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Historic Home Brings a Touch of France to Texas

December 19th, 2014 admin

  • Price: $19,500,000
  • Location: Austin, TX

This Austin estate sits on more than 5 acres and includes a copy of the Belvedere Pavilion at Versailles — Sarah Tilton

The Ultimate Heirloom

December 19th, 2014 admin

The home of Bob and Carol Rogers in Cashiers, N.C. ‘This is a place we’re going to pass on to our kids,’ says Mr. Rogers, a 58-year-old from Longboat Key, Fla. who built the four-bedroom home in Cashiers, N.C., after selling his commercial-contracting firm. ‘Twenty, thirty years from now, our kids can cherish it with all their kids,’ he adds.

Here is the living room. Over the holidays, the couple will host their grown children, spouses and grandkids at their 6,800-square-foot mountain home.

A chess set made by a local woodworker is seen in the living room.

The master bedroom.

In the summer, the Rogers’s two sons got married at the house. Next year, the couple plans to build cottages to accommodate the growing family, which now numbers 10. Here is the kitchen.

Family pictures line the walls along the stairs. The home has been placed in a family trust, with the Rogers’s three kids, their spouses and children as beneficiaries.

The dining room and kitchen. The Rogers paid $5 million for the 12-acre lot and the house, built in 2008, at the Mountaintop Golf & Lake Club community.

A view of the back of the home. Mr. Rogers spent $1.2 million on improvements to the land, which included stonework and a waterfall.

An outdoor fireplace.

A stone patio and fire pit overlook the mountains. Allen Halcomb, president of MossCreek, the Knoxville, Tenn.-based home-design firm that built the Rogers’s home, recommends open floorplans that create togetherness, with different areas for separate activities, such as cooking, playing or watching television.

Bob and Carol Rogers in a portrait at their home.

Some legacy properties are monuments to their patriarchs. LordPharaoh ImhotepAmonRa, owner and chief executive officer of Egyptian Magic skin cream, is putting the finishing touches on a 21,000-square-foot estate under construction in College Park, Ga., outside Atlanta.

Mr. AmonRa, who changed his name in 1998 from Westley Howard to sound more Egyptian, bought the Mediterranean-style house out of foreclosure in April 2013 for $1.3 million and spent another $800,000 to remodel it.

Mr. AmonRa is equipping the home with an art gallery, arcade room and four-floor elevator.

The foyer of the 2,800-square-foot master bedroom suite includes a floor mural depicting the Eye of Horus, an Egyptian symbol.

This is the master bathroom. Mr. AmonRa’s friends and employees call him ‘Magic’ and he calls his new house ‘Magic Legacy Estate.’

‘Building a legacy home for my family has been the most rewarding endeavor as a patriarch,’ Mr. AmonRa, 69, says in an email. ‘This distinctive luxury home will be the backdrop to weddings, birthdays and the family celebrations we all cherish so much. You can’t take a house to the grave with you, but you can leave it behind to bless your family and generations to come.’

Mr. AmonRa is pictured.

Some estates never become legacies. Ginger and Robert McKee from Charlottesville, Va., are currently selling an oceanfront family compound with a main house and two guest cottages in Hunts Point, Nova Scotia, for $1.1 million. The trip to Canada from Virginia is long and got even longer when a high-speed ferry from Maine stopped operating. The couple’s daughters, now married, are busy with work, children and husbands who cannot get away as often as they hoped.

The large family home of Mark and Jayelene Betonti near Charlottesville, Va., is listed for $4.5 million. The couple decided to sell because their children are graduating from nearby schools.

Over the holidays, Bob and

Carol Rogers

will host their grown children with spouses and the grandkids at their 6,800-square-foot mountain home in the Carolinas. With the grandchildren, Mr. Rogers plans to take walks, feed fish in the pond and roast marshmallows over a fire pit.

Earlier this year, the couple’s two sons got married at the house. Next year, the couple plans to build cottages to accommodate the growing family, which now numbers 10.

