By AUGUSTUS MAYHEW
Special to the Daily News
Sunday, December 06, 2009
After a year of unusual house trades, price meltdowns, foreclosure transfers and tepid sales, La Bellucia, a landmarked oceanfront Addison Mizner-designed house at 1200 S. Ocean Blvd., sold Friday for $24 million, making for Palm Beach’s largest recorded sale in 2009, according to real estate sources.
La Bellucia’s owner, the First Allied Jacksonville Corp., a Rochester, N.Y.-based holding company owned by Palm Beach resident Malcolm Glazer, sold the nine-bedroom approximately 12,000-square-foot house set on 3.8 acres to Los Angeles real estate developer and billionaire Jeffrey Greene, several sources indicated.
Greene has maintained residences in Beverly Hills, the 63,000-square-foot Palazzo de Amore set on 27 acres, and in Miami Beach, according to Forbes magazine, which ranked Greene’s estimated $1.3 billion fortune as number 317 on its 2009 list of the 400 Richest Americans.
Glazer holds controlling stakes in the Manchester United soccer team, and owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a National Football League team. He and his family are ranked number 139 on the Forbes 400 list.
Listed for $27.5 million by Paulette Koch and Dana Koch, Corcoran Group associates and partners, the historic South End estate was a sought-after trophy property, sited on a ridge overlooking more than 234 feet of oceanfront and featuring original Mizner finishes.
“This spectacular oceanfront property sold in less than 30 days despite the current market environment,” Dana Koch said.
“We had multiple offers and several people who wanted the house,” said Paulette Koch, whose $77.5 million recorded sale last year of the ultra-modern Sidney Kimmel estate at 1236 S. Ocean Blvd., two properties south of La Bellucia, received Corcoran’s Deal of the Year Award for 2008.
“People sense now is the time to buy,” Warren said. “Our buyer had looked in the North End and in the estate area, but it was this property’s incomparable 3½-acre ocean setting that sold it.”
First owner named it after ‘Beautiful Lucy’
Designed in 1920 for Rome, N.Y., physician and capitalist Willey J. Kingsley on what was then an isolated stretch of beach (the adjacent Bath & Tennis Club was not completed until 1927), La Bellucia “Beautiful Lucy,” was named for Kingsley’s wife, Lucy Stevens Kingsley, whom he married in 1918. The Kingsleys, as well as being active Palm Beachers (she was a founding member of the Garden Club of Palm Beach), were members of private clubs in New York, London and Paris. Willey Kingsley had abandoned his medical practice to pursue and expand on his father’s business interests. One of U.S. Steel and the Revere Copper Co.’s largest stockholders, Kingsley was president of the Rome Manufacturing Co., the Rome Locomotive Works and several banks, among other interests.
Another of La Bellucia’s prominent owners was Ailsa Mellon Bruce (1901-1969), who during the 1950s Forbes magazine termed the richest woman in the United States. Her marriage to David Bruce resulted in a publicized divorce in 1945 at the Palm Beach County Courthouse.
Following her death, her brother, Paul Mellon, as the executor of her estate, sold the property to Pennsylvania architect Robert Ballinger and his wife, Wynne S. “Didi” Ballinger, who restored and retrofitted the house. Didi Ballinger, who established the Preservation Foundation’s Ballinger Award in honor of her husband to commemorate the town’s best historical restoration each year, subsequently sold the house to newspaper scion Daniel J. Mahoney, a former publisher of Palm Beach Newspapers Inc.
In 2000, Mahoney’s heirs sold La Bellucia, also known as Coconut Hill, for $14 million to Glazer’s company, First Allied Jacksonville Corp. During the next several years, Glazer’s representatives sought approval to demolish the historic main house, claiming economic hardship; when those efforts failed, they attempted to relocate it to another site on the property, according to town records. The house also was subject to code enforcement actions when landmarks preservation commissioners feared demolition by neglect.
“La Bellucia just may be the island’s only remaining Mizner house designed specifically for its oceanfront setting, as Louwana, Amado and other remaining oceanfront Mizner houses at the North and South Ends were designed with Ocean Boulevard running in front of the houses,” said Jane Day, the town’s historic preservation consultant.
“It is great news someone might be living in the house,” Day added.