It’s longer than a football field and contains 33,500 square feet of oceanfront living space — but what will soon be one of the biggest houses in Palm Beach, Fla., has planning officials scratching their heads.
How come the Tahitian village-inspired home that Illinois’ richest man is building on his $130 million-plus estate is so small?
It “defies logic” that Citadel hedge fund titan Ken Griffin, 47, would build on just 7 percent of the gargantuan 11 1/2-acre holding he has cobbled together from four lots in the ritzy town’s exclusive billionaire’s row, Palm Beach Architectural Commissioner Robert Garrison recently told the Palm Beach Daily News.
But perhaps Griffin, who helped bankroll the campaigns of several establishment Republicans vanquished by Donald Trump in the presidential primaries this year, is sending a message about discretion to his new neighbor. Trump’s famous Mar-a-Lago club is just a quarter-mile north along the beach.
Palm Beach officials who gave Griffin’s plans a provisional go-ahead on Wednesday said they were impressed by how his architects have been sensitive to the delicate beachfront environment and his plans to carefully relocate hundreds of trees at the site. City rules would have permitted Griffin to build a home more than three times as large.
He certainly could afford to go bigger. But Griffin, the 69th wealthiest American, according to Forbes magazine, which estimates his wealth at $7 billion, wanted his “young, active family” to feel like it was in Tahiti when at the property, his architect, Jeff Mahaney, told officials at the meeting.
An existing 21,350-square-foot mansion, worth an estimated $6 million, will be demolished to make way for Griffin’s new home.
The new one-story home is modern and filled with glass and limestone, prompting one commissioner to joke during the hearing that the building costs alone would “break plenty of banks in the world.”
Mahaney said the goal was to create “a sort of see-through house, if you will, where you enter the front door and you’re able to see through to the pool and the ocean.”
Nitpicking officials had only one complaint: Griffin’s planned glass and bronze gates were described as “a little bit too much in your face” for the genteel neighborhood, and will have to be redesigned.
The Florida property is one of several trophy homes Griffin owns. His main Chicago residence is the entire 37th floor of the Waldorf Astoria, while he also owns two full-floor units in the Park Tower. He also owns homes in Aspen, Colo., and purchased three floors of a luxury Manhattan condo tower that is still under construction for $200 million.