The Real Deal Miami

Holiday shopping list: discounted Palm Beach mansions

By Sally Apgar | November 23, 2009 04:00PM

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From left: 300 Regents Park, Cooley’s 8 Windsor Court

Palm Beach political activist and nationally ranked croquet champ William Cooley is ready to move to something smaller and is pricing his elegant French Country manse to sell.

After it languished on the market for two years at $15 million, Cooley has dropped the price of his five-bedroom, 11,200-square-foot mansion to $9.9 million.

Cooley, who plans to build a smaller home, likely in Palm Beach, said, “It’s not fire-sale priced, but it should get some attention. I’m just trying to keep up with the market. And it doesn’t do any good priced at $14.9 million.”

His broker, Jeffrey Cloninger, said of the pricing: “Bill wanted to price it stunningly low to bring a buyer who will see a bargain. He wants to get it done this year.” And, “You couldn’t build this house for that.”

Cloninger, who’s been a Palm Beach real estate broker for the last 15 years, added, “This house is incredible. Queen Elizabeth could drop by tonight and you wouldn’t have to do a thing.”

Cloninger is also pricing a stately Regency mansion on the Intracoastal Waterway for $7.9 million, down from the $10 million it was listed at two years and three brokers ago.

“I’m the fourth broker and this is the lowest price,” said Cloninger of the estate at 300 Regency Park, owned by one of  Palm Beach’s society Grandes Dames, Beatrice Ford.

Cloninger said, “This is a lakefront estate with an architectural [Clarence Mack] pedigree in the estate section of town and the house is like a Hollywood movie set for high society.”

The four-bedroom high-glam mansion presides over 70 feet of the Intracoastal, not far from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago.

Cooley’s French Country gated estate at 8 Windsor Court was custom-built in 2002 and is advertised as having “every imaginable amenity — home theater, elevator, cabana, four-car garage and two private guest/staff apartments.”

“Their garage is nicer than a lot of Palm Beach homes,” Cloninger said.

A full-time resident of Palm Beach since 1996, Cooley was a land developer in Minnesota. He also served as the mayor of the wealthy Minneapolis suburb of Minnetonka and as the deputy mayor of Minneapolis.

In Palm Beach, Cooley has made a name for himself serving on the Landmarks Preservation Commission and speaking out on town issues. In April, Cooley won his first major croquet title at Mar-a-Lago Club’s 2009 Singles Invitational.

“We’d like to build again in Palm Beach. Something smaller, our needs are less than they were,” said Cooley, who also owns a 6,000- square-foot home in North Carolina, a 7,000-square-foot residence in Wayzata, Minn. and a downtown Minneapolis condominium.

Cloninger, an independent realtor who splits his time between Palm Beach and Aspen, believes the island’s luxury market hit bottom mid-summer and is rebounding. Many experts have said the market reverted to pricing levels of 2004 and 2005 and that once sellers priced accordingly, sales picked up.

“The worst is over; we’re on the upswing,” Cloninger said. “People are out looking and they’re make offers and deals. We’ve been far busier this August to November than [the same period] last year.”