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Landmarked Middle Road house sells for $11.73M

Posted On: 10-23-2014

By Darrell Hofheinz Daily News Real Estate Writer

Fewer than five months after it last changed hands, Tre Fontaine — a landmarked house at 61 Middle Road — has been sold. The recorded price was $11.73 million, according to the price recorded with the deed.

Dr. Ben Han and his wife, Laetitia M. Perais Han, bought the restored Mediterranean-style house. It was designed and built in 1924 by noted society architect Marion Sims Wyeth, who lived there for 15 years.

The West Palm Beach couple bought the Estate Section house from Royalton Group US Holding, a development company affiliated with Peter Wood, a British businessman with a vacation home in Palm Beach. He controls the company with a business partner, Ken Parker, who builds high-end homes in England.

In May, Royalton paid billionaire Jon Stryker $20 million for the house and an adjacent half-acre vacant lot on the ocean. That deal was part of a $43-million, three-property purchase that included another beachfront Wyeth house — once owned by singer Jimmy Buffet and his wife, Jane — at 540 S. Ocean Blvd.

The Stryker sale marked the largest recorded multi-property transaction on the island so far this year. It also was the most expensive simultaneous sale ever involving adjacent properties in the Estate Section, property records show.

Broker John O. Picket III of Barrett Welles Property Group acted on behalf of the seller in Friday’s deal on Middle Road. He also represented Royalton in May opposite Corcoran Group listing agents Paulette Koch and Dana Koch.

Agent Ben Stein of Brown Harris Stevens negotiated for the Hans. The couple put Tre Fontaine — “Three Fountains” — under contract shortly after the May sale closed.

The deal materialized before Pickett even had a chance to list the property for sale. He said he had planned to advertise it at $12.5 million.

‘Casita’ included

About a quarter-mile south of Worth Avenue, the property includes a main house and guest house known as a “casita.” Together, the buildings have eight bedrooms, and the property offers 9,500 square feet of total living space, inside and out. The lot measures 124 feet by 229 feet.

Stryker restored the house and used it as his residence. Its features include a cypress-paneled living room with French doors accessing the patio by the pool and gardens. Other historic elements include original fireplaces, extensive tilework, elaborately painted ceilings and restored Cuban-tile floors.

The home’s west wall facing Middle Road is the only part of the house that has earned landmark protection from the town. That means an owner could demolish the rest of the house as long as the wall remained untouched.

The Hans have a deep appreciation for historic homes and plan to keep the house intact, Stein said. They will be making some updates, he added, and have hired William R. Eubanks Interior Design to decorate their new home.

“They bought the house to save it,” Steins said. “They want to carry on Marion Sims Wyeth’s legacy.

”‘Old-school’ Palm Beach

Typical of some winter homes of its era, the second-floor rooms in the main house can be accessed only by an exterior open-air staircase. It rises from the Roman-style entrance courtyard to an open-air gallery connecting the master bedroom and guest bedrooms.

That architectural quirk, however, was among the features that appealed to the Hans, said Stein. “They loved it,” he said, adding that the couple did not want to comment directly about their new house.

Pickett said he was glad the house had found an owner who would respect its heritage.

“It’s a very ‘old-school’ Palm Beach house,” Pickett said. “They don’t build them like that anymore. And it was in excellent shape.

”Dr. Han is a radiation oncologist affiliated with South Florida Radiation Oncology. He and his wife have owned a 1925 house at 255 Valencia Road off Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach since 2007, property records show. An unidentified buyer already has that home under contract, said Stein, who declined to provide details about the upcoming sale.

Stryker bought the three properties that comprised his 2.6-acre estate over 16 years, starting with his $3.9-million purchase of Tre Fontaine in 1998, property records show.

Royalton Group plans to develop a house on speculation for the vacant lot at 530 S. Ocean Blvd.Meanwhile, Wood plans to build a custom home on the 1.6-acre property at the corner of South Ocean Boulevard and Via Marina. He could not be reached for comment.

Unlike many Palm Beach estates with multiple parcels, the former Stryker properties were not bound by a “unity of title,” meaning they easily could be resold separately.

Wood, who made his fortune in the insurance industry, has owned a 1920s-era home at 113 Clarke Ave. since 2007, property records show.

 

Source: Darrell Hofheinz, October 23, 2014, Palm Beach Daily News

 

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