Roy and Lea Black buy Star Island mansion for $7.1 million

Roy and Lea Black buy Star Island mansion for $7.1 million

Eric Kalis
Daily Business Review May 31, 2011

45 Star Island
Photo by Jill Kahn

Prominent Miami criminal defense attorney Roy Black and his wife are trading up from Coral Gables to Miami Beach’s exclusive Star Island.

Roy and Lea Black paid $7.1 million for a mansion at 45 Star Island Drive on Thursday.

Scott Kornspan, speaking on behalf of the Blacks, confirmed the sale Tuesday. Kornspan is managing partner of Black Srebnick Kornspan & Stumpf.

Jean Labrada, a manager for seller P&R Investment Corp., also confirmed the all-cash transaction, which has not yet been recorded by Miami-Dade County.

The two-story, 10,598-square-foot house, built on 1.11 bayfront acres in 1981, has nine bedrooms and nine bathrooms. It includes a swimming pool and boat dock and was most recently assessed at $7.46 million by Miami-Dade County’s property appraiser.

Calling the acquisition a “land purchase,” Kornspan said the Blacks have not decided whether to renovate the existing home or tear it down and rebuild.

“This was brought to [the Blacks] in January, and they went to contract in March,” Kornspan said. “Star Island is a wonderful place, and they have a lot of friends there. They very much look forward to moving to the island.”

In a statement sent to the Review, Black cited the opportunity to buy at Star Island home at an attractive price as motivation to make the acquisition.

“The real estate depression of the last few years has seriously lowered the prices of single family homes,” Black said. “I was not in the market to buy a home but when a property on Star Island becomes available at this price it is hard not to buy it. Star Island is the premier place to live in Miami and we have a lot of friends there so we decided to take the plunge. Time will tell if we made the right decision.”

“When we saw the chance [to buy] this property, I took the Blacks there and said this is the best we are going to get at this price,” according to Engel & Voelkers broker Lourdes Alatriste, who represented the couple in the deal.

A criminal defense attorney for more than 40 years, Roy Black has handled high-profile clients in Florida and throughout the United States during his career. Some of Black’s most recognizable clients include William Kennedy Smith, nephew of President John F. Kennedy and Sens. Robert F. and Ted Kennedy; conservative radio talk host Rush Limbaugh; and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves. Black successfully defended Castroneves against charges of income tax evasion in 2009.

Lea Black, who is active in political fundraising and philanthropic organizations, was a cast member on the Bravo reality TV show Real Housewives of Miami.

The Blacks also own a home at 832 S. Greenway Drive in Coral Gables, according to Miami-Dade County records. The historic home is known as the Merrick House because Coral Gables founder George Merrick built it and moved there after developing the city.

‘Smartest Investment’
P&R first put the mansion on the market in 2007, according to Labrada, whose mother, also named Jean, had lived there alone in recent years.

The Labrada family purchased the land in 1978 and built the house three years later, she said.

“I grew up there,” Labrada said. “The only reason we sold it is because my mom is a widow and all of her kids are married and don’t live in Miami. It was too much for just my mom.”

Calling the Blacks’ purchase “the smartest investment they ever made,” Labrada said the house does not need to be demolished.

“It’s totally livable,” she said. “This is not a tear-down; it should be remodeled. Upgrades of the kitchen and bathrooms to the standards people demand nowadays for custom homes” would be sufficient.

Initially listed at $19.8 million, the asking price was reduced several times by different brokers over the last four years, Labrada said.

P&R was represented in the sale by Hector Vazquez and Jeri Jenkins, sales associates at Coldwell Banker.

The brokers had the listing since February 2010, Vazquez said.

“There was consistent interest,” he said. ‘We went through periods where it slowed down a bit, but we were well-positioned in making sure the listed price was in line with what was currently happening on the market. We had a couple of price reductions, and every time we did that it generated a lot of interest.”

The 45 Star Island Drive sale is the latest in a string of deals in South Florida’s high-end housing market.

The Blacks’ purchase is the third transaction on the island in just over a month. On May 2, Jeannette Varela sold a 27 Star Island Drive mansion for $10.75 million to Starboard Florida IV, a Miami Beach-based company managed by John Jansheski.

In what was believed to be the most expensive Miami Beach residential sale since 2006, Denver oil executive Thomas H. Morgan on April 28 sold a house at 13 Star Island Drive for $25.5 million to Delaware corporation E&A Estates LLC. The sale was the priciest transaction involving a single-family home in Miami-Dade County since developer Ugo Columbo purchased Carl Fisher’s 5020 N. Bay Road mansion in 2006. That deal, which was reported to be between $31 million and $35 million, was never recorded by Miami-Dade County.

“There is definitely an uptick we are seeing in the high-end market, not just on Star Island but in neighborhoods like North Bay Road,” said Palm Beach real estate attorney Charles Ratner.

Ratner was not involved in the 45 Star Island transaction. He represented Morgan in the 13 Star Island sale.

“There are only so many houses on [Star] Island,” Ratner said. “It is certainly insulated from the rest of the housing market. In the next six months, we will see a lot of activity [on the island] and a lot of upgrading” of existing homes

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