SOOTHING OCEAN BREEZES are what attracted well-heeled captains of industry to Newport to build their immense summer “cottages,” which remain the signature of this exclusive Rhode Island oceanfront community. The area today is a treasure trove of the work of some of the finest architects this country has produced.
One of the most prominent on the market today is Fairholme, situated along the famed cliff walk at 327 Ruggles Avenue. Priced at $18 million, the 20,252-square-foot, seven-bedroom, 11-bathroom estate – an 1875 Tudor masterpiece designed by Frank Furness – boasts an astounding 425 feet of ocean frontage along its 4.3 acre grounds, which include a six-bedroom carriage house, three interconnected greenhouses and a 37-foot-by-71-foot infinity edge swimming pool as the centerpiece of an outdoor living area with a retractable glass wall pavilion overlooking the Atlantic.
“We showed it to a couple from the Hamptons and asked what this property would sell for there and the answer was $50 million, but you couldn’t find it because there are no famous historical architects like you have in Newport,” remembered Melanie Delman, president and broker of Lila Delman Real Estate. “Fortunately, Newport hasn’t had the run-up in pricing that other destinations have had, and is still relatively undiscovered. The luxury marketplace is a place where people with the resources can negotiate and find great properties in move-in condition at great prices like this.”
Vanderbilt International Properties, helmed by Peter de Savary – an international entrepreneur, yachtsman and philanthropist with properties in England, France, Jamaica and Grenada – has developed some of the world’s most successful real estate endeavors. Now de Savary is investing heavily in Newport. The 16 properties that make up Vanderbilt Residences were officially launched in June after undergoing extensive interior and exterior renovations. Located on Brown & Howard Wharf on Newport’s waterfront the residences start at $2.75 million and range from 1,300 square feet to 3,121 square feet for the two penthouses, each of which include expansive 1,000-square-foot rooftop terraces.
“With the Vanderbilt Residences, I intend to offer a unique lifestyle in what is set to become a most outstanding, exclusive and private maritime haven and marina,” said de Savary. “Newport has a cosmopolitan feel that attracts people from allover the world. It’s very easy living, and I think that’s attractive to people who have second and third homes.”
Although not strictly a waterfront property, The Highland Club on the North Fork of Long Island is a mile away from Long Island Sound to the north and the Peconic Bay to the south – and Long Island’s south shore at Westhampton is 15 minutes away. “The Highlands at Aquebogue and The Highlands at Reeves are homeowners’ association communities of single-family homes, not condos,” explained Jack O’Donnell, president of NuVu Realty, the exclusive broker for The Highlands Club. “The advantage is that homeowners don’t need to bother with lawn care or snow removal, and the community has its own clubhouse with pool and water features throughout. We are the furthest community to the east on the North Fork of Long Island – and there is nothing like it in this area.”
The Highland Club is also a sound investment, said O’Donnell. “Most people buying second, third and fourth homes will not buy anything that is not right in terms of value,” he said, pointing out that custom-built homes in the development start at $500,000. “We just had a resale in the community that sold for more than the purchase price in 2006 – which is unheard of these days. The sellers in this case aren’t leaving the community; they are building another home right here. That tells you about the value of this community.”
Few waterfront opportunities are as attractive as owning your own island. Nautilus Island, a 38-acre private island five minutes off the coast of Maine in Penobscot Bay, was the site of the United States’ first successful marine landing, led by Paul Revere during the Revolutionary War. The structures on the island, which include a five-bedroom main residence with stone piazza and pool, a three-bedroom farmhouse overlooking a vineyard, a guest cottage, a sugar house and a boathouse that has been converted into a bar and commercial kitchen, were all completely renovated when a new owner took control of the island four years ago. The asking price for the entire island is $10,600,000.
“An island buyer is a special type of person,” said John Saint-Amour, the listing agent for the property and senior project manger for LandVest. “Kingdom is an exaggeration, but to own your entire island that in this case is turnkey, ready to go – with easy access to the mainland – is a very special opportunity. Once you are on the island, which is largely self-sufficient, you are in your own world.”
