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For sale: Jacobean-style manor in Avila near Tampa. Asking price? $25 million

LUTZ — Listing a home at $25 million is a bold move these days, when the median price for single-family homes in 2008 was $197,100, and when even moderately priced homes are languishing on the market for months.

The Tampa Bay area's most expensive residential listing is also the largest single-family home on the market, with 28,893 air-conditioned square feet, plus approximately 15,500 square feet of open and covered terraces. To even see the home, you have to prequalify.

The estate in the gated subdivision of Avila, north of Tampa, is being offered by Mitzi Gill and Dina Sierra Smith, Realtors at Smith & Associates in Tampa. The home's owners are Mark and Christel Yaffe; he is co-owner of National Gold Exchange in Tampa.

"We feel like the house justifies the price tag," says Gill. That said, it's going to take a very special buyer to make a sale in this economy.

The property's 5.9 acres, next to Avila's golf course, have ample room for a house this size as well as extensive outdoor entertaining areas, parklike lawns and views of the fairway.

Completed in 2004, the ornate Jacobean-style manor home took about seven years to build.

You don't see many Jacobean manors in the Tampa Bay area or elsewhere in Florida, where Mediterranean revivals and other 20th century styles rule. With its steep gables, deep bay windows and colonnades, Jacobean architecture borrows from a European melting pot of English, Italian and Dutch influences.

Architect Peter Shaw's firm, Architects Co-Partnership in Sarasota, designed the Yaffes' home. The Jacobean manors that dot the Cotswolds region of England served as inspiration, says Shaw, who trained at Liverpool School of Architecture and moved to the United States in 1983.

Custom-designed Murano glass chandeliers adorn the foyer, great hall and formal dining room. Other highlights include 14 fireplaces, a wine room, a mahogany library, a Tuscan-style outbuilding and staff quarters.

Though it could easily be the backdrop for a Masterpiece Theater series, this house offers more than a look back to history. "I designed the house for the future," says Shaw.

The reinforced-concrete construction and enormous impact-resistant windows are designed to withstand a Category 4 hurricane, he says.

The residence has a few surprises, such as a marble basketball court. Stonework is everywhere: Romanian marble clads the buildings and carries through to the terraces and interior floors, staircases and hand-carved fireplaces. "I believe the whole quarry may have been bought for this home," says Shaw.

Elizabeth McCann is a freelance writer based in St. Petersburg.

By the numbers

Just what to do you get for $25 million? And how much of it? Architect Peter Shaw takes us through:

10 bedrooms

10 full baths, 3 half baths

Four-car garage with a guest apartment

Two elevators

Two Romanian marble staircases

Two tree-lined gravel driveways

About 40,000 square feet of vein-cut Romanian marble

28,893 square feet of air-conditioned living space

20,500 square feet of hand-scraped wide-plank Brazilian cherry floors

1,600 square feet of Elizabethan-style oak paneling

in the family room

3,100-square-foot great hall with minstrel gallery

400 people — the number the great hall has held for a fundraiser

300 square feet of granite countertops

90 linear feet of mahogany bookcases in the formal library

27-foot ceilings in the foyer and the great hall

14 fireplaces, 5 antique English ones and 9 of hand-carved Romanian marble

One 80-foot swimming pool

One marble basketball court

For sale: Jacobean-style manor in Avila near Tampa. Asking price? $25 million 02/27/09 [Last modified: Friday, February 27, 2009 3:30am]

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