A record sale brings full circle the amazing story of a West Palm Beach landmark that made room for one agent’s dream home.
Every Corcoran agent is an expert at moving houses, but one of them has quite a bit of practical experience in the matter.
Agent Marla Fountain, you see, was not only responsible (with agent Amy Triggs) for setting a record for the highest sale on Flagler Drive, West Palm Beach — but she was responsible for literally moving the home that occupied the site previously.
As South End residents for a decade at the time, Marla and her husband Don walked along the Flagler Drive almost daily, dreaming of finding the perfect home along that grand avenue — one with wonderful views, access to the water, and a large enough lot to expand as their family grew. By 2000, they had three daughters seven and younger, and wanted to give them the perfect home.
A truly obsessive observer of real estate, she and Don kept a list of addresses that might suit their needs. One in particular always headed the list: 6215 South Flagler Drive. It was a corner lot directly across the drive from the Intracoastal, large and well-situated. There was a stately brick home on the property, built around 1935 for a doctor and his family. In 1973, it was sold to a local attorney who had raised a fine family there — and it just so happened that the lawyer and Marla attended the same church.
Marla and Don couldn’t stop dreaming about that property. It seemed to have everything they wanted, and they approached the lawyer asking if he’d sell. He said no. They asked again, and he said no again. Sunday upon Sunday — though not so often as to be impolite — they’d broach the subject again, and the answer was always no. Until one day in 2000, the owner asked them over for a visit after the sermon, and it seemed that their dreams were finally coming true. A deal was reached, and a sale arranged —with the caveat that the house would not be torn down. “Buddy,” Marla remembers saying to Don, “What are we going to do now?”
Dreams — especially big ones — have a habit of turning into nightmares, and that almost happened at 6215. When the Fountains brought in an architect to make a plan for renovating the home, he had one big suggestion: demolition. The home was nowhere near code, built on ground that was too low and not well stabilized, and wasn’t laid out for the way the Fountains wanted to live. They had a dream lot, but a dream home seemed impossible unless they broke a promise.
Until they came up with the idea to move it. The Fountains decided to donate the structure to the Victory Children’s Home, but it proved too far inland to make a relocation practical. Instead, they made the donation, then loaded the brick home onto a truck and onto a barge, moving it three miles north. The new owner — who paid the children’s home for the house — welcomed it happily if nervously at the Corner of Barcelona and Olive in the El Cid neighborhood, where it became one of the first homes there to receive historic designation — guaranteeing, per the Fountain’s promise, that it could never be torn down. The home recently sold for $3 million.
Marla and Don now had the best lot in West Palm Beach, ¾ acres, and a chance to raise the elevation of the new home. Rather than drive pilings, they brought in a specialized drilling company to put in 380 columns under the foundation. And the architect — who had had plenty of time to think while the old home was being moved — presented a magnificent plan for a home of more than 10,000 square feet. The resulting home became the showpiece of Flagler Drive, a place for parties and the important moments of their daughters’ lives.
But recently — just as it had happened back in 2000 — the children were gone and it was time for the Fountains to work on another dream. “That was always how we’d planned it,” says Marla. “We’d never seen this as our forever home.” The couple put the house on the market, but Marla knew it needed a refresh.
Out of the blue, they got a phone call from Kips Bay, the annual decorator show house. As a fundraiser, 20-plus nationally recognized designers would transform the home room-by-room and give money-raising tours. But the Fountains would have to move house — and quickly. “Sixteen years of accumulated life, and we had to get it out in a month,” Marla recalls.
The couple relisted the home after the show, this time with the expert help of Corcoran’s Amy Triggs. They toned down some of the more outlandish designs and priced the place high. They were in no hurry to leave and had a feeling the market would catch up. And boy, did it.
“One of the first people to see it ended up buying it,” says Marla. “They came and looked and disappeared for a while, then circled back with me 400 days later. I was thrilled. When you sell the place where you raised your family, who you sell it to really matters, and I’m so happy this was the family who gets to call it home.” She does admit to driving by occasionally and waving to her old home.
“Still, we’re out, and it’s theirs now,” she laughs. “We didn’t even make them promise not to tear it down.”