Melania Trump, Akie Abe tour Palm Beach landmark

First lady Melania Trump and Akie Abe, wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, tour the Flagler Museum with museum director Erin Manning on Wednesday, April 18, 2018. (Skyler Swisher/Sun Sentinel)

First lady Melania Trump soaked in the splendor of another lavish Palm Beach mansion Wednesday.

The first lady and and her Japanese counterpart toured the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum, a Palm Beach landmark about three miles from President Donald Trump’s own Mar-a-Lago estate and private club.

The 75-room, 100,000-square-foot mansion — named Whitehall — matches all of the luxuriousness of Mar-a-Lago. Whitehall’s grand entryway features seven types of marble and a 20-foot high ceiling.

When Whitehall opened in 1902, a New York City reporter wrote the Gilded Age mansion was “more wonderful than any palace in Europe.”

The first lady tweeted photos of her visit with Akie Abe, wife of the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The Japanese delegation is visiting Palm Beach for a two-day summit with the president.

“I enjoyed showing Mrs. Abe a timeless part of Florida’s history,” the first lady said. “Thank you to the welcoming staff of the Flagler Museum for having us, and for continuing to share Whitehall’s historic influence.”

The industrialist Henry Flagler, who played an integral role in developing Florida’s tourism industry with the Overseas Railroad, built the mansion as a wedding present for his third wife, Mary Lily Kenan Flagler. The couple wintered there from 1902 until Flagler’s death in 1913.

It cost about $4 million to build and furnish the mansion, which would equate to more than $100 million in today’s dollars.

President Donald Trump is hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie for the second time in Palm Beach. Trump has owned the Mar-a-Lago estate and private club since the 1980s. During his presidency, he has spent many weekends in South Florida during the social season, which typically ends around Easter. He also hosted the president of China in 2017.

The museum’s director Erin Manning and William Matthews, Flagler’s great-grandson, greeted Trump and Abe, and Manning led a 40-minute tour of the museum.

They saw Flagler’s private railcar that he used to travel his east coast railway that ran from Jacksonville to Key West. They learned about bicyle-powered wicker wheelchairs wealthy vacationers used to traverse Palm Beach during the early 1900s.

An organist then serenaded Trump and Abe in the mansion’s music room with a performance of “Anvil Chorus” from the opera Il Trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi, one of Flagler’s favorite pieces. The 1,249-pipe Odell organ was one of the largest ever installed in a private home of its day.

President Donald Trump and the prime minister played golf at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach during the museum tour. The Trumps and Abes had dinner Tuesday night at Mar-a-Lago. The prime minister was in South Florida for two days of talks on North Korea and trade sanctions.

In February 2017, Melania Trump and Akie Abe toured another Palm Beach County site — the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens.

About 100,000 people visit the Flagler Museum annually. The first lady and Abe’s visits help to shine a positive spotlight on Palm Beach County attractions, said Ashley Svarney, a spokeswoman for the area’s tourism marketing organization Discover the Palm Beaches.

“It gave tremendous visibility to this gem that we have here in the Palm Beaches that is available for any and all to come visit and explore," Svarney said.

The Morikami Gardens saw a spike in Internet searches after Abe and Trump’s visit last year, she said.

The first lady is expected to attend former first lady Barbara Bush’s funeral on Saturday, along with the Obamas and Clintons. The White House has not released whether the president plans to attend.

sswisher@sunsentinel.com, 561-243-6634 or @SkylerSwisher

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Oil chief buys office building next to JFK Medical Center in West Palm

2051 & 2151 45th Street and Augustus C. Miller (Credit: SF Partners and Smithsonian Libraries)

A medical office building next to the north campus of the JFK Medical Center in West Palm Beach just traded hands for $9.5 million, property records show.

SF Partners sold the 73,500-square-foot medical center at 2051 and 2151 45th Street to Augustus C. Miller, who heads the fuel distribution company Miller Oil. The trade breaks down to about $130 per square foot.

