Tucked behind a navy blue Treasure Coast Sotheby’s “for sale” sign just south of The Dunes in South Beach is a gate that leads to an ultra-private, equestrian oceanfront retreat just waiting for a new owner, some horses and some tender loving care.
With grandfathered-in rights to keep horses in a residential neighborhood and a three-acre expanse of oceanfront land, this compound presents a truly unique project for a buyer searching for a distinctive residence or even for an investment in property to be subdivided in the future. “The big deal is an equestrian compound in the middle of all this development,” said broker-owner Michael Thorpe. “Nobody has any idea what’s back here behind the gate.”
Thorpe said the zoning density is three units per acre, which would permit a cozy wooded enclave of single-family homes to be constructed on the property.
“Whether they live here, or even if they look at it as an investment, to develop 10 or 20 years down the road into a subdivision,” Thorpe said. “It’s close to everything in the community, it’s close to amenities and it’s close to St. Edward’s School, but with a sense of ambiance and country living.”
Spanning 1,500 feet back to the sea grape-covered dune and sandy beach, the lushly landscaped estate invites the visitor in via a winding path through old oaks and palms, past horse paddocks and a path through the jungle leading to four stables and a utility building with kitchenette and bathroom.
The guesthouse appears first, built in 1949 with wood-paneled walls and hardwood floors. The two-bedroom cabana was the original house on the property before a larger, two-story main house was constructed in the 1980s closer to the beach.
Thorpe said there has been a trend of barrier island residents purchasing equestrian properties west of town in order to have the dual beachside and pastoral lifestyles. The property he has listed for sale serves both of those purposes in one parcel, complete with a loop of trails for riding and opportunities to ride horses on the beach.
“If he wants a beach house and she wants horses, this place can help them come together,” he said.
Thorpe’s business partner Kimberly Hardin said recent buyers have recognized the value and the nearly extinct nature of this plot of wooded oceanfront.
“We’ve had a flurry of activity and several offers,” Hardin said.
Thorpe said the sellers reduced the price from $7 million to $5 million when his brokerage took over the listing. For comparison, Thorpe said parcels of unimproved oceanfront property in the South Beach area are selling for $1.5 to $2 million for one-half acre of land. The lot boasts about 100 feet of oceanfront and then expands out to about 200 feet wide the closer you get to State Road A1A to accommodate a brisk walk or to exercise the horses.
The current owners carefully planned out the space to preserve the seclusion of the main residence and guest house while providing enough space to house and care for their horses. They constructed individual, large horse stalls and a few outbuildings for storage and convenience.
Should the new owners wish to hire someone to look after the grounds and the horses, there is plenty of space to erect another small residence for a caretaker’s quarters.
“You could keep or even board horses here,” Thorpe said.
After living on and keeping horses on the land for nearly eight years, the family who once occupied the compound relocated to a home they owned in South Florida after the 2004 hurricanes.
“They evacuated and there was some hurricane damage when they returned, they had some interests down south of here and decided to stay there,” Thorpe said.
Due to the hurricane damage, the property is being sold “as is.”
Despite the cracked windows, broken sliders and overgrown foliage, the lovely wood-planked ceilings in the main house and the hardwood floors in the guesthouse appear to be in good condition. The massive coquina rock fireplace in the main house graces the great room and a stone fireplace also makes the vintage guest house more homey and comfortable.
A spiral staircase in the main house closest to the ocean leads to a spacious loft and a catwalk that overlook the heart of the home – the living and dining area with panoramic views of the ocean from the second- floor perch. The kind of house that absolutely invites a party and a crowd of friends or family, the main residence has a large, unfinished kitchen with pantry that opens onto the great room.
A wraparound deck offers spectacular views of the ocean, but the home is set back a fair distance from the ocean with a buffer of native vegetation to provide some shelter for the wood-frame building.
Near the guesthouse is a pool with separate spa and a small fishpond. Adjacent to the pool is a covered, screened cabana perfect for daytime or nighttime entertaining.
The guesthouse has a full open kitchen and two bedrooms. The main house could be configured as two bedrooms with the loft as an entertainment room or as a three-bedroom setup.
The master suite has a his and hers bathroom and two walk-in closets. The guest bedroom downstairs also has its own full bath and there is a third full bathroom awaiting a tub.
The home is built above a two-car garage, covered patio with brick barbecue nook and generous covered parking area, with additional parking space for a recreational vehicle, boat or other watercraft.