By Susan Taylor Martin

If there’s one word to describe the buyers of Tampa Bay’s 25 priciest homes in 2017 it’s this: eclectic.

As in previous years, the group included doctors, lawyers and professional sports figures — three of the homes were purchased by players for the Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Lightning while a fourth went to a company connected to a top executive for the New York Yankees.

Among other buyers, though, were a motivational speaker, a pawn shop mogul, a car dealer and a woman who once ran a Las Vegas cat house. Literally.

The year 2017 saw Tampa Bay’s highest-priced residential transaction ever: the $11.18 million sale of Century Oaks estate in Clearwater. But only four homes sold for more than $6 million compared to eight in 2016.

Don’t read too much into that, one top-selling Realtor says. The same inventory shortages that bedeviled buyers in much lower price ranges frustrated those at the top, too.

“I have some buyers who have been looking for a long time and who would spend over $6 million but there are not that many homes fitting their needs,” says Alona Dishy, an agent on two of the Top 25 homes. “I had one client who said, ‘We can almost buy anything but we can’t find anything we want.’”

Dishy, who has been a Realtor in Tampa Bay for two decades, has noticed a change in recent years among the buyers of high-end properties. They tend to be younger than in the past though even those nearing or at retirement age are very active. And while many could afford to buy in Sarasota or Naples, they prefer Tampa Bay.

“What they love about this area is that it doesn’t feel like a retirement community,” Dishy says. “It’s vibrant, with so much going on with the restaurants, the arts, the theaters, the galleries and the museums. I’ve also had lot of people say they feel so healthy when they come here because of all the walking and biking trails.”

Once again, buyers of Tampa Bay’s priciest homes wanted to be on the water — a third of the Top 25 sales were of homes with addresses on Gulf Boulevard in Pinellas County. Rivaling Tampa’s Davis Island for the most sales (four) was the exclusive Pinellas community of Belleair Shore.

Although it has only about 40 houses and no commercial activity, Belleair Shore “is its own city, they have their own mayor and their own government and it’s a private beach,” says agent Martha Thorn, who was involved with two of the four sales. “But I think the biggest aspect of it is that the lots are bigger than most gulf- front lots and (the city) has really, really become popular.”

Other areas with at least two sales in 2017 were Clearwater Beach, Redington Beach, St. Petersburg’s Snell Isle and Tampa’s Culbreath Isles.

A few other noteworthy nuggets about the year’s Top 25 priciest homes:

• In a move that helps protect the buyer’s identity and other personal information, six of the homes were bought by limited liability companies. One LLC bought two homes.

• Of the 25 buyers, 17 paid cash compared, two fewer than in 2016.

• Just two of the 25 homes were condos, and both were in Parkshore Plaza on Beach Drive in downtown St. Petersburg.



“I have some buyers who have been looking for a long time and who would spend over $6 million but there are not that many homes fitting their needs,” says Alona Dishy, an agent on two of the homes in the top 25. “I had one client who said, ‘We can almost buy anything but we can’t find anything we want.’”Dishy, who has been a Realtor in Tampa Bay for two decades, has noticed a change in recent years among the buyers of high-end properties. They tend to be younger than in the past while even those nearing or at retirement age are very active. And while many could afford to buy in Sarasota or Naples, they prefer Tampa Bay.

“What they love about this area is that it doesn’t feel like a retirement community,” Dishy says. “It’s vibrant, with so much going on with the restaurants, the arts, the theaters, the galleries and the museums. I’ve also had lot of people say they feel so healthy when they come here because of all the walking and biking trails.”

Once again, buyers of Tampa Bay’s priciest home wanted to be on the water — a third of the top 25 sales were of homes with addresses on Gulf Boulevard in Pinellas County. Rivaling Tampa’s Davis Island for the most sales (four) was the exclusive Pinellas community of Belleair Shore.

Although it has only about 40 houses and no commercial activity, Belleair Shore “is its own city, they have their own mayor and their own government and it’s a private beach,” says agent Martha Thorn, who was involved with two of the four sales. “But I think the biggest aspect of it is that the lots are bigger than most gulf- front lots and (the city) has really, really become popular.”

Other areas with at least two sales in 2017 were Clearwater Beach, Redington Beach, St. Petersburg’s Snell Isle and Tampa’s Culbreath Isles.

A few more noteworthy nuggets about the year’s Top 25 priciest homes:

• In a move that helps protect the buyer’s identity and other personal information, six of the homes were bought by limited liability companies. One LLC bought two homes.

• Of the 25 buyers, 17 paid cash compared, two fewer than in 2016.