Records show SF Partners, a Miami-based real estate development and management firm, paid $7.8 million for the building in February 2016 – meaning it sold for a roughly 18 percent gain in two years. The building sits on about 3 acres of land, just north of the intersection of 45th Street and Congress Avenue, near downtown West Palm Beach. Tenants include a mix of physicians, therapists and other medical services.

SF Partners owns a mix of commercial properties throughout Florida and Georgia, according its website.

Late last year a similar medical office building next to the main campus of the JFK Medical Center in Atlantis traded hands for $11.25 million.

Miller Oil is headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia. The Millers have homes in Virginia Beach, Washington, D.C., and Palm Beach, according to published reports.

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Palm Beach life simulated: Photo center exhibits Rachel Brown’s images

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Photographer Rachel Brown gained access to Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach through a member. She posed the member’s daughter at the entrance to the club’s living room. Photo courtesy of Rachel Louise Brown

Drivers passing by The Patriarca Companies building in the daytime probably wouldn’t give it a second glance.

But the unassuming structure at 175 Bradley Place in Palm Beach takes on a different personality at night when used as a backdrop for one of Rachel Brown’s photographs. Then it becomes like something out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, or perhaps an Edward Hopper painting.

+ Tom Dodson, who responded to Rachel Brown’s ad for volunteers to pose as characters in her photographic tableaus, said he knew

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Brown posed Tom Dodson, someone she’d arranged to meet that night in the Publix parking lot, as a pedestrian frozen in the icy glow of a streetlight against the building’s facade. In front of the figure, an indented entrance throbs with red light, illuminating a door and a bonsai tree.

“The whole thing had this strange, sinister feel,” Brown said. “He turned up with that hair and very groomed. The whole thing just fit.”

The photograph is one of about 30 images Brown selected from the countless pictures she shot as an artist in residence at Palm Beach Photographic Centre in West Palm Beach. They’re on view in Simulations: Photographs by Rachel Louise Brown through April 28 at the center’s museum.

+ Photographer Rachel Brown allowed the young ballerinas at Ballet East in West Palm Beach to pose themselves. Part of her project

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Brown, who hails from Great Britain, where she’s photography director for the British editions of Harper’s Bazaar and Town & Country, visited the center for about two weeks each fall in 2014, 2015 and 2017. During that time, she taught classes, conducted field trips, lectured and produced a body of work.

“What I love about Rachel’s work is its ethereal quality,” said Fatima NeJame, president and chief executive officer. “It’s very different and very artistic.”

Brown is the last of the center’s artists in residence, as it’s lost its free housing for the artists and can’t afford to rent it, NeJame said.

The unease that permeates the photograph of Dodson is exactly the feeling she aimed for.

“I worked with the head space of tension to create a cinematic tableau of a place,” she said. “It’s always a place that’s unfamiliar and foreign to me.”

She added to the discomfort by frequently working at night, either alone or with a stranger who’d responded to her ad seeking models.

She was fascinated by Florida’s image as a paradise and a symbol of the American dream, a point of view that comes through in the images and the show’s title — Simulations.

“The whole thing here is how we fake reality and build environments that enhance escapism,” she said.

Brown gained access to one of Palm Beach’s most famous fantasy getaways — Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago — through a member who replied to her ad.

The member met her at the private club with her daughter, whose long blonde tresses and white dress were a perfect complement to the luminous light and gold cherubs decorating the entrance to the living room.

“Basically, what draws me is the lighting,” Brown said.

That’s one of the reasons she uses a medium-format film camera rather than a digital camera. “When you photograph on film it becomes painterly,” she said.

+ Rachel Brown shot this self-portrait in The Breakers’ Mediterranean Ballroom. Courtesy of Rachel Louise Brown

Brown used The Breakers’ Mediterranean Ballroom as the setting for the self-portrait she always shoots during an artist residency. She borrowed a long silk evening gown from The Church Mouse for the photo.

