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.