• Just two of the 25 homes were condos, and both were at Parkshore Plaza on Beach Drive in downtown St. Petersburg

Here are the Top 25 and who bought them:

$11.18 million, Clearwater

The basics: 23,799 square feet, 14 bedrooms, 12 full baths

The top price ever paid for a Tampa Bay residence, the sale of the waterfront Century Oaks estate had some curious aspects. Princess Yenega Properties LLC ought the property while Mystery Key LLC took out a $14 million mortgage. The managing members of both companies are Blaise Carroz, whom Bloomberg News once described as a “French-born, Dubai-based real estate developer,” and Marata Tapsoba Carroz. The couple, who had been renting the house from the owner and seller, powerboat racing champ Hugh Fuller, put it back on the market just a few months later for $19.75 million.

This home in Tampa's Culbreath Isles sold in October for $6.480 million, the second highest amount paid for a residential property in the Tampa Bay in 2017. [Courtesy of Judson Brady Photography]
This home in Tampa's Culbreath Isles sold in October for $6.480 million, the second highest amount paid for a residential property in the Tampa Bay in 2017. [Courtesy of Judson Brady Photography]

$6.480 million, Culbreath Isles, Tampa

The basics: 6,451 square feet, five bedrooms, six full baths

Located in a gated community in South Tampa, this bayfront home built in 1988 sold to KLM Andros Holdings LLC. According to Florida corporate records, KLM’s sole “authorized person” is Anthony Bruno, vice president of the New York Yankees and CFO of Yankee Global Enterprises.

This bayfront home in South Tampa sold for $6.4 million. [Courtesy of Coldwell Banker]
This bayfront home in South Tampa sold for $6.4 million. [Courtesy of Coldwell Banker]

$6.4 million, Culbreath Isles, Tampa

The basics: 6,683 square feet, five bedrooms, four full baths

Featuring a rotunda with two-sided staircase, this classically styled home was bought by auto dealer John Irving Williams Jr.

This Davis Islands home sold in January for $6.275 million. [Courtesy of Smith & Associates]
This Davis Islands home sold in January for $6.275 million. [Courtesy of Smith & Associates]

$6.275 million, Davis Islands, Tampa

The basics: 8,901 square feet, six bedrooms, six full baths

This home was sold in an off-market transaction to Nicholas J. Brown and Tracy Ann Brown. He was a founding partner, managing director and head of Financial Product Brokerage, North and South America, at GFI Group in New York.

The Birds of Paradise Resort, former St. Pete Beach winter estate of beer and baseball magnage August Busch Jr., sold after three years on the market. [Courtesy of Cary John]
The Birds of Paradise Resort, former St. Pete Beach winter estate of beer and baseball magnage August Busch Jr., sold after three years on the market. [Courtesy of Cary John]

$5.395 million, St. Pete Beach

The basics: 6,683 square feet, nine bedrooms, nine full baths

Now called the Birds of Paradise Boutique Resort, the compound of three fully furnished waterfront homes once was the winter home of beer and baseball titan August A. Busch Jr. It was bought by a trust with Tampa attorney Joshua Keleske as trustee.

This home on Tampa's Davis Islands home sold in September for $5.2 million. [Courtesy of Judson Bray Photography]
This home on Tampa's Davis Islands home sold in September for $5.2 million. [Courtesy of Judson Bray Photography]

5.2 million, Davis Islands, Tampa

The basics: 7,367 square feet, six bedrooms, six full baths

This home with a see-through fireplace in floor-to-ceiling wall of coral stone sold to a Colorado revocable trust with Angela Ripa LaFace and Joseph Christian LaFace as trustees. He is president of Ripa & Associates, a Tampa construction firm; she is a physician.

This home in Belleair Shore sold in March 2017 for $4,809,250. [Courtesy of Coastal Properties Group]
This home in Belleair Shore sold in March 2017 for $4,809,250. [Courtesy of Coastal Properties Group]

$4,809,250, Belleair Shore

The basics: 6,664 square feet, five bedrooms, six full baths

This is one of two Top 25 properties purchased in 2017 by Seneca the Younger LLC; other public records show the owners as Michael J. Lally and Robin Lally. He is connected to the Ohio-based Modal Shop, a company specializing in sound and vibration testing solutions. She is a real estate agent.

This home in Belleair Shore sold in February, 2017 for $4.55 million. [Courtesy of Cary John Photography]
This home in Belleair Shore sold in February, 2017 for $4.55 million. [Courtesy of Cary John Photography]

$4.55 million, Belleair Shore

The basics: 4,787 square feet, four bedrooms, four full baths

Ariyana Saint Jennings, who bought this gulf-front home, is big on animals. While living in Las Vegas, she converted her home into the Cat’s Cradle, a “hotel’’ for felines. After moving to Manatee County in 2006, she ran a sanctuary for abandoned pets including snakes, kangaroos, donkeys, ponies and geese.