“This is a place we’re going to pass on to our kids,” says Mr. Rogers, a 58-year old from Longboat Key, Fla., who built the four-bedroom home in Cashiers, N.C., after selling his commercial-contracting firm. “Twenty, thirty years from now, our kids can cherish it with all their kids,” he adds.

The Rogers paid $5 million for the 12-acre lot and the house, built in 2008, at the Mountaintop Golf & Lake Club community. Mr. Rogers spent an additional $1.2 million on improvements to the land, which included stonework and a waterfall. The home has been placed in a family trust, with the couple’s three children, their spouses and children as beneficiaries.

Affluent Americans are increasingly building or buying legacy properties—multimillion-dollar compounds designed to be shared with extended family now and for generations to come. Fueling interest is the rise of multigenerational living and vacationing; compounds also provide a gathering place for families that are spread across the globe. Of course, complex family dynamics, busy lifestyles or logistical issues can often foil the most lavish plans for a legacy home.

To make legacy homes fun for all ages, architects are designing large properties with resort-style amenities. The homes typically include multiple master bedrooms or mini-apartments. For entertainment, some owners install croquet or volleyball courts, as well as swimming pools suitable for fitness laps and splashing grandkids. Cousins can bond in home theaters with stadium-style seating or teen zones with giant video walls for digital games. Lakefront or seaside properties often come with private docks, boat houses or beaches, while many farm or ranch estates include shooting ranges or equestrian facilities.

“People think just because they have a big house, their kids and grandkids will come visit them,” said

Rand Soellner,

owner of Home Architects, a Cashiers, N.C.-based company that specializes in family compounds. “But if you’re going to get young kids to come, you have to offer something really attractive.”

Allen Halcomb,

president of MossCreek, the Knoxville, Tenn.-based home-design firm that built the Rogers family’s North Carolina home, recommends open floor plans that create togetherness, with different areas for separate activities, such as cooking, playing or watching television.

Practical concerns emerge as well. Family estates, architects say, need motor courts or multiple-car garages. Large kitchens should include two refrigerators. Dining rooms must be flexible enough to accommodate large gatherings.

LordPharaoh ImhotepAmonRa is putting the finishing touches on a 21,000-square-foot estate under construction in College Park, Ga.
ENLARGE

Some legacy properties are monuments to their patriarchs. LordPharaoh ImhotepAmonRa, owner and chief executive of Egyptian Magic skin cream, is putting the finishing touches on a 21,000-square-foot estate under construction in College Park, Ga., outside Atlanta. Mr. AmonRa, who changed his name in 1998 from

Westley Howard

to sound more Egyptian, is equipping the home with an art gallery, arcade room and four-floor elevator. The nine-bedroom house also has three saunas with infrared heaters, which Mr. AmonRa saw at a health resort in Florida.

Mr. AmonRa, founder of a skin-cream company, bought the home, which was in foreclosure, for $1.3 million and has spent another $800,000 remodeling it.
ENLARGE

He bought the Mediterranean-style house out of foreclosure in April 2013 for $1.3 million and spent another $800,000 to remodel it. The Magic Legacy Estate, as the entrepreneur calls his new house, has a five-bedroom, 5,100-square-foot guesthouse, and he plans to add three additional homes on the 15-acre lot for his three daughters, 16, 19 and 40. These future amenities, which include tennis courts, a greenhouse and a picnic area, will cost another $500,000, he estimates.

“Building a legacy home for my family has been the most rewarding endeavor as a patriarch,” Mr. AmonRa, 69, says in an email. “This distinctive luxury home will be the backdrop to weddings, birthdays and the family celebrations….You can’t take a house to the grave with you, but you can leave it behind to bless your family and generations to come.”

Mr. AmonRa is treating himself as well. The foyer of his 2,800-square-foot master bedroom suite includes a floor mural depicting the Eye of Horus, an Egyptian symbol.

“I surprised him with designs that fit his character and personality,” says

Louis White,

whose Conyers, Ga.-based firm YDG Inc. redesigned the property.

