Landmarks board approves new landscaping

The Mar-a-Lago Club will be shedding some trees and shrubs on its south side and replacing them with new ones.

During its monthly meeting Sept. 21, the Landmarks Preservation Commission conditionally approved the club’s request to remove invasive Australian pine trees and seagrape shrubs along Southern Boulevard and replace them with native plants that match the landscape buffer that was installed last year on the eastern end of the property.

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Mar-a-Lago, at 1100 S. Ocean Blvd., asked for the plants to be removed because they were in poor condition, Dustin Mizell, a landscape architect with Environment Design Group, told the commission.

An arborist’s report submitted to the town noted that the vegetation, which is situated at the bend along South County Road, has a higher probability of failure impacting traffic to and from the island.

Commission members said they agreed with that determination.

“Those pines are in really scrubby shape,” Moran said. “They are an invasive species.”

The commission’s approval also includes the removal of damaged bougainvillea vines and minor improvements to the 17-acre club’s parking landscape.

The matter will return to the commission this month for final approval after Environment Design Group, the project’s Palm Beach-based landscape architect, presents an elevation study.

Town Council approval is not needed for the project to move forward, the town said.

“I think the improvements are going to be great,” commissioner Bridget Moran said before the board voted unanimously to approve a certificate of appropriateness for the project. “It’s going to look more manicured,” she said, adding that it would be more in keeping with what one would associate with “coming into an entrance to the island of Palm Beach. That’s a huge improvement.”

Mar-a-Lago was built for cereal-company heiress and socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post and her husband, Edward F. Hutton, in 1927.

Former President Donald Trump purchased the 126-room, 62,500-square-foot mansion in 1985, and used it as a private residence until 1993 before converting it into the private Mar-a-Lago Club.

Mar-a-Lago was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1980.

Jodie Wagner is a journalist at the Palm Beach Daily News, part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. You can reach her at Help support our journalism. Subscribe today.

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