Builder buys Bonnette Hunt Club, to put up 28 houses

Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post

The Bonnette Hunt Club in Palm Beach Gardens once counted among its regulars Burt Reynolds, Bing Crosby, Jack Nicklaus, King Hussein, Lawton Chiles and Claude Kirk Jr.

Now the iconic site will give way to 28 new homes. Parkwood Distinctive Homes this month paid $2.55 million for the property at 5307 and 5309 Hood Road, said Lynn B. Telling of Illustrated Properties.

The 2,400-square-foot homes will be at $500,000 and $800,000, said Telling, who brokered the deal for the seven-acre property.

Troubled “Tesla of fertilizer” disappears, fails to open huge plant in Clewiston

The erstwhile “Tesla of fertilizer” is no more. BioNitrogen Holdings, a company once headquartered in West Palm Beach and once headed by a Palm Beach entrepreneur, failed to emerge from bankruptcy.

The company filed for Chapter 11 in late 2015, and a monthslong marketing process yielded just one interested buyer of its assets, according to court documents.

Back in early 2015, entrepreneur Bryan Kornegay touted big plans for turning tree trimmings into fertilizer. He aimed to build a $300 million plant in job-starved Clewiston, and another $300 million factory in Taylor County in North Florida.

Kornegay, a former private equity executive who lives in Palm Beach, pitched his process as a pollution-free way to transform landscaping waste into feed for sugar fields, citrus groves and golf courses.

“We’re the Tesla of fertilizer,” Kornegay said in an interview, referring to the maker of electric cars.

(Note to investors, lenders and economic developers: Beware of snazzy start-ups that sum up their business models by name-dropping another hot company. DayJet, the Boca Raton company that met the same fate as BioNitrogen, once called itself “Tivo for travel.”)

Despite the tall talk, Kornegay’s company had no revenue, and it faced a lawsuit from a Canadian company that said BioNitrogen failed to repay an $845,000 loan with a hefty interest rate of 30 percent.

BioNitrogen later moved to Miami, and Kornegay left the company.



Frank McCourt sells property across the street from Bill Gates’ properties in Wellington’s horse country

Former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt just sold a nine-acre parcel in Wellington for $12 million, according to property records.

The deed identifies the buyer as Elite Equestrian Estates LLC of New Haven, Connecticut. The deal includes a seven-acre property at 13700 Quarter Horse Trail and two acres at 13664 Quarter Horse Trail, both in Wellington’s Mallet Hill neighborhood.

While the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser shows buildings on one of the parcels, the sites were marketed as vacant land. The land is just south of Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates’ assemblage of properties. Gates has spent $27 million on Wellington real estate in recent years.

Feeling richer? Florida ranks No. 4 in personal income growth

(Getty Images)

Personal incomes in Florida grew by 1.3 percent from the fourth quarter of 2016 to the first quarter of this year, the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis said Tuesday.

That was the fourth-fastest pace in the nation. Florida posted a tepid 0.1 percent growth in income from the third quarter to the fourth quarter.

Idaho’s 1.6 percent growth led all states. Nebraska’s 0.1 percent decline ranked last.

See how much financier paid for oceanfront mansion in Lost Tree Village

Wisconsin financier Andrew Ziegler just dropped $22 million on a 14,565-square-foot mansion at 11870 Turtle Beach Road in unincorporated Palm Beach County, according to property records.

The oceanfront spread in Lost Tree Village last sold in 2003 for $11.3 million. The seller is Desmo Realties of Montreal.

Neighbors include Wall Street billionaire Kenneth Langone, beer billionaire Jude Reyes and coal billionaire Chris Cline.

Ziegler, 59, was the co-founder and managing partner of Artisan Partners, an investment firm with $100 billion under management. He retired in 2014. Ziegler also owns a 13,658-square-foot spread in Wellington, which is on the market for $16.5 million.

His nearly 3.5 million shares in Artisan Partners Asset Management (NYSE: APAM) are worth about $100 million.

Six agents make Palm Beach County’s $100 million club

Paulette Koch, one of Palm Beach County’s $100 million producers in 2016, sold this manse for $12.5 million (Andy Frame/The Corcoran Group)

Despite a slowdown in Palm Beach County mansion sales in 2016, six agents reported sales of $100 million or more for the year, according to an annual RealTRENDS/Wall Street Journal ranking.