In a survey conducted earlier this year, 64% of wealthy Americans said they were likely to buy a legacy home to keep in the family, according to a report published earlier this year by Sotheby’s International Realty, which surveyed about 700 affluent consumers around the world. Waterfront properties are the most popular choice for legacy-house buyers or builders, according to the firm.

“The notion of a legacy investment is increasingly front-of-mind with our affluent clients,” says

Mark Lowham,

managing partner at TTR Sotheby’s International Realty in Washington, D.C.

Real-estate agents say that large family estates or compounds cost a minimum of $5 million. In Nantucket, Mass., where waterfront estates often stay in families for generations, prices of legacy-caliber properties currently range from about $15 million to $40 million, according to

Steve DiFrancesco,

chief executive officer of Hunter, Reed and Co., a real-estate firm with offices in Nantucket and Philadelphia. Buyers of family estates, he notes, often flock to some of the same places, such as Nantucket, Palm Beach or Aspen.

“These buyers seek properties in locations which traditionally attract other affluent families and thereby represent secure long-term value,” says Mr. DiFrancesco.

Ginger and Robert McKee are selling an oceanfront family compound in Hunts Point, Nova Scotia, for $1.1 million.
ENLARGE

To protect these investments, planning is key.

Michael Passananti,

a partner with Chicago law firm Duggan Bertsch, emphasizes the need for what he calls the “four P’s.” Protection, privacy, probate avoidance and planning. Protection includes comprehensive insurance coverage for potential damage to the home, adequate liability coverage and an ownership structure that provides protection from outside creditors. To ensure an owner’s privacy, the home’s title should be held by a legal entity, such as a trust or limited-liability company, with a name not linked to the family. A lawyer or wealth-management professional can provide specifics on setting up a trust or legal entity that would ensure the estate avoids the lengthy probate process upon the owner’s death. When properly executed, the trust can also help families manage estate taxes.

Finally, Mr. Passananti says, owners of legacy homes should establish a clear succession plan that with detailed instructions on how the property should be managed, maintained and eventually passed down.

“It is a shame to see families fire-sale properties which have been in the family for four generations or fight over the real estate because a proper game plan was not implemented at the outset,” says Mr. Passananti, who specializes in estate and wealth-transfer planning.

Some estates never become legacies.

Ginger and

Robert McKee

from Charlottesville, Va., are selling an oceanfront family compound with a main house and two guest cottages in Hunts Point, Nova Scotia. When they built the home in 2009, the McKees, now both 66, were drawn to the ruggedly beautiful Atlantic shore and possibilities for boating and fishing. Mr. McKee, founding principal of a consulting firm that specializes in land planning, recalls a moment in August when the family gathered by the home’s outdoor fireplace. Adults were enjoying the ocean breeze and the children were dancing to music blaring through the open windows, when Mr. McKee’s young granddaughter hugged him and, for the first time, said she loved him.

Yet the trip to Canada from Virginia is long and got even longer when a high-speed ferry from Maine stopped operating. The McKees’ daughters, both married, are busy with work, children and husbands who can’t get away as often as they hoped. Mr. McKee himself is working more than expected. He is now asking $1.1 million for the compound, which is built of stone, cedar and pine and sits on 4 wooded acres.

“We are not using the place enough,” he says.

Corrections & Amplifications

An earlier version of this article and slideshow misstated the timing of two weddings at the home of Bob and Carol Rogers. They were both in 2014, but only one was in the summer.

Write to Cecilie Rohwedder at cecilie.rohwedder@wsj.com

Going Pro With Holiday Light-Hanging

December 19th, 2014 admin

A decked-out home in the Dyker Heights area of Brooklyn.
ENLARGE

Los Angeles is famous for a number of things—movie stars, beaches, traffic jams. The city also leads the nation in one measure of Christmas cheer—demand for holiday lighting services.

Of the country’s 50 largest markets, L.A. is tops in terms of homeowner requests for companies to hang their holiday lights, according to HomeAdvisor.com, a home-improvement review and referral website.


ENLARGE

Rounding out the top three are Dallas in second, followed by Chicago. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Milwaukee, which comes in last with the fewest lighting requests. A partial reason may be price. According to the HomeAdvisor numbers, Milwaukee has the highest average cost per job, clocking in at $671.

