Gulf Stream’s next and perhaps final subdivision was sidetracked another month in October and Gulf Stream’s recently annexed residents got their first commission seat.
Ballantrae resident W. Garrett Dering was appointed Oct. 24 to take Commissioner Chris Wheeler’s seat after Wheeler sold his house in Hidden Harbor Estates and resigned from office.
Dering’s first assignment: Learn enough about the Spence estate to vote Nov. 10 on subdividing it.
Seaside Builders LLC wants to buy the 6-acre-plus estate between State Road A1A and Hidden Harbor Estates, raze the 1937 British Colonial home and make six home sites in its place.
The proposal was on the Town Commission’s Oct. 14 agenda, but Wheeler, who lived just west of the Spence property, resigned the day before.
Mayor William Koch Jr. recused himself from the issue because his real estate firm listed the sale with a $6 million asking price.
And Vice Mayor Joan Orthwein said she has a potential conflict of interest: an active real estate license with Koch’s company.
“As a result, we will only have two people to vote on this, and that is not a quorum,’’ Town Attorney John “Skip’’ Randolph said.
Commissioners settled on Dering 10 days later.
Bob Ganger, chairman of the town’s Architectural Review and Planning Board and president of both the Gulf Stream Civic Association and the Florida Coalition for Preservation, also asked to be considered.
“We try to pick people from different areas like Place au Soleil,’’ Orthwein said, seizing on the opportunity to select someone from the 16.6-acre pocket Gulf Stream annexed in March.
“I do like the idea of having somebody from the new area as a representative, and a condominium person,’’ Commissioner Fred Devitt III said. Commissioner Muriel Anderson echoed his comment.
Dering, 65, did not attend the meeting. A certified public accountant and retired partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, he belongs to the Gulf Stream Bath and Tennis Club, the Country Club of Florida, and in Kentucky the Louisville Country Club and Louisville Boat Club. He and his wife have two sons; he bought his Ballantrae condo in 1999.
Dering will be a commissioner at least until March, when an election for the two remaining years of Wheeler’s term will take place.
Meanwhile, two more owners emerged in the lineage of the Spence estate.
John Caddell II, a third-generation shipyard operator in Staten Island, N.Y., said he and his mother bought the property in 1972 from typewriter heiress Gladys Underwood James. Caddell toyed with the idea of subdividing the western part of the property, what is now Hidden Harbor Estates, but sold it 18 months later to Edmond and Regina Spence.
The home on the estate was designed by noted Palm Beach architect John Volk. Caddell bought another Volk-designed home at 1600 S. Ocean Blvd. in Manalapan and in 1998 sold it to Donald Brennan, now a Manalapan town commissioner.
A yachtsman, Caddell has since assembled a winter compound in Ocean Ridge. He was disappointed to hear the plans for the Spence estate.
“It’s terrible they’re dividing it this way,’’ he said, adding he could abide making it two or three lots. “Six is an absolute crime.’’
Records at the county Property Appraiser’s Office show James bought the estate in 1957 from Gertrude Webb, widow of original owner Seward Webb Jr. Webb bought the land from financier E.F. Hutton in 1937. Hutton originally bought the acreage from the Gulf Stream Realty Co. in 1926.
Webb was a grandson of William H. Vanderbilt, in his time the richest man in the world; Webb’s wife was the daughter of a New York City mayor.
James also bought properties in Brooklyn Heights to block high-rise apartments from taking over the neighborhood in the late 1940s before New York City had a landmark preservation law.
Caddell said Spence, who died last December, traveled the world to find art to decorate her aging home.
“She enjoyed taking old things and making them beautiful again,” he said.
Gulf Stream’s architectural board deferred its review of Seaside’s proposal in July to give the developer and Hidden Harbor residents time to resolve their differences over drainage and access. The two sides signed an agreement shortly before the board reconvened in September.
Seaside said it was given permission to enter the home before the sale is completed and has begun compiling an architectural record of Volk’s creation.