The county’s top producer was Pascal Liguori of Premier Estate Properties in Delray Beach. He did deals totaling $224.8 million last year, up sharply from his $81.2 million total in 2015.

Liguori ranked 20th nationally in sales volume. Palm Beach County’s other five members of the $100 million club, and their national ranks:

  • 29. Paulette Koch, The Corcoran Group, Palm Beach: $185.6 million
  • 30. David Roberts, Royal Palm Properties, Boca Raton: $180.6 million
  • 43. Suzanne Frisbie, The Corcoran Group, Palm Beach: $155.1 million
  • 59. Christian Angle, Christian Angle Real Estate, Palm Beach: $134.1 million
  • 60. Carol Sollak, Engel & Volkers Wellington, Wellington: $134 million

Liguori topped the list despite missing out on one prize: He didn’t sell the Ziff estate in Manalapan, which he listed for an eye-popping $195 million. (A deal at that price would have yielded a $3.4 million fee for a buyer’s agent and an undisclosed sum for the listing agent.) The seller briefly took the mansion off the market this year, then relisted it with another agent for $165 million.

Blast from the past: Office Depot brings back “Taking Care of Business” as theme song $ODP

Office Depot store in Royal Palm Beach

Office Depot has revived the 1974 hit “Taking Care of Business” as its theme song, making the classic-rock standard a centerpiece of its new national ad campaign.

“‘Taking Care of Business’ was instantly recognizable by all of our customer segments and gave us distinct brand differentiation,” Diane Nick, senior vice president of marketing for Office Depot, said in a statement Monday.


Office Depot built by one innovation, brought down by another

Soft lighting, sleek signs: Is this Office Depot’s new format?

Boca Raton-based Office Depot tested the Bachman-Turner Overdrive song in a 2,000-person survey and found even college students consider the tune “fresh” and “innovative,” Nick said. Office Depot designed the campaign with Zimmerman Advertising of Fort Lauderdale, which took over as the retailer’s ad agency in March.

Office Depot has used “Taking Care of Business” off and on for years, most recently in 2011.

Office Depot first used “Taking Care of Business” in the 1990s, when the retailer was on a roll. Back then, big-box office supplies stores were driving mom-and-pop shops out of business and elbowing their way onto the Fortune 500. Staples ponied up for naming rights to the Los Angeles Lakers’ arena. Office Depot featured comic strip character Dilbert in ads, turned the Florida Marlins’ foul poles into giant pencils and put its logo on a car that competed in the Daytona 500.

However, amid shrinking demand for pens, pencils and printer paper and increased competition from Wal-Mart and Amazon, the once-growing chains have fallen on hard times. A federal judge last year rejected the proposed merger of Staples and Office Depot (Nasdaq: ODP), leaving the two struggling companies to figure out a Plan B. Office Depot has been working on its “store of the future,” a 15,000-square-foot format that offers services such as smartphone repair.



U.S. home prices hit a record — and Realtors’ chief economist calls boom “unsustainable”

The last time real estate prices were in record territory, the National Association of Realtors‘ most visible spokesman was an unabashed cheerleader. But during the latest record run, NAR’s new chief economist is calling the boom “unsustainable.”

What a difference a decade makes. During the boom, NAR’s top dismal scientist was David Lereah, author of the unfortunately titled book Why the Real Estate Boom Will Not Bust, published in 2005.

RELATED: Palm Beach County home prices hit new post-crash high

During a 2006 visit to West Palm Beach, Lereah spoke to Realtors and pointedly bashed the media for reporting signs of a slowdown.

“Is this a bad year? Yes. Your numbers will be down,” Lereah said. “Are you going to bust? No.”

After a painful and massive bust, Lereah is out, and he has been replaced at NAR by Lawrence Yun, who takes a decidedly more cautious approach. In Wednesday’s monthly housing report, Yun noted that the median home price hit a new record of $252,800 — and he then promptly downplayed the potential for further price increases.