This home in Belleair Shore sold in March for $4.4 million. [Courtesy of Alona Dishy]
This home in Belleair Shore sold in March for $4.4 million. [Courtesy of Alona Dishy]

$4.4 million, Belleair Shore

The basics: 4,988 square feet, four bedrooms, five full baths

This three-level beachfront home built on 34 pilings sold to the MCC Revocable Trust, with Chris K. Callas and Maria T. Callas as trustees. He has been the CFO and she the CEO of Apollo Industries, now known as PLAZE Georgia, a specialty chemical contract packager of household products including insecticides, chewing gum removers and glass, plastic and upholstery cleaners.

This home in St. Petersburg's Snell Isle area sold for $4.075 million in June, making it the most expensive sale of a single family home that month. [Courtesy of Chris Della Penna]
This home in St. Petersburg's Snell Isle area sold for $4.075 million in June, making it the most expensive sale of a single family home that month. [Courtesy of Chris Della Penna]

$4.075 million, Snell Isle, St. Petersburg

The basics: 4,154 square feet, four bedrooms, four full baths

This West Indies style home with views of downtown St. Petersburg was purchased by the Richard W. Strefling Revocable Trust. Strefling served as president of Dynamax, a maker of motor homes that was bought in 2011 by Forest River, a subsidiary of Warren E. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.

This home on Davis Islands sold in January 2017 for $3.85 million. [Courtesy of The Toni Everett Company]
This home on Davis Islands sold in January 2017 for $3.85 million. [Courtesy of The Toni Everett Company]

$3.85 million, Davis Islands, Tampa

The basics: 4,851 square feet, five bedrooms, four full baths

Steve Stamkos, captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning, bought this home built in 1970 and designed by architect Gene Leedy, one of the founders of the internationally known modernist Sarasota School of Architecture.

This home on Gulf Boulevard in Indian Rocks Beach sold in April for $3.84 million. [Courtesy of Coastal Properties Group]
This home on Gulf Boulevard in Indian Rocks Beach sold in April for $3.84 million. [Courtesy of Coastal Properties Group]

$3.84 million, Indian Rocks Beach

The basics: 4,574 square feet, four bedrooms, four full baths

This two-year-old home with seven-car garage was purchased by a revocable trust with Marie L. Cox as trustee.

This gulf-front home in Redington Beach sold in May for $3.75 million, making it Pinellas County's priciest sale of the month. [Courtesy of Shannon Corr]
This gulf-front home in Redington Beach sold in May for $3.75 million, making it Pinellas County's priciest sale of the month. [Courtesy of Shannon Corr]

$3.75 million, Redington Beach

The basics: 4,410 square feet, four bedrooms, four full baths

Dr. David Barron, a dermatologist in Cincinnati, is the new owner of this two-year-old home overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

This home in Tampa's Carol Shores sold in October 2017 for $3.725 million. [Courtesy of Smith & Associates]
This home in Tampa's Carol Shores sold in October 2017 for $3.725 million. [Courtesy of Smith & Associates]

$3.725 million, Carol Shores, Tampa

The basics: 6,083 square feet, five bedrooms, five full bathrooms

Newly built in the British West Indies style, this home was purchased by Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Keiunta Denard Span and his wife, Anne Kathryn Schleper, who plays for the Buffalo Beauts of the National Women’s Hockey League.

This penthouse in Parkshore Plaza on Beach Drive in downtown St. Petersburg sold for almost $3.725 million. [Courtesy of Amy Lamb/Native House Photography]
This penthouse in Parkshore Plaza on Beach Drive in downtown St. Petersburg sold for almost $3.725 million. [Courtesy of Amy Lamb/Native House Photography]

$3,724,500 million, Beach Drive, St. Petersburg

The basics: 4,962 square feet, three bedrooms, four full baths

This Parkshore Plaza penthouse with three covered balconies and a theater was purchased by Nicholas J. Balling, who has been director of basic research and development at Romark Laboratories. Romark is a Tampa-based pharmaceutical company specializing in the development of new treatments for cancers and infectious diseases.

This home in Tampa's Sunset Park sold in June for $3.65 million. [Courtesy of Shelton Hughes Realtors]
This home in Tampa's Sunset Park sold in June for $3.65 million. [Courtesy of Shelton Hughes Realtors]

$3.655 million, Sunset Park Isles, Tampa

The basics: 6,136 square feet, five bedrooms, six full baths

This home, with Tampa attorney David L. Koche as trustee has open bay views with the St. Petersburg skyline in the distance.

This gulf-front home on Clearwater Beach owned by Bob Basham, co-founder of Outback Steakhouse and PDQ restaurants, sold for $3.6 million in August. [Courtesy of Kenny Hayslett]
This gulf-front home on Clearwater Beach owned by Bob Basham, co-founder of Outback Steakhouse and PDQ restaurants, sold for $3.6 million in August. [Courtesy of Kenny Hayslett]

$3.6 million, Clearwater Beach

The basics: 4,962 square feet, five bedrooms, five full baths

Aaraon Tetrrault, owner of a chain of New England pawnshops, was the buyer of this gulf-front estate. The seller was Bob Basham, co-founder of Outback Steakhouse and PDQ restaurants.