As she posed, “I imagined I was this woman who owned the dress dancing,” she said. The skirt looks like a hummingbird’s wings in the picture.

+ “This child-like fairground during the day becomes magical at night,” photographer Rachel Brown said of the carousel at the Palm Beach

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Brown didn’t confine herself to Palm Beach. Other places shot include the Palm Beach Zoo, the streets of West Palm Beach, Fright Nights at the South Florida Fairgrounds, a ballet studio in West Palm Beach and Weeki Wachee Springs State Park in Spring Hill, where she captured the famous mermaid show.

The mermaid show “symbolizes everything this show is about,” Brown said. “It’s a simulated environment that’s been going on for 70 years.”

+ Florida’s long history of catering to tourists’ fantasies is embodied in Rachel Brown’s photograph of the mermaid show at Weeki Wachee

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+ Photographer Rachel Brown calls this photograph The Lobster Girl. The haunted houses at Fright Nights at the South Florida Fairgrounds were

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If You Go

What: Simulations: Photographs by Rachel Louise Brown

When: Through April 28

Where: Palm Beach Photographic Centre, 415 Clematis St., West Palm Beach

For information: Call 253-2600 or visit workshop.org or fotofusion.org

Rachel Brown will give a free talk about the exhibition 4-6 p.m. Wednesday at the photo center.

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Landmarked Mizner house sells for $18.25 million, deed shows

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Sir Peter Wood stands on the east lawn at Audita, 89 Middle Road, in a 2016 file photo. Photo by Damon Higgins / Palm Beach Daily News

A landmarked seaside house designed by noted society architect Addison Mizner has sold at 89 Middle Road for $18.25 million, according to a deed recorded Monday.

A company controlled by British insurance entrepreneur and Palm Beach developer Sir Peter Wood sold the Mediterranean-style house. The four-bedroom house — known as Audita — was completed in 1921 and stands on about an acre.

Facing 150 feet of ocean frontage across South Ocean Boulevard, the two-story house stands about a mile north of President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago in the Estate Section. Compared to grander Mizner houses, Audita is much more intimate in scale, with 5,541 square fee of living space, inside and out.

The identity of the buyer was not immediately available Monday in the information about the sale posted on the Palm Beach County Clerk’s website.

Broker Christian J. Angle of Christian Angle Real Estate handled both sides of the sale, according to the Palm Beach Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service. Angle had the property priced at $21.9 million, down from $24.9 million, the price it carried when it entered the market in December 2016.

Wood sold the house though Middle Road LLC, a limited liability company he controls. He bought the house in April 2016 as part of a $39 million purchase of an estate assembled in the 1990s by the late communications billionaire John Kluge. The land totaled 4.3 acres.

Wood razed one of the estate’s two houses and cleared the land with the goal of creating a new subdivision.

Audita, which Kluge used as a guesthouse, was never part of Wood’s subdivision. Its landmark status protects its exterior from substantial renovation unless approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission

Angle declined to discuss the transaction. He listed the five lots in the subdivision for sale last year, and the first of them changed hands last fall.

Immediately west of Audita at 95 Middle Road, another lot is under contract, according to the MLS. But it’s unclear whether the buyer of Audita is also eyeing that lot for use as a yard. The lot is priced at just under $8 million.

Audita’s first owners were Afred and Elizabeth Kay, prominent Palm Beach residents for more than 60 years. The house was the first of three they owned on South Ocean Boulevard.

Society architect Marion Sims Wyeth carried out renovations to the property. The house has a broad lawn that stretches to the coastal road, while the front door faces west. Three blocks from Worth Avenue, the property includes a separate guesthouse and a two-car garage.

Audita’s floor plan is similar to those in several other Mizner houses of its size, according to Mizner’s Florida, a book by the late historian Donald Curl. Interior details include Cuban-tile and hardwood floors, beamed ceilings and a cast-stone fireplace.

The town granted Audita landmark status in 1991.

