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Beyond the Hedges: Vecellio oceanfront mansion deal may have hit $55M

Posted On: 07-28-2014

By Darrell Hofheinz Daily News Staff Writer

Christopher and Tara Vecellio’s $11.5 million purchase this month of 196 Via Del Mar is the latest of several Palm Beach sales involving members of the Vecellio family this year.

In June, Michael Vecellio, Christopher’s brother, paid a recorded $6.5 million to Abe and Giovana Haruvi for a seven-bedroom house the sellers had rebuilt at 112 Via Palma in the Estate Section. Agents Paulette Koch and Dana Koch of the Corcoran Group had listed the property, and broker Lawrence Moens of Lawrence A. Moens Associates was on the buyer’s side of the deal. Agent Samantha Curry of Fite Shavell & Associates has listed Michael Vecellio’s former home at 232 West Indies Drive for sale at $4.375 million.

Publicly available records and other sources, meanwhile, have linked Christopher and Michael’s parents, Kathryn and Leo A. Vecellio Jr., to 120 Jungle Road, a 1922 house that changed hands for a recorded $25.46 million in March. The six-bedroom house was sold by a Florida limited-liability company controlled by Midwest car dealership owner Mark R. Brentlinger, and the buyer was recorded only as Jungle Road LLC, a limited liability company. The Koches were the listing agents, and Moens represented the buyer. Citing confidentiality agreements, they won’t discuss anyone involved in that deal. The Vecellios couldn’t be reached for comment.

Exactly who owns another house the Vecellios bought for about $42.5 million in late 2008 at 589 N. County Road remains unclear in courthouse records. But several sources in town familiar with the property confirm that Robert and Christine Stiller have taken possession. The former CEO and chairman of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Robert Stiller, and his wife also own a lakefront house they have homesteaded at 11 Via Vizcaya in the Estate Section.

Any sale that occurred was handled quietly earlier this year for an undisclosed amount said to be between $50 million and $55 million. But property records, the local multiple listing service and other sources offer clues to the deal, including the fact that Moens likely acted for the Vecellios and Sotheby’s International Realty agent Cristina Condon for the Stillers. Moens, Condon and the Stillers aren’t commenting, either.

In January, courthouse filings show, Leo and Kathryn Vecellio transferred ownership of the 29,000-square-foot house and guesthouse from their names to an identity-cloaked Delaware limited liability company named North County Oceanview LLC. The deed indicated that the transaction was an internal transfer of ownership rather than an outright sale.

A month after that transfer, Boca Raton attorney Stuart T. Kapp – acting as manager of North County Oceanview LLC — signed an affidavit and a $25 million mortgage with Goldman Sachs Bank on behalf of the property’s ownership. Kapp, incidentally, was involved with at least one other real estate-related document related to the Stillers’ home on Via Vizcaya, courthouse records show.

Kapp has declined to comment, and public records don’t reveal whether the Vecellios actually sold their “membership interests” in the limited-liability company to another party. But that’s exactly what they did when they bought the house on County Road five years ago from its developers.

In June, North County Oceanview LLC filed a notice with the county regarding projects — described as “demolition, general improvements and renovations” — to be carried out at the property. Paul Wittmann of Wittmann Building Corp. was identified as the contractor but won’t discuss the projects.

Also last month, a company controlled by the Vecellios filed an internal transfer of ownership for a house at 200 Bermuda Lane, directly across the coastal road from No. 589. The Vecellios had lived in the Bermuda Lane house – purchased for $2.1 million in 2009 —- while their larger home was under renovation. With three bedrooms, the Bermuda Lane house has lately been marketed for lease by Corcoran’s Team Koch, according to the Palm Beach Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service. The new owner is a Florida limited liability company named Doucet LLC.

The oceanfront house, meanwhile, was the subject last year of a still-pending civil trial stemming from a 2009 lawsuit brought by the Vecellios. The couple claimed they were forced to spend millions of dollars to fix alleged construction defects they attributed to the house’s developer and builder along with subcontractors and vendors. The suit also claimed the defendants knew about defects prior to the house’s sale and were legally obligated to fix them. The defendants denied any wrongdoing.

Last August, a jury issued a verdict in the first portion of the trial, exonerating the subcontractors and holding builder Dan Swanson liable for about $79,000 in damages. Circuit court Judge Gregory H. Keyser hasn’t yet issued his ruling in the non-jury portion of the case against defendants Swanson, his two companies and Dean and Laura DeSantis, who bankrolled the house when it was developed on speculation.

Entrepreneur Bob Stiller retired last year from the board of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, a company he had grown from modest roots into the largest business based in Vermont. In 2012, he took a reduced role on the board in 2012 after Green Mountain stock plummeted. The stock value has since rebounded.

Using a trust, the Stillers paid nearly $10 million for their home on Via Vizcaya in 2011. Agent Jim McCann of the Corcoran Group represented Malasky Homes, which built the spec house, in that deal opposite Condon, according to MLS records.

And from the small-world department: McCann also had the listing when the Vecellios bought 589 N. County Road. Agent Lynn Ciklin of Brown Harris Stevens represented them in that deal.

 

Source: Darrell Hofheinz, July 28, 2014, Palm Beach Daily News

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