Tuesday July 17, 2012

STOCKBRIDGE -- The historic Elm Court estate on Old Stockbridge Road -- the last of the Berkshire cottages held in family ownership -- has been sold for $9.8 million to a group based in Colorado.

The sale of the 55,000-square-foot mansion on 44 acres is believed to be the highest price paid for a residential property in Berkshire County history. A 44-acre property on Summit Road in Richmond sold for $6.9 million in January 2007.

Elm Court was built in 1886 as the summer home of William Douglas Sloane, whose family owned a prominent furniture company, and Emily Thorn Vanderbilt, the granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt.

Elm Court Realty LLC, which includes the property's longtime owners, Robert and Sonya Berle, sold Elm Court to Front Yard LLC of Denver, according to documents on file at the Middle Berkshire Registry of Deeds.

Elm Court had been the last of the Berkshire cottages to have remained in the family of its original owners. Robert Berle is a descendant of William Douglas Sloane.

Front Yard LLC is associated with Amstar, a Denver-based real estate investment firm, and Travassa Destination Resorts & Spas, which runs high-end destination spas in Maui, Hawaii, and Austin, Texas.

Town Administrator Jorja-Ann Marsden said representatives of those companies met with the Selectmen in June. She believes that the new owners plan to run Elm Court as a hotel/spa.

Front Yard LLC has ob tained an $8 million mortgage on the 90-acre property, according to documents on file at the registry. The registry received $44,802 in excise tax associated with the sale of the property, according to Middle Berkshire Register of Deeds Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr.

The Berles, who live in South Carolina, could not be reached for comment. They bought Elm Court from the family estate in 1999, then spent several years restoring the mansion and grounds to its original state, while updating many of its mechanical systems.

On the National Register of Historic Places since 1985, the mansion has 106 rooms and the estate includes cottages, a greenhouse, and a carriage house. The mansion is the largest American shingle-style house in the United States. The estate's grounds were designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted.

The Berles obtained permits from the town to operate a small luxury bed and breakfast on the property, but decided to put Elm Court on the market for $21.5 million in 2005. In July 2006, a deal to sell the property to a Florida-based hotel business fell through. The selling price was then lowered to $17.5 million, before the property was taken off the market a few years ago.

Alton & Westall of William stown, who had brokered the potential sale to the hotel business six years ago, are no longer involved with the property, according to a company spokesperson.

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6224.
On Twitter: @tonydobrow



Big deals

Some of the large real estate deals in Berkshire County:

1. Elm Court on Old Stockbridge Road, Stockbridge, former property of Robert and Sonya Berle, sold for $9.8 million in July 2012.

2. Southmayd Farm on Glendale Middle Road, Stockbridge, former property of Charles and Carol Shulze, sold for $6.9 million in January 2007.

3. Eastover Resort and Conference Center on East Street, Lenox, former property of Dorothy "Ticki" Winsor and Betsy Kelly, sold for $5 million in March 2010.

4. Rock Ridge estate on Tyringham Road, Monterey, former property of Robert and Virginia Duffy, sold for $4.05 million in April 2007.

5. Fernside, estate on Jerusalem Road, Tyringham, former property of Barbara Crosby and the late J. Player Crosby, sold for $3.9 million in September 2004.

6. West Sheffield Road property, Great Barrington, former property of Robert and Jacqueline Spielman, sold for $3.66 million in November 2004.

7. 28 Yale Hill, Stockbridge, former property of Tammis Day, sold for $3.5 million in February 2005.

8. Boulder Farm, Stockbridge, former property of Daniel T.M. Dempsey and Steven J. Rufo, sold for $3.235 million in December 2006.

9. Baldwin Hill property, Egremont, former property of Margaret Brownell, sold for $3.125 million in April 2003.

-- Source: Eagle files.