Wood, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2016, has lived in Palm Beach for more than a decade. Last year, he completed a mansion for his own use at 101 Via Marina, a few doors down from Audita. Angle also has listed for sale, at $41 million, a house at 530 S. Ocean Blvd., which Wood developed on speculation next door to his new home.

Wood founded Direct Line, Esure.com and other companies that provide insurance to customers in Great Britain. He has also been involved in the insurance business in the United States.

In the 2016 sale of the former Kluge estate, agent John O. Pickett of Brown Harris Stevens represented Wood. The property was on the market for nearly five years, co-listed by agents Carol Digges and Carole Hogan of Brown Harris Stevens and Paulette Koch and Dana Koch of the Corcoran Group. Proceeds from that sale benefited Columbia Univeristy, Kluge’s alma mater.

The first of the subdivision’s lots sold in October to a next-door neighbor for just under $7 million in a deal handled by Angle. The lot was bought by company controlled by Thomas D. O’Malley, who lives with his wife, Mary Alice, immediately to the east in an oceanfront house at 101 El Bravo Way. Audita stands immediately north of the O’Malley house.

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Couple enjoys ‘fabulous water views’ and wildlife at Palm Beach home

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The pool and patios are just adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway. “This house is all about the fabulous water views,” Sandy Hutzler says. Photo by Andy Frame, courtesy of Douglas Elliman Real Estate

A southern exposure, long views of the Intracoastal Waterway and daily visits by ibis and other waterbirds — no wonder homeowner Sandy Hutzler says Ibis Isle is a South Florida paradise for outdoor living.

For nearly 28 years, Hutzler has owned a mid-century-modern home at 2315 Ibis Isle Road with her husband, Albert “Jiggs” Hutzler, on the island subdivision near the Par 3 Golf Course.

“We love Ibis Isle because it’s so private. We bought an apartment first, and when we needed more room, we waited until a house on the south end came up for sale,” she says.

Appreciating the house as much as the location, the Hutzlers choose to keep intact the integrity of its original 1961-era architecture.

“We updated the bathrooms and put in a white-tile floor, but other than that, we left it as it was,” Sandy says. “We decorated it minimally, too, because this house is all about the fabulous water views and we wanted to keep that focal point.

“We did increase a side of the terrace because we eat outside at the water’s edge three times a day. We have a lovely back lawn, and ibis are here all the time. They sit with us while we eat. They are always around, and it’s so sweet. There’s a beautiful bird sanctuary near us and we also see osprey; and we even saw a bald eagle. We see dolphin, too.”

The Hutzlers enjoy the privacy of their lot, and they like walking over to the oceanfront golf course’s clubhouse for meals.

+ The mid-century modern home is at center, with the circular driveway. The Hutzlers enjoy the privacy of their lot. Photo by

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“It’s right on the beach,” Sandy Hutzler says.

But it’s time to sell, she says. They have family in Baltimore, where they plan to spend more time.

“We will miss our house terribly,” she adds.

Their five-bedroom, five-bath home — with 4,577 square feet of living space, inside and out — is listed for sale for $4.75 million with agent Joan Wenzel of Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

On the southern tip of the small island, their 180-foot deep lot has 105 feet of water frontage. The entry, on the north side of the home, is faced with slate.

With all-white interiors, the entry leads to a foyer and hallway. The living room lies directly to the south, with three bedrooms to the east — they include the master suite in the southeast corner and one of the guest bedrooms, which is set up as a library.

On the west side of the house are the dining room and kitchen, a staff suite, the laundry area and two-car garage. A guest suite sits over the garage.

Features include picture windows and walls of sliding-glass doors in the east-facing rooms that take advantage of the views as well as built-in cabinetry in the living room, dining room and library.

Sandy Hutzler was a real estate agent for 32 years, starting out her career at Martha A. Gottfried Inc., which became part of Douglas Elliman in 2012. She readily points out selling points with a practiced eye — the pool and patios are just adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway; the second-floor guest suite provides great privacy for homeowners and their visitors; and the house has 15 closets.

