These Ultraluxury Trophy Properties Offer Unique Value And Prestige

From a Florida private island to a 20,000-square-foot Hamptons home, one-of-a-kind residences are also strong investments

All photos courtesy of Sotheby's International Realty.

All photos courtesy of Sotheby's International Realty.

Although 2020 has brought more than its share of uncertainty, ultraluxury real estate is as solid an investment as ever. 

Blue-chip properties are not only a great way to diversify a family’s financial portfolio, they also offer benefits other assets just can’t match, according to Scott Bennett, Senior Vice President at Wells Fargo Real Estate Asset Management in New York City. 

“It is a tangible asset,” he says. “Real estate can provide the type of lifestyle people are looking for, as well as pride of ownership…[a home] can be a cherished source of personal pleasure for families, which is unique for an investment type.” 

Whether it’s a rare oceanfront property or a penthouse in a landmarked tower, the right real estate investment is also an opportunity for tax benefits, predictable form of income from seasonal rentals, and, of course, price appreciation.  

Choosing a location with a proven track record is key to making the right investment, Bennett explains. That includes areas such as the Hamptons, in New York, where generations of wealthy families have vacation homes, or low-tax states like Florida.  

In addition, many urban markets, including New York City, offer “compelling buying opportunities,” he says.  

Although there is a lot of luxury supply to choose from in New York City right now, one-of-a-kind properties at exclusive developments stand out. That’s especially true in historic buildings with architecture that cannot be replicated now.  

Elsewhere, rare properties with developable land offer even more incentives, especially in areas that have a finite amount of land. 

“There’s a scarcity value,” says Ellen Stern, a New York-based broker with William Pitt/Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty specializing in waterfront listings. “Developers and end users are anxiously looking for other properties to develop.” 

Sotheby’s International Realty, one of the world’s leading brokerages, is currently offering a number of opportunities for elite properties throughout the U.S.  

Here are four estates that provide a luxurious lifestyle and residence, while still adding a powerful asset to any portfolio:

90 Jule Pond Drive, Southampton, N.Y., Price Upon Request 

Ellen Stern has assisted some of New York’s top clientele in purchasing New York waterfronts coming from the city during the Covid-19 pandemic. These elite buyers—and celebrity renters—are looking for exclusive properties with an unmatched standard of luxury.  

90 Jule Pond Drive encompasses 42 acres on the Atlantic Ocean and Mecox Bay. The property boasts the largest ocean frontage in the Hamptons and a 20,000-square-foot luxury residence. 

“It’s slightly under a quarter of a mile,” Ellen says. “The estate abuts protected and unbuildable land to the southeast, which adds another quarter of a mile. There is no other place where you’ll have half a mile of unobstructed ocean frontage.” 

Henry Ford II originally built the residence in the 1960s. In 2008, this home was meticulously renovated to preserve its classic details, such as the grand staircase in the foyer, imported Italian marble fireplaces, and French parquet floors. 10,000 square feet were added to the property which now boasts 12 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms, as well as a gourmet kitchen that is adjacent to a sun-filled family room, a game room, and a children’s playroom. There are also several entertaining spaces offering views of the dunes and the water beyond. 

Additionally, there’s a carriage house, a six-car solar-powered garage, tennis and basketball courts, and a 60-foot gunite pool with spa and lounge area, offering resort-like recreation enclosed in a gated community.  

Ellen says, “Southampton offers easy access to the city by car or there’s a helipad just 10 minutes from the estate.” 

There is also a chance to subdivide the 42-acre property. Developable oceanfront property in the Hamptons is scarce and an investor could sell part of the estate to make room for new homes. Ellen also says, “You could monetize the land around you and still maintain that privacy.” 

Regardless of a buyer’s plans, it’s a solid investment in one of the country’s most desirable markets.  

“The intrinsic value is the oceanfront land,” Ellen says.

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The Pinnacle Penthouse at the Woolworth Tower Residences, New York City, $79 million 

The Woolworth Building is one of the most architecturally significant towers in the world. The 9,680-square-foot Pinnacle Penthouse is a chance to own its crown.  

“Being at the top of the pinnacle, and walking what used to be a public observatory, absolutely takes your breath away with the 360-degree views of the city,” says Sotheby’s International Realty agent Stan Ponte, who shares the listing with Joshua Judge of Sotheby’s International Realty.  

When it was completed in 1913, the Lower Manhattan tower was the tallest skyscraper in the world. Now, the former headquarters of the five-and-dime store chain F. W. Woolworth Co. has been painstakingly restored, from its famous terra-cotta facade to the gargoyles dotting the roof line.   

Alchemy Properties went “above and beyond” in the restoration and creation of the Woolworth Tower Residences, Ponte says. The New York-based developer partnered with French architect Thierry W Despont to celebrate the legacy of the landmark building while creating 32 bespoke residences with state-of-the-art amenities. 

“You walk up to the building and look up, you go, ‘wow,’” Judge explains. “You walk in the beautiful, discreet, elegant boutique lobby, you still go, ‘wow.’ It feels like a private club.” 

