A tech and real estate finance entrepreneur whose family dates back four generations on St. Croix paid $9.5 million for a Moorish-style castle on the island that was built by a Bulgarian-born countess.
Yuri Farber, the husband of the late Countess Nadia de Navarro-Farber, sold the ivory domed castle and its 110-acre estate to John Alexander, who plans to turn it into a short-term rental or an events space, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The Spanish countess died in 2014 at age 98. Two years later, her husband listed the property for $15 million. Its most recent asking price was $8.99 million.
Alexander had been eyeing the hilltop Caribbean property for years.
“It’s been on my to-do list for 15 years,” said Alexander, 60, who grew up in Idaho and moved back to St. Croix in 2021. “It’s an amazing property.”
Alexander, who has another home in St. Croix, doesn’t plan to move in. “I’m not a duke or a contessa,” he said.
The 10,000-square-foot castle flanked by crenelated turrets had been the Carribean vacation home of de Navarro-Farber.
The twice-widowed opera singer, actress, entrepreneur and philanthropist lived primarily on Long Island and had once been married to a Spanish count. She was also married to the late Sid Farber, a builder of thousands of homes and industrial buildings on Long Island. The two Farbers aren’t related.
She designed the two-story castle where she spent four months a year entertaining guests. Inside, a domed ceiling is painted to look like a blue sky with clouds and a column fans out in the shape of a flower. It has terraced gardens and a retaining wall for privacy.
The six-bedroom, six-bath mansion overlooks the sea. It has a swimming pool, three cottages and the remains of a pier once used as a university laboratory.
The property, which runs from the top of a mountain to the beach, has about 8.5 acres of commercially zoned land where Alexander would like to put retail shops, a grocery store and a restaurant. He said he plans to subdivide 70 acres of vacant land for residential development.
As for the castle? Alexander, who has a home elsewhere on St. Croix, said he plans to renovate it for an event space and short-term rental.
Agent Peter Briggs of Christie’s International Real Estate/ the Saints shared the listing with Honnie Edwards of Calabash Real Estate, who also helped Alexander buy several other St. Croix properties, including two hotels.
Virgin Islands real estate has soared during an influx of city-dwellers during Covid, agents say.
“It’s been a boom for us,” said Briggs, whose sales volume shot up 300 percent from pre-pandemic levels. On St. John, he said, he recently sold a non-waterfront property for $9.7 million. “In the old days, a $2-million, $3-million, $4-million home was quite something,” he said. “And now we’ve broken the $10-million mark.”
[Wall Street Journal] – Dana Bartholomew