The home is perfectly positioned for them to enjoy the annual holiday boat parade, and they see fireworks from Lake Worth, Lantana and West Palm Beach, she says.

In addition, the fishing is great.

“Our grandchildren have loved it. The first thing they do when they visit is set up their fishing rods and chairs on the water. They catch one fish after another. We make them throw them all back in.”

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EXCLUSIVE: Jon Bon Jovi pays recorded $10 million for Palm Beach house

Rocker Jon Bon Jovi is apparently behind the company that just paid a recorded $10 million for a Palm Beach house with ocean views built in 1985 at 230 N. Ocean Blvd. The lot measures about a third of an acre. Meghan McCarthy/Daily News

Rocker Jon Bon Jovi has paid a recorded $10 million for an oceanfront house in Palm Beach, according to multiple sources familiar with the deal.

The singer evidently used an ownership company to buy the longtime home of Judith Goldfarb and her late husband, businessman Gene Goldfarb, at 230 N. Ocean Blvd. The deed was recorded Thursday by the Palm Beach County Clerk’s office.

The real estate brokers and other parties directly involved in the deal couldn’t be reached.

+ Jon Bon Jovi is interviewed at the Samsung annual charity gala 2017 at Skylight Clarkson Sq on November 2, 2017 in

Bon Jovi is said to own a home in Boca Raton, as The Hollywood Reporter and other media outlets have reported, and for years, he has regularly been spotted in South Florida, dining at restaurants and attending polo matches, according to news reports. A December 2017 posting on a Facebook fan page shows a photo of the singer posing with fans on Worth Avenue. The same month, he was also photographed dining at Benny’s on the Beach at the Lake Worth beach, as the Palm Beach Post reported.

Bon Jovi, who is married to Dorothea Hurley, also has friends who are seasonal residents of Palm Beach, according to media reports, including radio shock jock Howard Stern and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who is also a friend of President Donald Trump. Stern lives about a mile from the property, and Kraft’s residence is even closer.

On Wednesday, Bon Jovi made a return appearance to Billboard’s “Artist 100” list, earning the No. 1 spot. The list “measures artist activity across key metrics of music consumption, blending album and track sales, radio airplay, streaming and social media fan interaction to provide a weekly multi-dimensional ranking of artist popularity.”

Billboard attributed the singer’s “surge back to No. 1 … nearly entirely to sales generated by a concert ticket/album sale redemption offer accompanying Bon Jovi’s upcoming U.S. arena tour.”

Ready to renovate, replace?

The five-bedroom, two-story house built in 1985 stands on a property measuring about a third of an acre at the corner of Atlantic Avenue, two blocks south of Wells Road on the near North End.

The house is ripe for renovation, sources said. It’s unclear whether Bon Jovi will renovate it or replace it with a new home.

A New Jersey native, Bon Jovi is lead singer for the band Bon Jovi, which earned $35.5 million last year, according to Forbes.com. Forbes ranked the band No. 80 on its 2017 list of the world’s 100 highest-paid celebrities. In 2016, Forbes estimated Bon Jovi’s personal net worth at $410 million.

He also is a 2018 inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The band came to the forefront in the 1980s and has since sold more than 120 million albums worldwide, making them one of the best-selling groups of all time, according to Billboard News. Their hits include Living on a Prayer, Bad Medicine and Wanted Dead or Alive. The band’s latest album is This House Is Not For Sale, which also is the title of its latest tour.

Listed for over a year

Broker Christian Angle of Christian Angle Real Estate acted on behalf of the buyer in the Palm Beach sale.

The house had been on the market for more than a year, according to records in the Palm Beach Board of Realtors’ Multiple Listing Service. Broker Lawrence Moens of Lawrence A. Moens Associates had it listed at $10.875 million, down from its original price of just under $14 million.

Moens and Angle couldn’t be reached and their offices declined to comment on their behalf.

The house has 6,803 square feet of living space, inside and out, as well as a two-car garage, a swimming pool and a balcony facing the sea, property records show. The interior features a library/den, a dining room, a fireplace and a wet bar, according to its MLS listing.

