Richard Kurtz bought his 1926-era Spanish-style home designed by noted society architect Howard Major 10 years ago. An investor in multi-family residential properties as well as founder and chief executive officer of the Kamson Corp., he has accumulated thousands of apartments in five Northeast states since the 1970s, and he’s adept at improving properties.
As such, he was well prepared to tackle the house at 235 Banyan Road in Palm Beach’s Estate Section.
“I renovated it in the last two years,” Richard Kurtz says. “I redid all the bathrooms — all new from A to Z. I took off the old kitchen, which was very small, and put one in three-and-a-half times larger.”
Because the house is a town landmark, the Landmarks Preservation Commission must grant permission if any exterior walls are altered.
“It took over a year to get permission, and it has turned out very beautifully,” Kurtz says.
Now, however, he’s ready to move into a home on the ocean that’s he’s also redone; but he feels bittersweet about leaving Banyan Road.
“It’s a charming, warm, lovely home,” he says. “I have mixed feelings about moving.”
But he has made up his mind to sell, and the seven-bedroom, eight-and-a-half-bath house — with 6,603 square feet of living space, inside and out — is being offered for sale. Broker Christian Angle of Christian Angle Real Estate holds the listing and has the property priced at $16.9 million.
The house stands on a double lot on the north side of the street in the lake block, six streets south of the Everglades Golf Course. Because of the way Major positioned the house, Kurtz says, the property feels larger than it is.
“It looks like an acre, because the home is brilliantly laid out, utilizing every inch of the property,” he says.
The floor plan is laid out in an “L,” with the longest wing running parallel to the road. One enters the house from the motor court on the east side. West of the entry is an expansive foyer that Kurtz uses as a sunroom. Farther west are the living room and an office.
North of the foyer are the dining room, a study with a wet bar and accommodations for household staff. To the north of the staff quarters are the kitchen and family room.
Upstairs, the master suite is above the living areas. The suite comprises the master bedroom, a marble-appointed bathroom, a sitting area and a dressing area.
Over the dining room and study area are two guest-bedroom suites, and in the third-floor tower is a bedroom suite with views of the Intracoastal Waterway, one lot to the west.
On the north side of the courtyard is a detached three-car garage with a second-floor guest area that includes two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen/dining area and a living room.
The stucco home with tile roof has noteworthy features typical of its era — decorative tile; marble and wood floors; vaulted ceilings; French doors topped with fanlights; and a gracefully curved staircase with railings of wrought iron and brass. The house has high ceilings throughout and 16-inch-thick walls.
Other features include the carved-wood door surround in the sunroom, the pecky-cypress paneling in the living room and office, the tiled walls in the dining room, and the fireplaces in the living room and master bedroom.
The new kitchen and family room pick up the bright and open feeling of the original rooms.
“The kitchen — in walnut, white wood and chrome — is very unusual,” Kurtz says, noting that the marble countertops and the state-of-the-art appliances.
Windows and doors are fitted with impact-resistant glass. The house also has has an elevator, and most of the plumbing and electrical systems, as well as some parts of the roof, are new, Kurtz says.
The landscaping had been put in place by the previous owner, the late Dr. Wynne “Didi” S. Ballinger, an avid preservationist who founded the Horticulture Society of South Florida. She was the widow of the late Robert I. Ballinger Jr., for whom the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach named its annual historic-preservation award.
While Kurt redid the pool and its surrounding patio, he left the gardens as they were. “They are quite beautiful,” he says. “I have two terraces — north by the pool and the south terrace — and both are very beautiful and comfortable. I have two golden retrievers and they enjoy both of them every day.”