The Appellate Division yesterday affirmed the lower court’s decision affirming the 2008 property assessment of a 55,000 sq. ft. estate in Moorestown. The subject property, known as “Villa Collina,” boasts approximately 55,542 sq. ft. of improvements, and 29,236 sq. ft. of living space situated on approximately 7.2 acres, which is part of a larger 44 acre parcel. The New York Times claimed that the residence is larger than Moorestown’s Town Hall, public library, and the police headquarters combined. The Appellate Division illustrated the house in its opinion as the following:
“[T]he home is built in an Italianate style and boasts a Barre granite façade, granite terraces, cascading waterfalls and several reflecting pools. There are six bedrooms and eleven full bathrooms. The walls and floor of the two-story foyer are marble. A fountain of black onyx marble anchors a circular marble staircase to the second floor. The living room is topped by a large circular dome with a Venetian plaster finish. There are three kitchens (two on the first floor and a commercial kitchen in the basement), a gym, a library, two massage rooms, a hair salon, a billiards room, six storage or pantry rooms, laundry and trash rooms, a wine cellar, and two “viewing rooms” for admiring the landscape. The two-story “Lemon Room,” a sort of orangery for lemon trees, was added in 2006.”
Following a three-day trial at the Tax Court, the Tax Court judge affirmed the assessment. On appeal, plaintiffs argued that the municipality underwent a revaluation in 2008 and thus the Tax Court should have rejected the Township’s experts “because they were contractually obligated to defend their appraised values in challenges to their 2008 revaluation.” The Appellate Division noted that this argument “borders on the frivolous” and did not find such a factor to be a disqualifying bias. The Appellate Division further affirmed the lower court’s application of an entrepreneurial profit in its calculation and rejection of plaintiff’s expert’s opinion of a 75% depreciation rate in the expert’s cost approach. Plaintiff’s expert simply took his comparable sales approach value ($10,125,000), deducted the value allocated to land ($1,550,000), and compared it to the figure that he estimated to be the cost of reproducing plaintiffs’ home in 2008 ($33,850,000). Since a hypothetical willing buyer would pay $10,125,000 for the subject property that cost $33,850,000 to build, the expert concluded that it resulted in a 75% rate of depreciation. The Appellate Division agreed with the Tax Court that this particular methodology in calculating the depreciation rate was flawed.
To say the property is a mansion is an understatement. For a visual of what some claim to be the largest private residence in New Jersey, please click here.
The Appellate Division’s opinion can be read here.