Sal Paone, a Montgomery County home developer, confirmed last week that he entered the $5.6 million winning bid for the 50-acre Arbor Hill estate that went up for auction last year after its former owner, ex-Advanta bank chief executive Dennis Alter, had tried to sell it for eight years.
Paone, who partnered with Jenkintown-based Goodman Properties, officially settled on the Fort Washington house in December. He said he intended to “make sure the house stays in good shape” and eventually sell it.
Arbor Hill, which Alter built just outside Philadelphia in the late 1990s for $80 million, had gone up for auction on the luxury property sale site Concierge Auctions in October. Concierge had declined to disclose the name of the winner or the winning price.
Paone’s bid of $5.6 million fell dramatically short of Montgomery County’s 2020 market-value appraisal of $15 million. It also was a fraction of how much Alter had tried to sell the house for in previous years: $30 million, then $12 million. At one point, the estate, which covers 70 acres, earned the title of the most expensive house in the Philadelphia region.
“Our real hope is that we get that special buyer to come through and get one heck of a house on 50 acres,” Paone said. He envisioned the estate would be a “good opportunity” for a large family or people from New York City looking to settle somewhere quieter.
Though he intended to sell it, he was dubious that he would list it on the Bright Multiple Listing Service, the traditional platform for selling residential properties.
“The residential market is kind of fixed, but this is such a unique property to just put on the MLS,” he said, “and waiting for someone to come along doesn’t make the most sense.”
As of April, he intended to keep the property as is, speculating that “anybody who buys a house like that is going to want their own input for how things are done.”
He had considered the possibility of remodeling the entire estate, which he noted has contemporary features that could be popular with home buyers, but said if he went ahead with the renovations, the contemporary style could be out of fashion by the time he completely finished work.
“We bought it because it’s a really magnificent home and a magnificent location,” he said. “When you go through the house, I can tell there’s so much thought and time that went into so many details.”
The house, designed by the renowned architect Rafael Viñoly, has 10 bedrooms, 9½ bathrooms, an indoor basketball court, six-car garage, and elevator.