Delray Beach: Littlefield gets swath of Fox property for garden

By Margie Plunkett

    The Fontaine Fox property is losing a 50-foot swath of land to a garden owned by the daughter of Miracle-Gro’s founder.
    Now owned by developer Frank McKinney, that slice of Fontaine Fox history will become the property of Kate Littlefield, whose father, Horace Hagedorn, started Miracle-Gro, but it will still retain its historic designation and be subject to Historic Preservation Board regulations. 
    “It’s all about her garden,” architect Gary Eliopoulos told the Historic Preservation Board in November. “Kate wants to purchase  the land to provide a buffer for her property.”
    The 2.5-acre Fontaine Fox property consists of three adjacent parcels, the first an oceanfront property. A second parcel is on the west side of Ocean Boulevard.  And a third parcel is west of the second, with its westernmost boundary at Andrews Avenue.
    The north portion of the third parcel is the historically designated area that would become Littlefield’s and would join parcels due north that Littlefield already owns.
    The Fontaine Fox House, on the second property, was designed by South Florida architect John Volk, whose clients also included the Vanderbilts, Duponts and Pulitzers. Fontaine Fox, who died at 80 in 1964, wrote and illustrated a popular cartoon panel called Toonersville Folks than ran in as many as 300 newspapers a day from 1913 to 1955.
    Among later owners of the property, also known as Ocean Apple Estates, was the family of Mott’s Apple Sauce fame. It was placed on the Local Register of Historic Places in 1989 for its architectural and cultural significance. 
    Littlefield has owned large properties throughout the country consisting of hundreds of acres, Eliopoulos said.
The northern two Delray Beach properties, which are not in the jurisdiction of the Historic Preservation Board, have a home and grassy land; “She’s trying to give as much as she can to her dog,” he said.
    No dwelling will be allowed on the 50-foot deep property, although Littlefield wanted the right to build a garden shed, Eliopoulos said.
    “The impact is a positive one — less buildable area,” said Historic Preservation Planner Amy E. Alvarez.
    The land transfer reduces McKinney’s third parcel by 40 percent, “So you’re going to have a smaller lot with a smaller structure,” she said. “It’s a positive thing.”
    The Fontaine Fox property is restricted to three homes, but currently has two — the Fontaine Fox House and a 2,400-square-foot house on the ocean property at 615 N. Ocean Boulevard. A previously proposed plan included a road and four or five houses, Eliopoulos said. The plan was denied, according to a memo from Alvarez to the Historic Preservation Board.
    McKinney’s website lists the price of the entire vacant parcel on the west side of his property at 610 N. Ocean Boulevard for sale for $1.3 million.         Littlefield’s family still operates the Hagedorn garden empire.
Her father died in 2005, but not before a merger resulted in what today is the Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. Littlefield’s brother, Jim Hagedorn, is chairman and CEO of the company, while she is a company director and chair of its largest shareholder, Hagedorn Partnership L.P., according to
    Delray Beach commissioners approved an amendment to the Fontaine Fox House Ordinance of 1989 during their Nov. 15 meeting. A public hearing was set for Dec. 6.

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