That’s almost 24% higher than the average cost in notoriously expensive New York City, the nation’s fifth-priciest lighting locale at $542 per job, and more than triple the cost in the country’s least expensive market, St. Louis, which has an average cost of $211.

The HomeAdvisor site allows users to enter details about a project they want to undertake. The website then matches them with prescreened pros who can give cost and time estimates. For the Spread Sheet analysis, HomeAdvisor compiled holiday-lighting requests from Nov. 1 to Dec. 5, 2014. The average costs are based on prices users reported paying for lighting projects from Jan. 1, 2008, through Dec. 5, 2014.

Milwaukee’s perch atop the price rankings strikes

Oscar Peterson,

owner of Milwaukee-area lighting company Holiday Creations, as a bit dubious, however.

“I’m good friends with a guy who does work in Chicago, and he has far more customers and charges more per customer than I can,” Mr. Peterson says.

In any case, he notes, the price and size of holiday lighting jobs varies widely. “I have a couple customers where it’s just hanging one wreath on a chimney that they can’t get to, and then there are other customers where I’m there with four or five guys for multiple days.”

Mr. Peterson says his company charges from $700 to $1,200 for a typical residential light-hanging job.

HomeAdvisor also broke down holiday-light demand by region, finding that the West Coast accounted for the largest portion—20%—of the country’s light-hanging requests, while the Upper Midwest accounted for the smallest, a mere 4%.

A Sanctuary Just North of New York City

December 17th, 2014 admin

  • Price: $2,975,000
  • Location: Harrison, NY

This Harrison, New York home is a serene estate that features open living spaces, a teahouse and Japanese gardens. –Erin McCarthy

A Sanctuary Just North of New York City

December 17th, 2014 admin

  • Price: $2,975,000
  • Location: Harrison, NY

This Harrison, New York home is a serene estate that features open living spaces, a teahouse and Japanese gardens. –Erin McCarthy

A Tiny Apartment Works Twice as Hard

December 17th, 2014 admin

To create his Gramercy Park apartment in Manhattan, Amir Khamneipur had to think small—670-square-feet small. Mr. Khamneipur, an interior designer, describes the living room-dining room-kitchen area shown here as “fabulous and functional.” He and his partner, Paul Nikolaidis, entertain in the space frequently—with at least one dinner party during the week and informal gatherings with friends most weekends. The couple has been known to host parties of 60 people in their home.

“With this space, we are able to have people over, which has brought a lot of happiness into our lives,” Mr. Khamneipur, 40 years old, says. “He’s Greek and I’m Persian, and both cultures are centered around entertaining.”

Photo credit: HearthCabinet Ventless Fireplaces

Las Vegas ‘Player’ Gets Bounced From Casino

December 17th, 2014 admin

Sam Nazarian, an owner of hip nightclubs-turned hotelier, was seen as a player in Las Vegas’s future. But his past has caught up with him.

Stockbridge Capital Partners said Tuesday that Mr. Nazarian no longer would be involved in the management of the new SLS Las Vegas hotel and casino that Stockbridge controls–a decision made after Mr. Nazarian told Nevada gambling regulators he was the victim of an alleged extortion scheme and had…

A Tiny Apartment Works Twice as Hard

December 17th, 2014 admin

To create his Gramercy Park apartment in Manhattan, Amir Khamneipur had to think small—670-square-feet small. Mr. Khamneipur, an interior designer, describes the living room-dining room-kitchen area shown here as “fabulous and functional.” He and his partner, Paul Nikolaidis, entertain in the space frequently—with at least one dinner party during the week and informal gatherings with friends most weekends. The couple has been known to host parties of 60 people in their home.

“With this space, we are able to have people over, which has brought a lot of happiness into our lives,” Mr. Khamneipur, 40 years old, says. “He’s Greek and I’m Persian, and both cultures are centered around entertaining.”

Photo credit: HearthCabinet Ventless Fireplaces

Las Vegas ‘Player’ Gets Bounced From Casino

December 17th, 2014 admin

Sam Nazarian, an owner of hip nightclubs-turned hotelier, was seen as a player in Las Vegas’s future. But his past has caught up with him.