“Home prices keep chugging along at a pace that is not sustainable in the long run,” Yun said in a news release.

Price appreciation is outpacing income growth by an unhealthy margin, Yun has warned.


Did firm that designed WPB office tower steal design on Freedom Tower?

The architecture firm that designed a proposed 25-story office tower on the waterfront in West Palm Beach frequently is lauded as the designer of the Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center in New York.

Now Georgia architect Jeehoon Park has sued the Skidmore, Owings & Merrill architecture firm, claiming it stole the One World Trade Center design from his master’s thesis.

The lawsuit was filed June 14 in U.S. District Court in New York.

Skidmore Owings is the same firm hired by New York’s The Related Cos. to design One Flagler, an office tower proposed on land next to the First Church of Christ, Scientist.

NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 20: One World Trade stands at ground zero in Manhattan on March 20, 2017 in New York City. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has been voicing criticism of President Donald Trump’s proposed budget that could cut as much as $190 million from New York City efforts to fight terrorism. Following two major terrorist attacks and numerous foiled plots, New York City is considered the nation’s prime target for terrorists. The NYPD has stated that it costs $500,000 a day to pay for the nearly 200 police officers in and around Trump Tower on Fifth Ave. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The land is zoned for only five stories, but Related wants to build 25 stories on the site, at Flagler Drive and Lake­view Avenue.

Some city residents, many of whom live downtown, don’t like the tower proposal. They say the tower is too tall, will worsen traffic, will block some of their views and will forever ruin the city’s waterfront.

But Related and its team have staged numerous city and community meetings to showcase the project and its benefits to the community. They say the deal will give the church money to preserve its 1928 building, plus create new space for companies seeking to relocate to the city.

During these presentations, the tower’s architect, David Childs, is extolled, his work as the architect for the Freedom Tower figuring prominently into the discussions.

In fact, Childs himself appeared before the Economic Forum business group in February to discuss Related’s office tower. “This is a special project,” Childs said. He stressed that he took care to design a building that would stand beside the church and “waltz together.”

In his lawsuit, Park said Skidmore, Owens violated his copyright on a design developed for his master’s thesis.  An associate partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill was one of Park’s thesis advisors, according to the complaint.

Neither Childs nor the associate partner is named in the complaint.

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill was dismissive of the lawsuit, which it noted was filed 12 years after the design and four years after the building’s construction.  “This lawsuit feels like an attempt to get attention or money, and we are certain this claim will be found to be baseless,” a firm spokeswoman told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.

A Park lawyer has said his client only recently became aware of his legal rights.


Political rise spurs sales of Donald Trump’s Art of the Deal, but other titles languish

President Donald Trump‘s political rise has sparked sales for his two big hits as an author, The Art of the Deal (published in 1987) and Time to Get Tough (2011).

As of July 15, 2015, Trump reported less than $50,000 in royalties for The Art of the Deal and less than $100,000 for Time to Get Tough. In the latest disclosure, dated June 14, 2017, Trump reports royalties of up to $1 million apiece for those two books.

In other words, over the past two years, Trump made as much as $950,000 in royalties for The Art of the Deal, and as much as $900,000 from Time to Get Tough.

Authors are known for making very little money from their books, and even the world’s most visible man seems not to be raking it in from sales of many of his tomes. Fully 10 titles authored by Trump have generated less than $200 apiece in royalty income for the prolific author, according to a new financial disclosure Trump filed with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics.

Trump reports royalty income of less than $201 from the following titles:

  • Think Like a Billionaire (2004)
  • The Art of the Comeback (1997)
  • Why We Want You to Be Rich (2006)
  • Trump 101: The Way to Success (2007)
  • The America We Deserve (2000)
  • Never Give Up (2008)
  • The Best Real Estate Advice I Ever Received (2005)
  • The Way to the Top (2004)
  • Think Big and Kick Ass (2007)
  • Trump: Surviving at the Top (1990)

The precise dates covered by the report are unclear, but the disclosure appears to tally cumulative income over the past half-decade or longer.

Two other titles — The Midas Touch and How to Get Rich — have totaled between $5,000 and $15,000 in royalties. Another, Think Like a Champion, has brought in between $15,000 and $50,000.