Two special waterfront properties are on the market on Byram Shore Road in Greenwich, Conn. The first, at 81 Byram Shore Road, is actually two adjacent lots – one with a 6,240-square-foot house on it and the other with 167 feet of direct waterfront with a dock, gazebo, a two-ton mooring and a variance to build an even larger 8,000-square-foot home. Sold separately, the lot with the home goes for $5.5 million, while the lot with the ocean frontage goes for $9 million. Together, the two properties are on sale for $14 million.
One strategy, said Bryan Dinkelacker, managing broker/owner with Engel & Volkers in Greenwich, is to buy both properties, and live in the existing house on the first while building a dream house on the second. “The house already has many desirable features, including a pool that was put in a few years ago, with spa, an 8,000-square-foot European-style wine cellar, and a chip and putt golfing area with four tee boxes, a green with a flag and sand bunkers. A buyer could build a new structure and sell the old one, or renovate and keep the existing structure as a guest house.”
Down the block, at 215 Byram Shore Road, is a 10,000-square-foot waterfront home on a two-acre lot with sweeping lawns that slope down to 275 feet of direct waterfront and all-encompassing views of Long Island Sound. The estate was originally built in 1995 but extensively remodeled by Greenwich-based architect Kelly Faloon in recent years. This listing is new and, according to Candy Durniak, listing broker with Greenwich Fine Properties, is priced to sell at $16,750,000. “All the public rooms on the first floor – the conservatory, the library, dining room, living room, kitchen – have access to a lovely flagstone patio via large French doors with ocean views. The master bedroom upstairs also opens to a lovely balcony with more views, and the other four bedrooms also enjoy the views. All the rooms for that matter take advantage of the views. It is quite extraordinary.”
Another spectacular, newly constructed home full of windows on the Sound, this one at 247 Davenport Drive in Stamford, comes with state-of-the-art technology and wonderful views of Half Moon Bay. The price is $4,995,000 – down $1 million from late last year –and the property will rent for $15,000 a month. “At a place like this,” said Elayne Jassey, realtor with Prudential Connecticut Realty in Stamford, “you really can vacation at home with your own beach, and live in brand-new, unlived-in splendor.”
Jassey is also marketing 127 Dolphin Cove Quay, which is part of the Dolphin Cove waterfront community in Stamford. The 2,964-square-foot home has its own dock and even its own boat lift that can hoist a vessel of up to 60 feet in length. The community offers its own private pool, beach, tennis court and clubhouse nearby.
Florida offers some of the best beachfront estate properties, many of them competitively priced. 612 South Casey Key is located on an eight-mile barrier island with no traffic lights about 15 miles south of Sarasota. A winner of several prestigious architectural awards, the dramatically contemporary home has two pavilions with floor-to-ceiling glass for unobstructed views of the Gulf of Mexico. The home comes complete with a five-car garage, 60-foot saltwater lap pool with auto cover and all the latest technology from Lutron and Creston. The asking price of $6,995,000 (down from $9,559,000 last fall) would barely cover construction expenses today, said Deborah Beacham, realtor and listing agent with Michael Saunders & Company. “The target buyer is someone who appreciates art in architecture – and a good price.”
Delray Beach, located on Florida’s Atlantic coast between Boca Raton and Palm Beach, has acquired its own reputation as an artistic oasis. 1171 South Ocean Boulevard is a U-shaped home with two wings – one public and the other private – surrounding an elegant pool designed for entertaining. Recently remodeled with faux finishes and cypress veneers, Venetian plaster walls and both cathedral and barrel-vaulted ceilings, the home is both classic and chic, said Candace Friis, a broker associate at The Corcoran Group. “There are only a handful of direct oceanfront properties in Delray Beach,” she added, “and this is one of the finest.” The asking price is $12,250,000.
Built in 1928, a Spanish/Mediterranean-style three-story estate along Palm Beach’s north end has also been completely remodeled over the past several years. Even entire trees were brought in, along with a new 18th-century fireplace from Provence. The six-bedroom, six-bathroom home is currently on the market for $10 million. “This house is one of the very few older estates located on the north part of the island,” said Carole Koeppel, senior vice president and broker associate with Sotheby’s International Realty. “There are fewer major homes of this age in this location that have, been remodeled this meticulously. Everything came from the best, and often exotic sources – and somehow, it all works beautifully.”