Stockbridge Capital Partners said Tuesday that Mr. Nazarian no longer would be involved in the management of the new SLS Las Vegas hotel and casino that Stockbridge controls–a decision made after Mr. Nazarian told Nevada gambling regulators he was the victim of an alleged extortion scheme and had…

Elevators Set to Take New Direction

December 17th, 2014 admin

For more than a century, elevators have helped shape skylines around the world largely through the same technology: a car pulled up and down by a cable.

A new technology could change that.

Manufacturing giant


ThyssenKrupp
AG

is rolling out a cable-free elevator, a technology that—if it works as advertised—would allow multiple cars to run in the same shaft, and to run not just up and down but also diagonally and sideways.

While not quite on the level of Willy Wonka’s Great Glass Elevator, such a technology would permit buildings to stretch higher, with less space for elevator shafts, and to expand in new shapes, architects and engineers believe.

“I could almost not think of a technology that has the potential to fundamentally change tall buildings like this one,” said

Antony Wood,

executive director of the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, a skyscraper trade group.

Hurdles remain. While the company is starting its marketing for the technology, it doesn’t expect to complete a full-size prototype until 2016. And new technology often proves difficult to take from paper to reality.

In addition, the technology likely will cost significantly more than a traditional elevator, so it is unclear how often developers will choose to use it. ThyssenKrupp, based in Essen, Germany, declined to say how pricey such elevators might be.

Still, the company believes it has cracked the code and is marketing the technology, called Multi, to developers now so they can design towers with the new elevators in mind.

“Multi will change the landscape and the look of buildings,” said

Patrick Bass,

the incoming chief for North America at ThyssenKrupp, a giant in the elevator trade that is responsible for the elevators at the new One World Trade Center, among other towers.

Architects and engineers consider the current model unwieldy in tall towers because it generally is based on one elevator running per shaft, pulled by a cable from above. That takes up a large portion of a building’s square footage, particularly on the upper floors of a tapered tower.

A rendering of a tower using cable-free elevators that can run sideways as well as up and down.
ENLARGE

“Skyscraper heights are always limited by the fact that the shafts take up more and more space” the higher buildings go, said

Daniel Levinson Wilk,

a history professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology who studies the history of elevators.

Multi, by contrast, runs on magnetic levitation technology, akin to super-high-speed trains in Shanghai and Germany that use magnets to run frictionless and pull and push along a track. This allows for a far more efficient use of space because the technology works more like a train on a track, where one car can follow another up one shaft and then down another. As a result, ThyssenKrupp says it expects the space devoted to elevators can be cut by as much as half.

That can significantly affect the economics of skyscrapers. Less space for elevators means more leasable space, which in turn makes the prospect of constructing a tall building more appealing to developers and investors.

Mr. Bass said he believes the elevators will prove most economical for tall buildings of about 1,000 feet and higher, or about the height of New York’s Chrysler Building. That is a fast-growing category of buildings, particularly in China and the Middle East, where he believes there will be strong demand.

Such buildings would be even more commonplace, Mr. Bass believes, if existing elevator technology didn’t take up so much space.

“The reality is, we have limited the height of buildings as an industry,” Mr. Bass said.

While the company believes the main clientele will be developers of super-tall buildings, the technology, if successful, also would open the door for buildings of nontraditional shapes, since the elevators could push diagonally or horizontally. Going sideways isn’t quite as simple, because riders are more likely to shift as they do in a moving subway car, and may need to hold on to a pole or be strapped in, engineers said.

Peter Weismantle,

director of supertall rtechnology at Adrian Smith Gordon Gill Architecture in Chicago whose projects include the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, said it was too early to say just how readily the technology would be adopted, and there were likely challenges to moving horizontally. But for tall buildings, if it can save space, developers likely will look upon it well, he said.

“Anything to reduce the size of the core would be attractive to a landlord,” he said.

Write to Eliot Brown at eliot.brown@wsj.com