Neighbors now know what likely will be built on a lakeside lot that changed hands twice last year on the far North End of Palm Beach.
For decades, the half-acre lot at 1404 N. Lake Way was home to an outdated house built in 1950 that was razed after the last sale in late October for $8.9 million.
The property is owned by a Delaware-registered limited liability company named after the property’s address. But because of Delaware’s strict privacy laws, it’s unclear whether the ownership is affiliated with a real estate developer, who might build the house on speculation, or a private owner who plans to construct a custom home.
In any case, the Architectural Commission at its most recent meeting gave its blessing to plans for a 9,263-square-foot, two-story house with traditional-style architecture to rise on the property. The house would face 110 feet of waterfront.
The previous house measured 4,893 square feet.
Last month, architect Harold Smith of Smith and Moore Architects presented the board revised plans for the new six-bedroom house. In December, commissioners issued him a list of requested revisions to the house, which they had criticized as too plain.
They also directed Smith to reduce the appearance of the so-called “massing” so that the house wouldn’t appear to overwhelm the site.
Smith did just that, he told commissioners Jan. 23. He had shrunk the house by 450 square feet and brought the peak of the roof down by a foot.
“We’re basically in conformity with the massing of most of the properties on the waterfront,” Smith said. “We just trimmed the square footage from all parts of the house.”
Other changes included centering the front driveway by moving it from the south side of the property. That change allowed him to narrow the garage and move it to the north, Smith explained.
Smith also gave more detail to the streetside façade by adding mullions and shutters to the windows, reducing the amount of stone cladding on the building and lightening the look of metal railings.
Smith also discarded a bulky stone-clad feature that defined the front entrance, replacing it with a more traditional-style portico with columns.
“We believe the house has a feel that’s more in character with the North End now,” Smith said.
Commissioner Maisie Grace liked the revisions and the “more traditional” appearance on the front. But she said the house still appeared too large for its lot and ended up voting against the project, joining Commissioner John David Corey, in the 5-2 vote. Grace also cast the lone vote against endorsing a “special exception” to the town’s code to allow the project to proceed.
“I think you could easily take a foot off this house without losing anything,” Grace said. “It wouldn’t negatively impact your structure.”
Commissioner Robert N. Garrison, however, was pleased with Smith’s changes and said it would be a welcome addition to the neighborhood.
“It’s an elegant house,” Garrison said. “And I think that’s a word we should use more often.”
And although Chairman Bob Vila voted for the project, he did voice some concern that the house’s predominantly neutral color scheme lacked “happiness and cheeriness” and was “a missed opportunity.”
Vila compared Smith’s design to the Mediterranean-style house that had stood for decades on the lot, which he said had a more welcoming look.
“We’re becoming a very buttoned-down town,” Vila said.
Garrison then suggested that the proposed colors for the exterior walls be swapped with the window and door details. He suggested that the walls instead be painted pale peach, and Vila agreed that the change would add “life.”
Smith concurred with the proposed change.
Nearby neighbor Anne Metzger was pleased, overall, with the redesign, although she still wanted Smith to reduce the scale.
“We’re delighted with many of the changes,” she said. “It’s much more attractive for the North End.”
Commissioners also approved, with minor changes, the landscaping plan proposed by Keith Williams of Nievera Williams Design.
Via a deed recorded April, the property’s longtime owners, Anita and Dr. Robert J. Lorello, privately sold their four-bedroom house for a recorded $8.25 million to a real estate investment group with Palm Beach ties. The group comprised Chicago real estate developer and investor Fred Latsko, businessman Suren Hovsepian and West Palm Beach resident Melvin Kaftan, according to state business records.
Five months later, the house changed hands again, property records show. Corcoran Group real estate agent Suzanne Frisbie by that point had the listing. Agent Christopher Deitz of The Fite Group–William Raveis Real Estate handled the buyer’s end of the sale.
The Lorellos’ house was designed by a noted society architect, the late John L. Volk, according to MLS records, but it had been extensively renovated over the years. The house was in “sad condition,” Smith told the architectural board last fall when he requested the demolition permit.