the end of September. But another segment of the luxury market — mansions — attracts keen interest because they offer something that high-end condo projects, no matter how spectacular, can’t top: exclusivity and extreme privacy, brokers say.

Coldwell Banker’s Jill Eber and Jill Hertzberg represent 1 Casuarina Concourse in Coral Gables, the priciest mansion on the market in South Florida (excluding new homes under construction, a distinction LLNYC made in order to compare similar types of properties). According to Hertzberg, luxury buyers seek out mansions because they want a high-end lifestyle without having to deal with other people in common spaces and recreation areas.

Owned by auto magnate Alan Potamkin, the Coral Gables mansion, which has 937 feet of waterfront on Biscayne Bay, “is for someone who can create a private resort feeling,” Hertzberg said. It’s not, she noted, for someone who wants to share a pool with other residents.

Paulette Koch, senior broker associate at Corcoran Group Palm Beach, who represents 89 Middle Road — the highest-priced single-family residence for sale in Palm Beach and the No. 2 residence on LLYNC’s list — said the combination of “coveted privacy, along with the utmost quality, is quite compelling.”

Of course mansions set themselves apart by their price tags. South Florida real estate brokers usually identify the luxury market as being $5 million and above, with super-luxury at $10 million and above. Koch said that she estimates that mansions, in the category of $20+ million, represent 1 to 2 percent of the luxury market.

Koch said that luxury brokers are seeing a much younger buyer now than 10 years ago, as well as an influx of people from New York and California, in particular, to Palm Beach. They’re drawn by a lack of state income tax, no local taxes, and attractive estate taxes that confer major short- and long-term advantages, she said. “Another important factor is that these buyers find that Palm Beach real estate is extremely well-valued compared to what they are used to, and there is a variety of major estates from which to choose.”

To William PD Pierce of Coldwell Banker, the mansion category “is on fire.”

It makes sense for the luxury residential buyer to buy in South Florida, said Pierce, who sees New Yorkers and New Jersey natives represented among the main buyers in the luxury market today.

“In the past, everyone talked about Brazilian and Russian buyers, but those countries have a lot of problems right now. Today, the strongest buyer is American. The American buyer is looking at the value in real estate in South Florida and what they get for the money,” he said, adding that the security of Florida’s Homestead Exemption, which offers the broadest debtor protection in the United States, is another reason for some to consider the area.

The priciest mansions being marketed in South Florida are featured below.


1 Casuarina Concourse, Coral Gables
9 beds; 10 full baths, 5 half baths; 20,862 square feet

This Coral Gables mansion has 937 lots of water frontage and a private beach on Biscayne Bay. Built in 2000, the home’s main floor has a chef’s and separate family kitchen, a formal dining room with a 1,500-bottle wine room, a family room, corporate office with private bath, children’s playroom, three powder rooms and a guest bedroom and bath. The grounds include a koi pond, lighted tennis/basketball court and a cabana with mini-kitchen. A heated pool and spa overlook the bay. “This is a property that is just incomparable,” Jill Eber of Coldwell Banker said, pointing to the “prestigious location” on a 3.6-acre peninsula.


89 Middle Road, Palm Beach
10 beds; 11 baths; 12,000-square-foot main residence

The most expensive property on the market in Palm Beach, an estate once owned by the late billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist John Kluge, sits on 4.3 acres, creating a private compound with 150 feet of ocean frontage. The property features park-like grounds, an updated 1935 main house with 12,000 square feet, and a 6,000-square-foot Mediterranean Revival-style house on the ocean. Three additional buildings accommodate guests or staff. Paulette Koch of Corcoran Group Palm Beach, who has the listing, said Palm Beach has many opportunities for dining and entertainment at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, the Norton Museum of Art and polo events in Wellington, and is close to area airports. “We are quite spoiled by convenience,” she said.


3551 Main Highway, Coconut Grove
9 beds; 8 full baths, 3 half baths; 13,803 square feet

This property, known as La Brisa, is a Mediterranean-style estate on 6.9 acres, a sizable acreage that’s “unheard of” on Biscayne Bay, said William PD Pierce of Coldwell Banker, who has the listing. The home features views of both the bay and the Atlantic Ocean and overlooks an ancient coral reef. It was originally constructed during the 1920s and recently went through a restoration. Unique architectural details include a multi-colored tile roof, original woodwork on the upper-floor galleries, arched doors and windows, and wrought iron and wood balconies, according to the listing. There is 3,338 square feet of outdoor living space with several balconies and covered porches. A coral patio surrounds a pool and sunken fire pit for outdoor entertaining.


640 S. Ocean Boulevard, Palm Beach
8 beds; 9 full baths, 3 half baths; 15,500 square feet

This oceanfront estate designed by famed society architect Addison Mizner in 1923 underwent a three-and-a-half year renovation recently, which broker Linda Gary of Linda A. Gary Real Estate told the Palm Beach Daily News left the home “like new” when completed in 2013. The home, which was at one point the home of fashion designer Vera Wang’s father, has not been lived in since the renovation, which added a new kitchen. The mansion boasts a formal living room with a large oceanfront patio, formal dining room, garden room with Portuguese hand-painted tiles, library with a wood beamed ceiling, paneled pub room with wine closet and a four-car garage. There is a tiled swimming pool, loggia and guesthouse.


1 Star Island Drive, Miami Beach
7 beds; 8 baths; 4,747 square feet main residence

Located on exclusive Star Island, this mansion known as Nena’s Villa is owned by musician power couple Gloria and Emilio Estefan. The property consists of a main house, with open verandas built in 1940, and a guesthouse built in 1995. The property has 240 feet of water frontage with unobstructed views of Biscayne Bay and Downtown Miami, Eber of The Jills said. The Estefans reportedly live in another mansion on the island, which is also home to Sean “Diddy” Combs and other celebs. “This was a guest house for them that they were not using any more,” Eber said. Landscaped grounds have tropical foliage and palms and a resort-style pool and private dock.

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