Wellington: The Small Western Village with International Allure

By Taylor Slaughter

Wellington, Florida is known worldwide for its equestrian community, world class polo, and for the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) located at Wellington International on Pierson Road, formerly the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. Wellington is also known for its A-Rated schools, abundant parks, and small-town lifestyle. Drawing exhibitors and visitors from all corners of the world, Wellington’s seasonal sports economic impact reaches $280 million, according to the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County.

The real estate market in Wellington has grown along with the Village; with over 20,000 horses calling Wellington their home during the winter months, much of that real estate is horse farms. But Wellington’s future is expanding with more people calling Wellington home year-round. “Many of the exhibitors have purchased homes and farms simply because they spend more nights in Wellington than anywhere else,” says Martha Jolicoeur, Director of Luxury Real Estate and Associate Broker at Douglas Elliman, “Wellington is a fun town, so people often like to invite friends down to visit. Often those friends and relatives decide they’d like a place in Wellington to call their own.”

WELLINGTON, FL - NOVEMBER 8: Polo teams Audi and Grand Champions Polo Club competing in the Wanderer's Cup finals November 8, 2009 in Wellington, FL

The world class equestrian sports has defined Wellington as the Winter Equestrian Capital of the World. In 2024, WEF will run from January 3rd – March 31st and the Global Dressage Festival runs from January 10th – March 31st. Darlene Streit, Wellington resident, agent, and broker with Corcoran enjoys all that life [in Wellington] has to offer. “The need for horse farms and barns has left a rural feel here; it’s very green and lush. It’s truly all about the horses.” Beyond WEF and Dressage at Global, there are more horse shows that have emerged over recent years like the The Ridge show series run by US Olympic show jumper Nona Garson and George D’Ambrosio, White Fences Equestrian Center dressage shows, horse shows at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center, and more.

“You have it all [in Wellington]. A quieter, rural feeling, yet you can be at your favorite store, restaurant, or art gallery in Palm Beach or West Palm Beach in less than 30 minutes,” says Streit. But you don’t have to go outside the Village limits for great cuisine. Kontiki serves a vast array of sushi and Asian delights and if you’re looking for casual refinement, Kaluz is a popular choice for American fare, steak, and seafood. Also popular among residents is Sushi Moto, Casa Tequila for authentic Mexican fare and Lemongrass Asian Bistro. For burgers, you can’t beat Lindburger’s and don’t be surprised if you find the world’s best riders sitting at the next table.

The Wellington North Parcel

New Development on the Horizon
Land in Wellington is scarce, pushing Chief Executive Vice President Paige Bellissimo Nunez and CEO and Managing Partner Doug McMahon of Wellington Lifestyle Partners to petition the Village of Wellington to change the zoning ordinance for a portion of the Equestrian Preserve in order to build new development on that land. Wellington Lifestyle Partners is proposing an expansion of the WEF showgrounds to unite all equestrian sports in a single location, adding new roads to improve traffic flow to and from the horse show, new residential development, as well as a separate Main Street with shopping and residences.

On November 16, 2023 the Village Council voted to approve ordinance 2023-04, which would allow the proposed changes to facilitate building The Wellington Equestrian Golf and Country Club North and South.

After hours of testimony and petitions from both sides, before the November 16 vote to approve or deny the proposed rezoning that would allow for development by removing acreage from the Preserve, Mayor Anne Gerwig discussed the need for updates and renovations to Wellington’s equestrian facilities saying, “It was super frustrating for me thinking [equestrian sports venues aren’t] going to last. If I thought it could, if I thought it would, I wouldn’t be in support of expanding the horse show. But there’s no other way. I don’t have anyone else sitting around proposing to finance this and build it. And a company that has a reputation for doing sports complexes. I don’t know how many times this opportunity falls in our lap. Again, this is so difficult and none of us take this lightly.” She goes on to say that the equestrian element is what separates Wellington and makes it what it is and that she wants to preserve that.

Although the council is proceeding cautiously, making sure the agreements for development are enforceable on both sides, they voted 5-0 in support of the proposal. “I’ve always done what I thought was right,” says Mayor Gerwig. “If I had always taken the safe route [during my tenure], I wouldn’t be proud of the work I’ve done.”

The Wellington South Parcel
14412 Pierson Road | Presented by Martha Jolecoeur

Jolicoeur enjoys all that Wellington has to offer outside of equestrian sport. “I was an avid rider, so of course I look forward to watching the big classes. I also enjoy walking and biking inside Palm Beach Polo. I’ve taken up golf and really enjoy it when I’m not working. Pickleball is also something I enjoy. I’ve had some friends tell me to check out the food trucks on Thursday evenings, so I’ll definitely [have to] try that!” This quaint, yet well-appointed Village truly offers something for everyone.

Wellington is home to many unique neighborhoods, including one of South Florida’s aeronautical communities, Wellington Aero Club. “I find the Aero Club a nice neighborhood with its large lots and paved runway,” says Jolicoeur, “Of course, any of the neighborhoods that allow horses are great, too. Palm Beach Point is just beautiful with its five acre lots and beautiful homes and barns.” Having lived in the neighborhood since 1986, Streit is “partial to the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club. It’s such a convenient location and living right on the golf course with Cypress trees and lush foliage all around, it creates a peaceful oasis in busy South Florida.”

When it comes to real estate in Wellington, Streit reports that “Wellington values are holding nicely and increasing with the limited inventory here. The demand is high, and with many properties getting snapped up quickly, it takes somebody who is connected to the community to really help facilitate buying and selling here.” Michael Stone, President of Equestrian Sport Productions, was quoted by the Business Development Board in 2022 as saying, “The increase of C-suite executives moving to South Florida has fueled a need for luxury lifestyle opportunities. Equestrian sport provides these opportunities and has encouraged many families to move full-time to Palm Beach County, and in particular Wellington. It also creates a great opportunity for local businesses to be part of the economic growth of Palm Beach County.”

Visit Luxury Home Magazine of The Palm Beaches to discover more features of the Palm Beach area.

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