+ The house at 230 N. Ocean Blvd. just bought for a recorded $10 million by a company linked to rocker Jon

The buyer was a Florida limited liability company named after the property’s address with a mailing address in care of Sussman & Associates, a Nashville-based accounting firm specializing in the entertainment industry. Headed by Charles Sussman, the firm handles international business management, royalties and tax planning. Sussman also is the manager of 230 North Ocean LLC, records show.

Sussman and his company are credited on at least two of Bon Jovi’s albums for providing business-management services for the singer.

Ellen Goldfarb, who has a home in Palm Beach, acted as trustee of the trust in her mother’s name that sold the house, the deed shows. She couldn’t be reached.

The Goldfarbs paid $2.2 million for the property in 1991, courthouse records show.

Judith Goldfarb is the widow of Gene Goldfarb, an apparel manufacturer and wholesaler who was chairman of House of Perfection Inc., a company founded by his father in 1934. He “owned and operated manufacturing facilities in the states of Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee and South Carolina,” according to his obituary in The New York Times.

The Goldfarbs supported a variety of charitable and cultural organizations, including the U.J.A.-Federation, Ben Gurion University, State of Israel, American Jewish Congress, United Way of Palm Beach and Greenwich, Conn. The couple also supported lent support to Good Samaritan and Saint Mary’s hospitals. Gene Goldfarb also was one of the original supporters of the Kravis Center, according to his obituary.

The sale is the latest deal in what has been an active Palm Beach season for properties priced at $10 million or more.

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Ex-administrator Sansbury joins crowded District 2 Commission race

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John C. Sansbury in 2000

After John Sansbury retired as Palm Beach County administrator in 1986, commissioners voted to name the street on which he lived in his honor.

Sansburys Way was to be a capstone to his 11-year tenure leading the county’s staff.

But Sansbury, 68, isn’t quite done with county government — or, at least, he doesn’t want to be done with it.

Sansbury said Monday he plans to file paperwork to run for the County Commission seat being vacated by Paulette Burdick, who can’t run for re-election because of term limits.

“There’s a right way, a wrong way and then there’s Sansburys Way,” he joked.

Former county attorney Gary Brandenburg will serve as Sansbury’s campaign treasurer.

Sansbury’s entrance into the District 2 commission race — he said he plans to file paperwork with the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Office on Tuesday — would make a crowded field even more crowded.

A quartet of Democrats — Gregg Weiss, Sylvia Sharps, Emmanuel Morel and Alex Garcia — have already filed to run in the district, which stretches from Lantana Road in the south to Roebuck Road west of West Palm Beach in the north and from the Intracoastal Waterway in West Palm Beach to Sansburys Way/Lyons Road in the west.

Sansbury, a former Republican, says he plans to run as a Democrat.

“There’s nobody that knows more about Palm Beach County than the person you’re talking to,” he told a reporter.

Sansbury noted that he wrote a letter recommending that Verdenia Baker be promoted to county administrator. He was county administrator when Baker’s predecessor and mentor, Bob Weisman, was hired by the county.

Weisman retired in 2015 after 24 years as county administrator. The county government center was re-named in honor of Weisman, who also had a street named after him.

The two roads intersect in unincorporated Palm Beach County west of West Palm Beach.

Sansbury has lived on the road named for him for the past 40 years. An older brother, Tom Sansbury, is a former chairman of the Palm Beach County School Board.

After Sansbury left as county administrator, he went into real estate development. He also served as a Port of Palm Beach commissioner from 1988 to 1992. And several of his deals, real estate and otherwise, came under government or public scrutiny, including his steering of a $3,000 port catering job to the Crazy Horse Tavern, a now-defunct bar that he partially owned. The Florida Ethics Commission reprimanded him for the deal in 1991.

Sansbury — who ran again for the Port Commission, and lost, in 2000 — said he’s running for the County Commission seat because he wants to get back into public service.

