Mega-Mansion Developer Goes Green

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After 20 years of building one-of-a-kind mansions that sell for as much as $135 million, Frank McKinney, (http://www.frank-mckinney.com) the "Real Estate Rock Czar," is taking the colossal gamble that among the 50,000 people in the world who can afford his masterpieces there is one who wants a spectacular mansion that is certified green. In July, McKinney officially commenced construction of the largest and most expensive certified environmentally friendly mansion ever built in the world.

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After 20 years of building one-of-a-kind mansions that sell for as much as $135 million, Frank McKinney, (http://www.frank-mckinney.com) the "Real Estate Rock Czar," is taking the colossal gamble that among the 50,000 people in the world who can afford his masterpieces there is one who wants a spectacular mansion that is certified green. In July, McKinney officially commenced construction of the largest and most expensive certified environmentally friendly mansion ever built in the world.

The $25 million speculative mansion spanning from ocean-to-Intracoastal in Manalapan, Fla., will be the first home of its size to be certified green by the rigorous environmental standards of the U.S. Green Building Council and the Florida Green Building Council.

The goal, says McKinney, is to create an estate that is rooted in nature. As impressive as it will look, its green appeal lies in the following features:

  • enough solar panels to cover a regulation-size basketball court and could generate enough energy for two average-size homes;
  • a water system that collects enough "gray" runoff water to fill the average swimming pool every 14 days;
  • enough reclaimed wood to save 7.5 acres of Brazilian rain forest;
  • renewable woods that regenerate every three years vs. every 50 years for other hardwoods;
  • pools, reflecting ponds, water gardens, misters, etc., to drop the site temperature 3 - 5 degrees over neighboring properties;
  • recycling 340,000 pounds of debris during construction; and
  • air-conditioning and air purification systems four times better than an operating room in the Mayo Clinic.

Inspired by McKinney's trips to Bali, Fiji, Tahiti and Hawaii, the three-story, 15,000 square foot mansion will feature thatched roofs, meandering water gardens, floating sun terraces, a waterfall spa with a fire feature in the water, an interior acrylic main floor with moving water below, a 24' sheer water wall with fog/smoke screen on which moving images are projected, a suspended double-helix main glass staircase, a hand-blown chandelier that mixes electricity with water, an arched aquarium wet bar with views from below and a guesthouse constructed out of palm and bamboo that is partially submerged in a lagoon.

McKinney's audacious design is three times larger and 25 times more expensive than any green home attempting to gain certification by the USGBC.

The USGBC's standards are so rigorous that only 90 new homes out of a total of 3.5 million new homes built in the U.S. have achieved their green certification since the program's inception two years ago, and none of them rival the scope of McKinney's "Green Giant."

"The safe move for me would have been to create the type of oceanfront estate that is so popular in South Florida in the Mediterranean or Italian style, but I believe environmental stewardship is the future and I want this work of art to set the standard for responsible, luxury construction practices," said McKinney, who conducts business from his oceanfront tree house office that is connected to his home by a swinging wooden suspension bridge.

McKinney, always the centerpiece of the works of art he creates, donned the green garb of Robin Hood, the rogue hero of history, myth and self-styled king of the greenwood, for the ground greening.

In McKinney fashion, which never can be described as typical, the event was not a usual groundbreaking; rather, it was a ground greening, with officials adding an abundance of pristine sand to nourish the site. And in contrast to previous McKinney unveilings where "the king of ultra high-end real estate" made his grand entrance on the world's fastest production motorcycle, a racing boat or a flashy sports car with pyrotechnics in the background, the new "green McKinney" arrived n the hybrid vehicle he now favors.

McKinney has seen the green light. As a 43-year-old family man and two-time best-selling author who is committed to raising millions of dollars for his Caring House Project Foundation that builds housing for the poor in Haiti, South America, the Caribbean and here in the U.S., McKinney explains with a Biblical verse the dichotomy of being the creator of the most beautiful mansions in the world as well as a champion of the poor with a humble heart: "To whom much is entrusted, much will be expected." Like a modern-day Robin Hood, McKinney likes to say he sells to the rich to give to the poor.

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KATIE LENNON

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