Mark Bellissimo sells International Polo Club Palm Beach for $95M

Deal for 161-acre property in Wellington includes fields, social club, restaurant

From left: United States Polo Association Chairman Stewart Armstrong (buyer) and Mark Bellissimo (seller) (USPA, LinkedIn/Mark Bellissimo, Google Maps)
From left: United States Polo Association Chairman Stewart Armstrong (buyer) and Mark Bellissimo (seller) (USPA, LinkedIn/Mark Bellissimo, Google Maps)

Wellington developer Mark Bellissimo sold the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington for $95 million.

Lake Worth Beach-based United States Polo Association bought the 161-acre property on the southwest corner of 120th Avenue and 35th Street from an entity managed by Bellissimo, according to a deed. The properties are at 12560, 12580, 12600 and 12800 35th Street South, as well as at 3667 120th Avenue South.

The deal covers the majority of the 248-acre polo club property Bellissimo, an equestrian real estate investor, bought in 2016 for $72 million.

Included in USPA’s purchase are Fields 1 through 5, the Outback Field and facility, grandstand, clubhouse shop, Mallet Grille restaurant, Seventh Chukker club bar, and the social club, which includes facilities such as a pool, gym and tennis courts, according to a United States Polo Association news release about the deal. The property will be rebranded as The USPA National Polo Center – Wellington.

The trade marks a push to maintain Wellington as the winter equestrian capital of the world, and stave off redevelopment of the property. In light of the housing crunch, South Florida developers have been homing in on expansive land tracts suitable for homebuilding, although much of their focus so far has been on closed golf courses.

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In the release, Bellissomo said he chose USPA over competing buyers’ offers as well as real estate development proposals, as a way “to ensure that this fundamental pillar of the Wellington equestrian domain will be here for the next 100 years.”

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USPA, led by Chairman Stewart Armstrong, will continue to host the Gauntlet of Polo three-month competition at the property, and also expand tournaments. This year, USPA will bring the Federation of International Polo World Championship to the site Oct. 26 to Nov. 6, and also will strive to grow and support polo players at various levels, according to the release.

USPA will form a subsidiary to oversee the social club and hospitality offerings revitalization. Tim Gannon, co-founder of Outback Steakhouse and three-time winner of the U.S. Open Polo Championship, will head the subsidiary, the release says.

Bellissimo, managing partner and majority shareholder of Wellington Equestrian Partners, has been selling off his properties. Last year, he sold the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, at Pierson Road west of State Road 7 in Wellington, to Danish company Global Equestrian Group, led by CEO Andreas Helgstrand. The property has since been rebranded Wellington International. A purchase price was not disclosed.

Wellington, in western Palm Beach County, is home to equestrian estates of various sizes that have attracted high-profile buyers. Bill Gates; Michael Bloomberg; Billy Joel and his equestrian wife, Alexis; Bruce Springsteen; and Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs all have had ties to Wellington.

In May, ex-Enron executive Lou Pai and his wife, Melanie, bought the equestrian estate at 5605, 5625, 5679 and 5727 140th Avenue South for $8.2 million. The property includes horse stables and stalls, jumping and riding arenas, and staff quarters.

In October, Nancy Malnik, the wife of The Forge co-founder Alvin Malnik, paid $12.3 million for the almost 17-acre property at 15725 Sunset Lane in Wellington. The property has a two-story, six-bedroom house, as well as stalls and riding arenas.

That same month, Louis Jacobs, a member of the billionaire Jacobs family that owns the NHL’s Boston Bruins, as well as the team’s arena TD Garden, bought the equestrian estate at 4827 South 125th Avenue for $11 million.