“I’ve always been involved in public service,” he said.

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Funding Shortfall Looms For Palm Beach County’s 34 Designated Natural Areas

Scrubs are typically dry land with sandy soil and low shrubs, interspersed with trees like the sand pine. But the Yamato Scrub Natural Area in Boca Raton contains several different ecosystem types, including this marsh.

Palm Beach County’s prized natural areas — protected areas of dunes, wetlands, scrub and flatwood forests — could lose money for maintenance in the next few years because of changes to funding sources.

That’s prompting a push for money for the 34 designated sites, which were purchased with taxpayer dollars and are popular destinations for hikers, bikers, fishermen, kayakers and wildlife photographers.

"We’ll regret it if they fall into disrepair," said Scott Zucker of Audubon Everglades, which along with the Loxahatchee chapter of the Sierra Club has begun a campaign for funding. "As green spaces, they serve to recharge our aquifers, so they’re an important source for water. Much of these areas are wetlands, and wetlands are important in terms of reducing the force of hurricanes."

It costs the county about $6 million per year to maintain the approximately 31,000 acres of natural areas. In years past, Palm Beach County has paid using interest from an endowment and the fees developers pay in order to build extra homes on their land.

But after the county shifted the endowment to an investment vehicle that pays less interest, and after officials cut the amount developers are required to pay, the natural areas face a $3.5 million annual shortfall and could run out of funding by 2019, according to the Palm Beach Post.

A prickly pear cactus in Yamato Scrub Natural Area in Boca Raton.

There are various options for how the county could make up the deficit, including using proceeds from a tax on hotel and motel stays. Zucker says the environmental groups are trying to raise awareness and generate public support for natural areas with cards that will be delivered to Palm Beach commissioners in March.

"We are hoping to present them with somewhere between 800 and 1,000 cards signed by members of the community encouraging them to be generous," he said. "It’s basically an ‘I love the natural area’ campaign."

Zucker says there’s not currently a way to sign one of the cards online, but volunteers are taking the cards to their neighborhoods and churches, as well as festivals and meetings of outdoor groups like the Sierra Club.

An annual festival celebrating the natural areas is scheduled for Saturday, March 10, from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Winding Waters Natural Area, 6161 Haverhill Rd. in West Palm Beach. Organizers say the event will include a 5K trail race (registration required), hands-on exhibits, wildlife presentations, a kids zone, guided hikes and kayak tours, prescribed fire demonstration, food trucks and more.

The county also has a number of other smaller events showcasing the natural areas scheduled throughout March. You can find more information here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/PBCERM/events/

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Purim in Africa among Palm Beach County holiday celebrations

Children have fun at last year’s Purim carnival at the Boca Raton Synagogue in Boca Raton. Other Purim carnivals and events are planned throughout Palm Beach County. (COURTESY)

To celebrate Purim, many Palm Beach County synagogues and temples have created a wide variety of events. such as carnivals, a comedy night, costume masquerade balls, a Purim interpretation of famous Broadway musicals and Purim in Africa celebrations, all to take place during and following Purim.

Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County celebrated Purim with the first ever South Palm Beach County Community Purim Carnival that took place at the Federation campus in Boca Raton, in partnership with B’nai Torah Congregation, Boca Jewish Center, Boca Raton Synagogue, Chabad of East and Central Boca Raton, Congregation Shaarei Kodesh, and Temple Beth El of Boca Raton among other organizations.

"Purim is such a festive holiday and children look forward to it. With so many partners, Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Chabad and more collaborating, sharing resources and ruach (Hebrew for "spirit"), we are able to plan a huge event that will bring us together from all across this vibrant, diverse Jewish community," said Rabbi Josh Broide of The Deborah and Larry D. Silver Center for Jewish Engagement, one of the sponsoring organizations, prior to the event.

Another Purim carnival will be taking place on March 4 beginning at 11 a.m. at Congregation B’nai Israel, 2200 Yamato Road in Boca Raton, featuring bounce houses, bungee jumping, a dunk tank, face painting, and other games and prizes for children.

