Real estate: Developer McKinney gets $10.1M for ‘spec’ house south of Palm Beach

Developer Frank McKinney, known for flamboyantly promoting houses he has developed on speculation, has sold his latest oceanfront project for a recorded $10.1 million.

The house at 3492 S. Ocean Blvd. stands in a residential enclave immediately south of Palm Beach. It faces about 90 feet of beachfront.

Banker Vernon W. Hill II and his wife, Shirley, bought the never-lived-in, contemporary-style house in South Palm Beach, the deed shows. Vernon Hill is chairman of Philadelphia-based Republic First Bancorp.

The house sold furnished, said Corcoran Group agent Steven Presson, who handled both sides of the deal.

With walls of glass facing the ocean, the five-bedroom, 7,850 square feet house stands on a site 20 feet above sea level. A three-story staircase accesses the rooftop terrace that rises more than 40 feet above the beach.

Next door to the La Bonne Vie Condominium complex in Palm Beach, the property abuts the town limits. On a lot measuring four-tenths of an acre, the house is one of four in a residential enclave surrounded by multi-family buildings.

Described by McKinney as “tropical modern” in design, the house’s high-end features include a kitchen countertop made of 11,000-year-old azure-blue lava; a sphere-shaped, lighted-from-within aquarium filled with swimming jellyfish in the living room; a 1,270-square-foot oceanfront master suite; and a beachfront pool.

The property la ded under contract June 12, according to the local multiple listing service, and the deal closed June 29. The deed was recorded July 2, courthouse records show.

Delray Beach-based McKinney, who was out of town Thursday, told the Daily News the house will be the final one of his nearly 30-year real estate career.

“We’re proud of the fact that we put 3492 S. Ocean under contract during the peak of the (coronvirus health crisis) at a very good price,” he said. “After many years of creating, then selling, oceanfront artistry, I’m ready to hop in my Yugo and ride off into the sunset,” he said.

When he unveiled the house at a private party in May 2019, he arrived by dropping to the roof from a helicopter and then spoke to the waiting crowd below.

Presson had marketed the house fully furnished, first at $17.5 million but most recently at $13.9 million The furnishings and interior finishes were chosen by McKinney’s decorator wife, Nilsa.

Presson declined to discuss the sale and declined comment on behalf of the buyers.

Frank McKinney worked closely on the design of the house with the Miami architectural firm of Choeff, Levy and Fishman.

“They were designing tropical stuff in Miami, and I really liked what they were doing. I asked them to scale down their much-larger designs to a usable size,” McKinney said in an interview last year with the Daily News.

He said he gave the designers diagrams and room descriptions. The idea he explained, was to have rooms flow seamlessly from one to the next in an open floor plan.

The house is one of four developer spec houses that have sold for more than $10 million in South Palm Beach and Palm Beach since the tail end of June. All three of the Palm Beach houses— at 101 Gulfstream Road, 251 Dunbar Road and 111 Atlantic Ave. — were completed this year.

A McKinney-controlled limited liability company, 3492 S. Ocean LLC, paid a recorded $3 million for the South Palm Beach property in November 2016, with Brown Harris Stevens agent Jennifer Spitznagel handling both sides of that deal.

“This is the most beautiful of the 44 projects I’ve done since 1992. I have never loved what I do more, but it’s time to redirect,” McKinney said last year.

McKinney, who has published several books, has been focusing attention on running his charitable foundation, Caring House Project, that builds “self-sufficient” villages to serve people in need in Haiti.

“I look forward to sharing what my ’reinvention’ looks like in the near future,” McKinney said Thursday. “This isn’t goodbye, just farewell.”

The developer marketed his first luxury “spec” mansion about two decades ago — a re-do of the Manalapan house once owned by the late National Enquirer publisher Generosa Pope and his widow, Lois Pope. In all, he’s built or renovated more than 40 projects, he said.