The building offers a 24-hour doorman, a full-time concierge, a 50-foot lap pool with spa and sauna, a fitness center, wine storage and tasting areas, and a lounge for residents named after the building’s original architect, Cass Gilbert.  

125 windows, many of which were added, as well as up to 24-foot ceilings, and a private in-residence elevator make guests and residents feel as if they are truly living on top of the city. And its views are protected, as the tower is adjacent to City Hall Park in Tribeca, Judge notes.  

The penthouse is fully customizable, and ready for a buyer to put his or her stamp on the space. Two predesigned layouts are available, a five-floor layout by Thierry W Despont and another by New York-based architect David Hotson that envisions a sixth story.  

“You have a sense that you don’t only own the interior, you don’t only have the ability to completely customize it, but you own the crown of architectural history,” Ponte explains. “That is what sets it apart from every other penthouse...this can’t be rebuilt. It is, in itself, a piece of art.” 

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Pumpkin Key, Key Largo, Fla., $95 million 

Everyone has fantasized about owning a private island, especially this year. Pumpkin Key offers a chance to own such a property in the tax-friendly state of Florida, complete with developable rights, a home on the mainland, and access to one of the country’s most exclusive communities, the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo. 

Pumpkin Key is a self-sufficient 26-acre island outfitted with water, electric, fiber optics, and golf cart paths encircling the property. It features a three-bedroom main house, two caretakers’ cottages, a tennis court that doubles as a helipad, and a 20-slip marina. 

The property also offers an opportunity to build new homes. 

“It has 12 bay-front lots around the perimeter that are approximately an acre each,” says listing broker Russell Post of Ocean Reef Club Sotheby’s International Realty, “all of which are developable and are not subject to any special island restrictions that exist throughout Florida. All of this has been grandfathered.” 

Post estimates those lots could eventually sell for $8 million to $15 million each.  

“There’s a lot of value there,” he adds. 

About five years ago, Pumpkin Key became part of Ocean Reef Club, which is less than five minutes away via private boat. On shore within the private gates of Ocean Reef Club, another three-bedroom house with golf course and marina view awaits, as well as all the world class amenities the private club community has to offer.  

“It’s a three-generational club,” Bill Henneberry Sr. of Ocean Reef Club Sotheby’s International Realty says. “It’s got its own everything: its own airport, its own marina, its own public safety and ambulance core...we even have our own movie theater and medical center. Plus, it’s only 15 minutes from North America’s only living coral barrier reef.” 

Other amenities include two championship golf courses, a tennis center, multiple shopping and dining options, an oceanfront inn, full-service spa and salon, an independent school serving PK3 through eighth grade, and a private 4,456-foot lighted runway. 

“There’s really nothing else like this or will ever be like this,” according to Henneberry. “We have an island off of one of the most exclusive clubs in the country, which is less than 10 minutes by helicopter to Miami, one of the great metropolitan centers. We’re not making any more of these islands.”  

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2000 S. Ocean Blvd, Manalapan, Fla., $115 million 

A 12-bedroom mansion, two four-bedroom waterfront cottages, a seven-bedroom home, and a complex with four separate studios await buyers on the 15-acre estate in Manalapan, a small town in Palm Beach County.  

The property, dubbed Gemini, lies between the Atlantic Ocean and Lake Worth, part of the Intracoastal Waterway. It has about 1,200 feet of frontage among the dunes on the ocean side, and another 1,300 feet on the opposite side, according to Sotheby’s International Realty agents Todd Peter and Cristina Condon, who are representing the estate. 

Gemini is the only oceanfront home for almost a mile, thus offering unrivaled privacy and the seclusion of a retreat. But it’s also a short drive to Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, where guests and residents can enjoy high-end dining and shopping.  

The main residence was rebuilt in 2002, and the mansion offers more than 62,000 square feet with palm tree-framed views of the ocean and intracoastal.  

Indoor-outdoor living is a key component of the design, which has numerous terraces, loggias, and outdoor lounge and dining areas. It also features formal living and dining rooms with views of the water, a wood-paneled library and office, a billiards room lined with shelves, and an oenophile-worthy wine cellar. 

All told, there are 33 bedrooms and seven kitchens across several buildings on the estate. 

That includes the seven-bedroom Mango House, as well as the cottages and suites.   

The extensive grounds include direct access to the water, a dock and a pier for fishing and water sports, a swimming pool with a lighted fountain, a fitness center and spa, a PGA standard golf area, a full-size tennis court, and a half basketball court. 

Botanical gardens on the property boast close to 1,500 tropical species to replicate a “walk through the Caribbean,” according to the listing.  

Subdivision has also been approved for the property, creating another opportunity for development and a healthy return on the initial investment. Or it could serve as a retreat for a multigenerational family.  

“The offering of this exclusive enclave affords a once-in-a-generation opportunity to acquire a family compound that simply cannot be replicated,” according to Sotheby’s International Realty.  

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