Two penthouses sold at Parkshore Plaza in St. Petersburg made the top 25 list, including one sold for $3.495 million. [Courtesy of Amy Lamb/Native House Photography]
Two penthouses sold at Parkshore Plaza in St. Petersburg made the top 25 list, including one sold for $3.495 million. [Courtesy of Amy Lamb/Native House Photography]

$3.495 million, Beach Drive, St. Petersburg

The basics: 4,962 square feet, three bedrooms, four baths

One of two Parkshore Plaza penthouses sold last year, this one went to Karen and Danny Riffe. She is president and CEO of Meridian Asset Services, a St. Petersburg-based firm that advises companies on loan and real estate acquisitions. In 2013, the Riffes sold a previous home to former Tampa Bay Rays star Evan Longoria.

This gulf-front home in Redington Beach sold in October 2017 for $3.425 million. [Courtesy of Century 21]
This gulf-front home in Redington Beach sold in October 2017 for $3.425 million. [Courtesy of Century 21]

$3.425 million, Redington Beach

The basics: 5,378 square feet, four bedrooms, five full baths

The buyer of another Top 25 home sold this gulf-front estate to N P Redington LLC. Public utility records show that the water bills are going to Patricia Pichardo, whose husband is a physician in Central Florida.

This gulf-front home on Clearwater Beach sold for $3.4 million in March. [Courtesy of Shannon Herod/Tour Factory]
This gulf-front home on Clearwater Beach sold for $3.4 million in March. [Courtesy of Shannon Herod/Tour Factory]

$3.4 million, Clearwater Beach

The basics: 4,921 square feet, four bedrooms, five full baths

This gulf-front home is owned by Chris P. Rose and Jacqueline Wojas, who has been president of Mail Clinic Inc, a Michigan-based printing and direct mail company.

This home in St. Petersburg's Snell Isle sold in June 2017 for $3.4 million. [Courtesy of Strickland Property Group]
This home in St. Petersburg's Snell Isle sold in June 2017 for $3.4 million. [Courtesy of Strickland Property Group]

$3.4 million, Snell Isle, St. Petersburg

The basics: 5,385 square feet, five bedrooms, six full baths

This home on protected sailboat water with room for a 65-foot yacht was purchased by the living trusts of William Daniel Dampier and Carol Dampier of Greenwood Village, Colo. He was president and CEO of Access Data Consulting, which provided outsourcing services to Fortune 500 clients before being acquired by General Employment Enterprises in 2015.

This home on Tampa's Davis Islands sold in December 2017 for $3.325 million. [Courtesy of James Walters]
This home on Tampa's Davis Islands sold in December 2017 for $3.325 million. [Courtesy of James Walters]

$3.325 million, Davis Islands, Tampa

The basics: 6,507 square feet, six bedrooms, six full baths

This Mediterranean style house on a deep-water canal is now home to Ondrej Palát , an alternate captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

This estate on Treasure Island sold in October 2017 for $3.3 million. [Courtesy of Lisa Marie Jerrard]
This estate on Treasure Island sold in October 2017 for $3.3 million. [Courtesy of Lisa Marie Jerrard]

$3.3 million, Treasure Island

The basics: 4,790 square feet, five bedrooms, five full baths

North Carolina motivational speaker Andy Albright and his wife, Jane, bought this home on two lots with 100 feet of gulf-front footage. He is the author of The 8 Steps to Success and Millionaire Maker Manuel.’The house was built in 2000 by the family of marine construction magnate Richard Misener using wood salvaged from projects around the world.

This home in Belleair Shore sold for $3.299 million in August 2017. [Courtesy of Cary John Photography]
This home in Belleair Shore sold for $3.299 million in August 2017. [Courtesy of Cary John Photography]

$3.299 million, Belleair Shore

The basics: 3,584 square feet, four bedrooms, four full baths

This is the other Top 25 property bought last year by Seneca The Younger LLC.

This home on Clearwater Harbor sold in May for $3.298 million. [Courtesy of The Thorn Collection]
This home on Clearwater Harbor sold in May for $3.298 million. [Courtesy of The Thorn Collection]

$3.298 million, Clearwater

The basics: 7,920 square feet, seven bedrooms, seven full baths

This contemporary home on Clearwater Harbor was bought by a limited liability company of which entrepreneur Ben Mallah is manager. Mallah founded Equity Management Partners, whose portfolio includes apartments, a senior living facility and hotels under such brands as Marriott and Ramada.

Contact Susan Taylor Martin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.