De­vel­oper hopes area will ri­val Palm Beach

Palm Beach Daily News - - TODAY - By ALEXAN­DRA CLOUGH

Lux­ury homes de­fine the life­style of Palm Beach. But land prices are high and wa­ter­front homes are scarce, with some cost­ing $30 mil­lion or more for new con­struc­tion.

Now comes a de­vel­oper who pro­poses an al­ter­na­tive: a new wa­ter­front man­sion that’s move-in ready and half the price — on the other side of the bridge.

De­vel­oper Steve Ben­dat is putting the fin­ish­ing touches on a new spec home on the In­tra­coastal Wa­ter­way at 2914 Wash­ing­ton Road in West Palm Beach. The ask­ing price is $13.5 mil­lion.

The as­ton­ish­ing price tag is about three times what even the toni­est homes have sold for in this once-sleepy en­clave, south of Okee­chobee Boule­vard and east of Dixie High­way. The homes in and around the El Cid and Prospect Park neigh­bor­hoods fea­ture a num­ber of real es­tate gems. Dur­ing the past four years, th­ese neigh­bor­hoods have seen an in­crease in the num­ber of buy­ers who are pay­ing big money to buy and im­prove his­toric homes, or de­mol­ish non­his­toric prop­er­ties to build some­thing new.

Ben­dat, of the Aquan­tis Group, is op­ti­mistic his six-bed­room, 9½-bath­room lux­ury home on Wash­ing­ton Road will stand up to even the most up­scale Palm Beach prop­er­ties.

“We have bet­ter qual­ity features and bet­ter views” than homes sim­i­larly priced on the is­land, Ben­dat said. “We can com­pete on any level with any lux­ury es­tate on Palm Beach.”

He’s par­tic­u­larly hop­ing to at­tract the at­ten­tion of hedge fund and pri­vate eq­uity ex­ec­u­tives open­ing of­fices in West Palm Beach, an in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar refuge for firms flee­ing high-tax states in the North­east.

The Wash­ing­ton Road man­sion buyer “could be a guy from New York or Bos­ton,” Ben­dat said. “It’s some­one who likes a boat and wants to buy a life­style.”

Build­ing ul­tra-lux­ury res­i­dences in West Palm Beach isn’t so far-fetched, some real es­tate agents say. In fact, it could be the next trend.

The con­struc­tion of the Bris­tol, the most ex­pen­sive con­do­minium ever built in Palm Beach County, has kicked off an in­creas­ing in­ter­est in the city by peo­ple who could af­ford Palm Beach but, for var­i­ous rea­sons, are choos­ing West Palm Beach in­stead.

This in­cludes a num­ber of Palm Beach res­i­dents, in­clud­ing phi­lan­thropist Sy­dell Miller, who bought an en­tire floor for a ru­mored $40 mil­lion at the 1112 S. Fla­gler Drive con­do­minium. Other units in the Bris­tol av­er­age about $10 mil­lion each, and bro­kers say about half of the West Palm Beach tower’s sales are from Palm Beach res­i­dents.

“The re­al­ity is th­ese two com­mu­ni­ties are go­ing to merge and blend. You’ll see it more and more. This is the be­gin­ning,” said Burt Minkoff, a sales as­so­ciate with the Cor­co­ran Group in Palm Beach.

It’s cer­tainly what Ben­dat hoped for when he paid $2.8 mil­lion for the 2914 Wash­ing­ton Road prop­erty in 2015. He de­mol­ished the house on it, then spent two years and

Meghan Mc­Carthy / Daily News Pho­tos

Fite Group as­so­ciate Les­lie Holvey sensed

the area’s po­ten­tial and con­vinced Ben­dat to go on a min­ish­op­ping spree and snap up five

homes ei­ther on or fac­ing the


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