CBI will also be having a Purim interpretation of the musical "Annie" on Purim on Feb. 28 tiled "Estie’ (in reference to Queen Esther) to be performed by CBI members. The program will take place at 5 p.m., which includes a community dinner. For more information on both CBI events, call 561-241-8118 or go to www.cbiboca.org.

Temple Beth El of Boca Raton, 333 S.W. Fourth Ave. in Boca Raton, will present a Purim interpretation of the musical "Fiddler on the Roof" titled "Megillah on the Roof," as performed by clergy and temple members on Feb. 28 at 5 p.m., which includes dinner. For more information, call 561-391-8900 or go to www.tbeboca.org.

Temple Beth El, 2815 N. Flagler Dr. in West Palm Beach will host a masquerade ball on Feb. 28 at 6:30 p.m. which is free for all. Prizes will be awarded for the best costumes. For more information, call 561-833-0339 or go to www.bethelwpb.com.

Temple Emanu-El, 190 N. County Road in Palm Beach will have a costumed event titled "Shmatte Ball and Dinner" beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 28. For more information, call 561-832-0804 or go to www.tepb.org.

Boca Beach Chabad, will be celebrating Purim with "Purim at the Improv" taking place on March 1 at 5:30 p.m. at The Pavilion, 301 Yamato Road in Boca Raton starring comedian Marc Weiner.

"Purim is celebrated with joy and laughter, so having a comedian is a perfect way to celebrate," said Rabbi Ruvi New of Boca Beach Chabad.

For more information, call 561-394-9770 or go to www.chabadbocabeaches.com.

Two congregations will be celebrating Purim as if one is living in Africa. .Palm Beach Synagogue, 120 N. County Road in Palm Beach, will be having a "Purim Safari" on Feb. 28 at 6:45 p.m. with dinner and Shalot Manot baskets among other surprises at the event. For more information, call 561-838-9002 or go to www.palmbeachsynagogue.org.

Chabad Jewish Center of Palm Beach, 844 Prosperity Farms Road in Palm Beach will have a "Purim in Africa" event on March 24 at 4 p.m. featuring African style food, African hair braiding, along with a Megillah reading. For more information, call 561-624-7004 or go to www.chabadcenterpalmbeach.com.

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NJ firm picks up rental portfolio in Palm Beach County

Palm Beach townhouse and condo portfolio

A Rochester, New York-based investment firm just sold a three-property portfolio in Palm Beach County to a New Jersey investor for $19.1 million.

Companies controlled by John Summers and Kenneth Marvald sold a 100-unit portfolio to LLCs managed by Austin Rolnick of Pentaurus Real Estate Investment & Management. The deal includes the 40-unit townhouse development St. Charles Landing at 100 Harrington Court in Palm Springs; the 32 condos at Whispering Winds at 4100 Coquina Winds Way in Greenacres; and 28 of 34 townhouses at Villas Santorini at 4624 Villas Santorini Drive in unincorporated Palm Beach, according to Marcus & Millichap’s Joseph Thomas.

Thomas, Adam Duncan and Tyler Carbonelli brokered the deal. The sellers are Charles Landing LLC, Wallace Street LLC and Santorini Condos LLC, and the buyers are Acastus Charles Landing LLC, Arion Whispering Palms LLC and Argos Santorini LLC.

The portfolio sold for its $19.1 million asking price and was fully leased at closing, Thomas said. The deal includes 15 buildings and two clubhouses built between 2007 and 2015.

Rents averaged $1,427 or $0.79 per square foot at St. Charles Landing; $1,534 or $0.86 per square foot at Whispering Winds; and $1,934 or $0.82 per square foot at Villas Santorini, according to marketing materials.

Last year, Pentarus paid $7.2 million for a 72-unit apartment complex in West Palm Beach. The company also owns properties in Palm Springs, Boyton Beach and Fort Lauderdale.

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