A 1940s home in Phipps Plaza – one of Palm Beach’s few designated historic areas – has sold for just under $10 million to a Highland Beach businessman.

Bruce Leeds bought the three-bedroom house at 218 Phipps Plaza as trustee of a trust in his name, according to the deed registered March 25 for $9.98 million.

Multiple Listings Service records this week showed the Leeds-built custom beachfront mansion in Highland Beach was under contract with an asking price of $45 million.

The house Leeds bought in Phipps Plaza was once made up of two apartment buildings. They were designed in 1947 by the late architect Belford Shoumate, who had his home and studio next door. The identical apartment buildings were combined into a single-family home in 1994, according to building records. In all, the home has 4,744 square feet of living space, both inside and out.

Phipps Plaza’s seller was artist Bob Hiemstra Jr., who along with her late husband, interior designer Michael Formica, purchased the home for $1.275 million in early 2013. They performed a comprehensive supervised renovation by Palm Beach architects Jeffery Smith and his colleague. Bill Boyle of Smith Architectural Group, Hiemstra told the Palm Beach Daily News late last year.

Find out more about the house that has just been sold:A landmark with “character and charm” at 218 Phipps Plaza

Leeds has been a vice president of Global Industrial Company, formerly Systemax, since 1995, according to the industrial distribution company’s website. He spent more than 40 years with the company and previously served as President of International Operations. Based in Port Washington, NY, the company has a location in Boca Raton.

It offers customers “more than one million products – ranging from material handling to packaging and supplies – including its own exclusive Global Industrial brands,” the website says.

In Highland Beach, Leeds and his wife, Marina, resided in a custom beachfront home that was completed in 2013 at 2455 S. Ocean Blvd., property records show. Bruce Leeds has made it his primary residence in the Palm Beach County tax rolls since 2015.

At the rear of the house at 218 Phipps Plaza in Palm Beach, balconies with filigree railings overlook the pool and pool deck with brick inserts.

The sale at Phipps Plaza was handled on both sides by Sotheby’s International Realty agent Christine Gibbons, also known as Tina Roberts.

She listed the property in mid-November at $15 million and then dropped the price to $12.5 million, according to MLS. She confirmed her involvement in the sale but made no further comment. His customers were not immediately reachable.

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The house is in the northwest quadrant of Phipps Plaza and is set back from the street with a front yard.

When Hiemstra and Formica purchased the house, there were still architectural reminders that it had once been two buildings.

“That’s what we walked into: a house with two staircases and four fireplaces,” Hiemstra previously told the Daily News. “We wanted to preserve all of its character and charm – it has a lot of it – and we wanted to bring it into the 21st century.”

The foyer is flanked by two staircases and the first floor layout also includes a living room, library, family room, kitchen and dining room. The bedrooms are on the second floor and each opens onto a balcony. Two of the bedrooms have high cypress ceilings.

One block north of Royal Palm Way, Phipps Plaza was developed in 1924 by John S. Phipps as a commercial and residential enclave. Grouped around a median strip, the enclave features commercial and residential buildings designed by a who’s who of Palm Beach’s first-generation architects, including Addison Mizner and Maurice Fatio.

The designation of the enclave in 1982 as a city historic district protects the exterior walls of buildings from significant changes without the approval of the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Beverly Knight, broker/owner of Ocean Estate Properties, listed the Leeds home in Highland Beach for sale in late January, according to MLS. This eight bedroom home sits on 1.88 acres with 151 feet of direct waterfront. The home has 23,625 square feet of living space, inside and out, according to property records.

Knight confirmed she was not involved in the sale of Palm Beach but declined further comment.


This is a developing story. Check back for updates.


Darrell Hofheinz is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network of Florida who writes about Palm Beach real estate in his weekly “Beyond the Hedges” column. It welcomes advice on real estate news on the island. Email [email protected], call (561) 820-3831 or tweet @PBDN_Hofheinz. Help support our journalism. Subscribe today.

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