By Sara Matthis & Jim McCarthy

Joani Towe, a real estate advisor with Engel & Völkers Islamorada, recently steered her client to the cash purchase of 1150 Bulevar de Palmas home in Marathon for $11,995,000. The closing was on March 18. The buyer is reportedly a female oil and gas magnate from Texas, with an affinity for fishing and boating.

The sale price represents the most expensive single family home sale in Marathon, as well as the fourth highest in all of the Florida Keys region. Though it was listed for sale on four separate occasions, this is the first time it has traded hands since being built in 2004. It was originally listed for sale at $13.5 million by Robert Cardenas and Matthew Carlson of Ocean Sotheby’s International Realty

A sweeping staircase offsets the distinctive two-story windows facing the water. CONTRIBUTED

According to John Gallant, the licensed partner of Engel & Völkers in Islamorada, the house — known locally as “Fish Camp” — is in the Sombrero Beach neighborhood and was on the market for almost three years.

“What I love about this house is that it feels ‘right.’ It’s all done very tastefully — nothing feels gaudy or over the top. It’s well designed, well laid out, and has a great use of space. The guest house includes workspaces you wouldn’t traditionally find in a larger luxury home, such as a room designed for processing and canning.” 

The eight-bedroom, 10-bath property features a full-size tennis court, and a 191-foot seawall that can accommodate both an 80-foot and 60-foot yacht. It has a pool (including a swim-up bar) and even has a red-tailed hawk in residence who was privy to the discussions and photography sessions that led to the sale of the house.   

The 8-bedroom, 10-bath house is located in the Sombrero Beach neighborhood.

On the other side of Marathon, a private island sold. 

At $11 million, the private oceanside island known as Palm Island has sold — the highest private island sale in the Keys —  after spending two years on the market. 

Located at 1740 Overseas Highway, the 3.6-acre Palm Island includes a two-story main home and two private guest houses with a pool and deep water protected dockage for multiple boats. The island was listed on the market in March 2019 at $12.7 million. The deal came to a close in late February. 

Pierre Bellion, of Ocean Sotheby’s International Realty, represented the seller, who’s from Connecticut. The buyer is from Fort Lauderdale. 

“Back in January, I had three offers in writing and four additional buyers lined up waiting to see if the contract was going through. That shows you how the dynamics have completely switched,” said Bellion, a Keys Realtor of six years and an Islamorada resident who also runs Cafe Moka with wife, Alex.

Bellion alludes to a market in South Florida that’s one of the more desirable places these days. Add a pandemic into the mix, and people are setting their sights on secluded places with sunshine and a breeze. 

What’s more intriguing is where the wealthy buyers are coming from. Bellion said he had people not only from Connecticut and Michigan, but also Texas and California. 

“California is interesting because we never had buyers from there before. These new buyers were people we didn’t see before, at least in my case,” he said. 

Bellion added that a number of buyers were either from Naples or eyeing property along the southwest Gulf community who’d fly in their jets to Marathon airport. 

The home’s pool has a swim-up bar feature.

“After the showing, I’d ask them how much they thought the island would be worth in Naples. And they say ‘we don’t have this in Naples.’ I said, ‘I know, if you had an island with your own beach and marina and three houses…’ They were like ‘$50 million.’ 

“For these people from Texas and California who are looking for property in Naples, the island property in the Keys was actually an amazing deal,” he continued. “But it was still on the market for two years, because the Keys was not yet on the map for these particular buyers.”

Palm Island’s two-story main home offers two bedrooms, a living and dining area, a kitchen and French doors that open to first- and second-floor porches overlooking the water. The guest quarters have four bedrooms, four bathrooms and a private patio with views of the water.

An additional one-bedroom guest cottage offers open water views and a sandy beach area. The swimming pool with a sundeck is surrounded by palm trees and tropical gardens.

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