Published: Saturday, March 26, 2016 @ 8:25 PM
Updated: Sunday, March 27, 2016 @ 1:08 PM
By: Darrell Hofheinz - Palm Beach Daily News
An oceanfront mansion Donald Trump sold to a Russian billionaire for $95 million in 2008 is going to be torn down.
The demolition of the estate, which was the largest single residential sale ever in Palm Beach, Florida, was approved this week.
Long before he became the 2016 Republican presidential front-runner, Trump purchased the mansion in 2004 at a foreclosure auction for $41.4 million. He then renovated the property before selling it to fertilizer mogul Dmitry Rybolovlev in July 2008, five months before the Great Recession hit Palm Beach.
The Architectural Commission green-lighted the demolition in a 4-3 vote.
Commissioners were not given specifics about what is being planned at the property, which measures 6 acres with 475 feet of oceanfront views.
But sources familiar with the estate told Palm Beach Daily News that it may be subdivided and redeveloped into two or three houses.
The main house encompasses about 62,000 square feet. Outbuildings bring the total square footage to 81,738, according to property records.
Landscape architect Lynn Bender told the board that once the demolition was complete, the lot would be resodded until plans for it were finalized. Only the perimeter walls, fences, access gates, columns and small portion of main entry driveway will be retained. A fountain at the main entrance also will be removed.
Over the past several years, the estate was among the disputed assets in contentious divorce proceedings, stemming from 2009, between Rybolovlev and his ex-wife, Elena. Last June, a Swiss judge reduced her $4.8 billion payout to about $604 million, but the couple reportedly settled for an undisclosed amount said to be close to $1 billion. Details were also not disclosed about whether ownership of the house had changed.
Commissioners discussed the project for about 25 minutes Wednesday. Newly-elected chairman Richard Sammons recused himself from the agenda item because of conflict, although he did not provide specifics as to why.
Anthony Mauro, of Mauro Brothers LLC, spoke on behalf of the owner’s representatives at the meeting.
A carriage house built in the 1930s is the oldest building on the property. The French provincial-style main house, finished by Gosman in 1988, has one story and a basement. “The house is in relatively good shape,” Mauro said.
Commissioner Michael Small said he was given a tour. “It truly is an exquisite property,” he said.
Mauro said there are a number of people interested in buying it.
Vice Chairwoman Ann Vanneck voted against the demolition. After the vote she explained that in demolition cases, commissioners usually are given an itemized list of trees that will be affected by the demolition with corresponding photos. Applicants typically include a notation for each plant listed as to whether plans call for it will be left in place, relocated or removed.