One may have predicted that COVID-19 would spur a wave of interest in Southwest Florida real estate, as people escaped the cities and searched for sunny climes. But few could have predicted just how much. Pending sales nearly doubled over 2019, and median prices jumped. Sought-after listings in premium locales led to a record-breaking $18.2 billion in residential sales in Collier County, (Lee County closed the year with $8.2 billion). Here are a few recent listings that mark the pinnacle of the market.
Many of the Spanish and Mediterranean Revival homes that punctuate Palm Beach were the brainchild of praised California-born architect Addison Mizner. Mizner carried his eye for opulent structural design to the Gulf in the 1920s, setting the tone for years to come. As the decades passed, many of these older estates were demolished. Only a handful remain, including the 1926 Mizner-designed estate at 670 Gulf Shore Blvd. S. in Port Royal that sold for $22.5 million in January.
Dante DiSabato, the agent representing the buyer and the seller, says the four-bedroom and five-bathroom home is his favorite in the city. Though it has undergone several remodels over the years, its exterior and several parts of the interior—like the Spanish tile inserts on the stairs—remain true to the original architecture. “I think everyone comes to Naples wanting new, but if you can find something historical that’s been updated, it has that charm,” DiSabato says.
A covered, open lounge area mirroring the pillared veranda runs the length of the lap pool outdoors, anchoring the home in the center of the 1.1-acre property, where manicured hedges border brick walkways and palms loom over courtyard fountains and pools. “Not a day goes by where you don’t see someone stop and take a photo of it,” DiSabato says of the landscaping.
Stylish Origins in Fort Myers
When Chico’s founders Marvin and Helene Gralnick were searching for a home in the late ’90s near the headquarters of their fashion company, which they started on Sanibel Island in 1983, they opted for a sprawling 35-acre estate in Fort Myers. The couple’s late friend and architect Joseph St. Cyr customized the blueprints for a modern, Florida cottage-style home on the gated lot. The winding, wooded drive and the lily pond affords the owners a secluded, rural feel, despite being close to town.
In 2019, they listed the property with Joan Crompton, of Coldwell Banker Realty, who notes that prospective buyers are enchanted by this quality.
Upon stepping inside, the space takes on a sudden urban aesthetic. An open area with bamboo flooring sets off the industrial details, like the kitchen’s stainless steel cabinets and floor, and the vaulted ceilings with skylights. A lifetime of international travel and appreciation for arts led the Gralnicks to accentuate each room with sculptural pieces and hand-crafted doors imported from around the world. Marvin, an artist himself, uses the studio to create expressive paintings akin to the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat. A warehouse-sized space with a loft toward the back of the home serves as a gallery and showroom.
The home isn’t only for artists—car enthusiasts will can store their babies in the four-stalled, air-conditioned garage that sits in the driveway. The garage includes a loft overhead, and glass doors to showcase each automobile—with roll-down shutters for extra security. Across from the garage, just steps from the main residence, is a two-bedroom, two-bathroom guest house. And, there’s room for others, too. The opposite end of the property includes the original art studio, duplex and another home.
Explaining why he chose the area, Marvin adds that it’s “close to Interstate 75 and 41 as well as all the area has to offer, but very much in a country setting. Modern, classic, simple, functional, elegant architecture never goes out of style.” The home was listed at $5.9 million as of early April.
One-in-a-Million in Marco
Jim Prange, the listing agent for Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, witnessed two phenomena over the last year: the lowest real estate inventory on Marco Island since he moved there in 1980 and the rapid sale of this home, or “castle” as he calls it. “Marco hasn’t had a custom home to that magnitude built for somebody,” Prange says. “The island needed it.” The home in question was built for a buyer who purchased an entire finger of Hideaway Beach, combined two lots at the tip and directed the three-year construction of a coastal contemporary abode suited exactly to his liking. Jutting out into Collier Bay, the 8,675-square-foot home has 469 feet of water frontage that “doesn’t restrict the kind of boat you have,” Prange notes. A wraparound lanai, with an infinity edge pool, spa and water features, overlooks the view. Around the front of the home, a soaring porte-cochère and a five-car garage ensures ample room for the finest rides; the interior accommodates all the guests. In addition to four en-suite bedrooms, there’s a master suite and kitchen on both the first and second floor for separate living spaces. Those seeking some extra privacy can stow away to the third floor, which includes a bonus sitting area and a terrace overlooking the water. Earthy shellstone tiles are a subtle nod to the surroundings while transferring the focus to the open living area on the ground floor. Just above, a large opening in the ceiling gives rise to views through the home up to the third floor, with a series of staircases looming overhead—just like a castle.
Contemporary Stunner in Naples
Builder London Bay Homes paired up with Kukk Architecture & Design and Romanza Interior Design to create this ultramodern estate on another desirable Port Royal plot at 700 Admiralty Parade West, looking out to Keewaydin Island. Inside, Romanza’s Michael Scott combined cream walls with blonde maple in the flooring, tray ceilings and range hood to unify the spaces and nod to the natural elements outside. He called in Soho Kitchens and Design to assemble Shaker-style cabinets along the kitchen wall and in the two islands to maximize storage space.
With five bedrooms, five full and two half bathrooms, plus an additional multipurpose room, the home needed to maintain its modern appeal without compromising on the comfortable atmosphere. To achieve this, the team dreamed up an abundance of long, vertical windows in nearly every room to pull in more sunlight and water views. Scott anchored the his-and-hers studies with elements like suede wallcovering and a leather chair to balance the lighter walls and trim. The bonus room was converted into an entertainment space, with a black, built-in media wall and a full bar.
The back patio—fully equipped with a kitchen, fire pit, infinity-edge pool and lounge areas—makes the transition to outdoor living simple (as do the pocket doors in the entertainment room and main living area). Add in the technological software that enables control of the interior lighting, shutters, shades and pool and landscape lighting, and it’s easy to see why this property fetched $18.5 million and several awards.