PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — The Steeplechase community in Palm Beach Gardens is a neighborhood with wide tree-covered roads. Many of the homes sit on more than an acre of land.
Doctor Henry Stark bought his home in 1989.
“My wife actually found the property with my mother-in-law and when I came by it was just perfect for us,” he said.
The perfect place for the Stark’s to raise five kids, a generation of memories covering birthdays and barbeques to proms.
But, recently like a number of his longtime neighbors, Henry Stark sold his home.
“It’s time to move on. Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes if I can quote Billy Joel and this was a perfect time,” he said.
Like so many in south Florida, Steeplechase is a community in transition. Stark’s house like many of his neighbors will be torn down once sold making way for more modern and luxurious living.
Developer Craig Dell is leading the charge.
“I had heard about Steeplechase from an agent in that it was a real diamond in the rough for people that wanted to be in a gated community but didn’t want to belong to a country club,” he said.
Dell says his first deal was in June of 2020 since then he’s acquired an additional 11 properties. The houses he’s constructing range from 4,600 to 5,300 square feet with five bedrooms, five bathrooms, and a pool with price tags in the millions.
He’s catering to mostly buyers outside the state.
“Primarily I would say people from the northeast, people from California, people from Connecticut, New York, New Jersey,” he said.
People like Bryan Dunn. His place is being built now. He’s moving his family from New York City to Palm Beach Gardens. His house should be finished in January with a price tag of $3.9 million.
“Quality of life is a big one we love New York, we’ll miss New York, we’ll go back to New York. But, with the ability to work from home, having more space just seemed like a great decision for us,” he said.
According to the Florida Realtors’ Association, the market for high-end homes before the pandemic was fairly balanced but that’s changed.
“The largest increase was out of New York City. The New York City metro has thousands of changes of address forms in 2020 than 2019. We zeroed in on that data. It wasn’t the suburban parts of New York that were really feeding it, it was Manhattan and Brooklyn primarily. Where you have not only some of the wealthiest people in the country, but they’re also cramped into very tight spaces and get very little for their money,” Dr. Brad O’Connor with the Florida Realtors said.
O’Connor says the largest growth area is sales over a million dollars. It’s a trend that may not change.
“In the luxury segment, it’s always been probably more than 50% of sales are all-cash, to begin with, and that’s not really changed much in this market,” he said.
Dr. Stark says change is inevitable.
“Closing the door, it’s a little difficult but, life again, takes its toll and we go on. The glass is still half full for me,” he said.