Palm Beach real estate: Billionaire Ken Griffin OK’d to raze house at huge estate

No word yet on what the Chicago hedge-fund manager plans to build on his 17-acre property, the largest estate in Palm Beach.

Palm Beach officials have given hedge-fund billionaire Ken Griffin permission to knock down a lakefront house he acquired last year to expand his Billionaires Row estate in Palm Beach.

The house at 1285 S. Ocean Blvd. stands on about an acre, a quarter-mile south of President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago. With 193 feet of lakefront, the property is immediately across the coastal road from Griffin’s beachfront land.

The Architectural Commission’s unanimous approval Wednesday to demolish the 1983 house came more than a year after Griffin pulled the plug on a massive oceanfront residence he had planned to build on his estate, the largest in town at 17 acres. The since-axed house would have stretched longer than a football field and faced 871 feet of shoreline.

Griffin spent more than $250 million assembling his estate over five years, and the majority of the property is vacant.

Griffin has not yet submitted plans for a new house on the oceanfront part of the estate at 1290 S. Ocean Blvd.

The house he just won approval to raze is his only property facing the Intracoastal Waterway. Its acquisition turned his property into a rare ocean-to-lake estate on that stretch of Billionaires Row.

Palm Beach architect Jeffery Smith of Smith Architectural Group presented the demolition plans to the architectural board.

Chairman Bob Vila mentioned that he was friends with the former owner, Anna Murdoch Mann dePeyster. Vila has visited the house, which was designed by Florida architect Charles Harrison Pawley. Vila described the residence as “a wonderful example of good, open-air architecture from the late 1970s or ’80s.”

According to a sales listing from 2003, the four-bedroom house has “spectacular views,” a walk-in wine cellar and a covered patio among its amenities. Property records show the house has 10,833 total square feet.

Griffin, who runs the Citadel hedge fund in Chicago, has a net worth of about $11.7 billion, according to the latest Forbes rankings. In March, he ranked No. 4 on a Forbes’ list of the country’s highest-earning hedge-fund managers.

With longtime ties to South Florida, Griffin made local headlines last year with a $20 million donation to West Palm Beach’s Norton Museum of Art, which named its new wing after him. On visits to Palm Beach, Griffin resides at a house he renovated on his estate.

In March 2018, the Palm Beach County Clerk’s office recorded an ownership change for the lakeside house, although the amount that changed hands was never made public because of the way the off-market deal was structured.

Griffin used an ownership company to acquire the house from dePeyster. She was the second wife of Rupert Murdoch, CEO and founder of News Corp. and creator of FOX Broadcasting. The couple divorced in 1999, and she married the late financier and businessman William Houston Mann the same year. In April of this year, she married Ashton dePeyster.

Murdoch-Mann, a Scottish journalist and novelist, paid a recorded $11.42 million for the South Ocean Boulevard property in May 2003, records show.

The lakefront house was built by the late Michael Burrows, who in 1979 developed the Blossom Estate subdivision where many of Griffin’s properties lie. It was one of four houses Burrows developed on speculation on land once owned by the Bingham-Blossom family and, even earlier, by Palm Beach pioneer George Wells Potter.

The property measures about 2 acres, according to Palm Beach County records, but half of the land is underwater, according to an aerial map on the county’s property appraiser’s website.

A Griffin spokesman, who has previously declined to discuss the lakefront property, could not be reached Wednesday.

Most of Griffin’s Palm Beach purchases were brokered by Lawrence Moens of Lawrence A. Moens Associates, including a $20.25 million purchase a year ago of a house at 10 Blossom Way.

Griffin regularly makes national headlines for his real estate deals. In January, he closed a $238 million purchase of an under-construction penthouse at 220 Central Park South in New York City. That deal set a new record for the most expensive residential sale in the country.

Last year, he set a Chicago record when he paid $58.75 million for a high-rise condominium. In Miami Beach, he set another sales record in 2015 when he paid $60 million for a penthouse in the trend-setting Faena House.

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