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Neighborhood Profile: Venetian Isles in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG

Elizabeth and John Funk live on one of the narrow fingers of land in Venetian Isles, which juts east into Tampa Bay the farthest of any Pinellas development.

Their street has never been flooded; nor has their house. But they have been flooded in.

Venetian Isles extends into the bay on relatively high ground northeast of Snell Isle and directly east of Shore Acres. It's an upscale waterfront community of 533 homesites, most of which are on the man-made fingers separated by deep-water canals suitable for power and sailboats of all sizes.

It's no wonder that when the Funks, Tampa Bay natives (she from the Old Northeast; he from Pinellas Point), went looking for waterfront property 13 years ago, they fell in love with it.

Despite slight inconveniences. For instance, eight years ago during a storm, they had to drive as far as they could down the street and then kayak the rest of the way to the Shore Acres Recreation Center, where "mainland" friends would bring supplies to them. Then they would kayak back to their car and drive back to their house. They were socked in for three days that time.

"But we never lost power. We had electricity," John said. "It was amazing." (Electric lines are underground.)

Most other storms strand them only for hours until the water recedes, they said.

Venetian Isles is reached by bridges, via Overlook Drive, Grand Canal Boulevard and Mermaid Point. The neighborhood has young and old residents and is family-friendly, the Funks said.

When the Funks bought in 2001, housing prices were going up, but they still got in before the market exploded.

Elizabeth was in the hospital delivering twins Johnny and Taylor, who are 12 now, when her husband brought her the papers to sign to buy the house. They also have a 21-year-old daughter, Brittany.

"We bought the junkiest house in the neighborhood," John said.

They said they looked at other homes in their price range that didn't need as much work but really liked the floor plan of the one they ended up buying and spent four months getting it in shape to live in, taking out a kitchen wall and putting in new flooring.

Later, they would enlarge the great room and put in a new seawall, boat lift, tile roof and a pool custom-made to fit in the wide but shallow back yard. The view from the house is stunning as you look out on the canal over the pool.

They have no regrets about buying the home, in which they have invested about $460,000, between the sale price and the modifications. That's still well under its appraised value, even in today's market. The price of a single-family home in Venetian Isles ranges from about $500,000 to well over $3 million.

"We got a bargain. We would have paid more," John said.

Patti Ewald can be reached at pewald@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8746.

John and Elizabeth Funk

Their home: 2,500 square feet; 5 bedrooms, 2 baths

When they bought: 2001

Current value (from

zillow.com): $592,580

Unusual features: The custom pool shaped like a crooked kidney was designed and built by the now-defunct Florida Lifestyle Pools. When they bought the house, they never thought there was room for a pool. But it worked. They had to build up the outside wall so that the pool is actually higher than the yard on the side closest to the canal. There is also a pergola off the back of the house that John Funk built with his brother, who lives in Miami. The most novel feature, the arcs on the ends of the boards, were made by using the bottom of a frying pan as a pattern.

Why they love it:

It's friendly. Neighbors wave as you pass by. There's not a lot of theft and crime because there are always people around. But the reason they love it the most, they said, is because their children love it.

Neighborhood Profile: Venetian Isles in St. Petersburg 03/16/13 [Last modified: Thursday, March 14, 2013 5:25pm]
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