Imagine enjoying your Kellogg’s Corn Flakes each morning in a house once owned by W.K. Kellogg himself. Or living in a building on the National Register of Historic Places. Or dipping your toes in your private lagoon.
Yes, Tampa Bay homebuyers currently have a choice of some unusual properties. So if you hit it big on Mega Millions or Powerball, why opt for a cookie-cutter McMansion when you could have one of these:
129 Buena Vista Drive S, Dunedin — In 1934, the Dunedin Timesreported that Kellogg and his wife Carrie were about to buy this Jazz-age home overlooking St. Joseph Sound in what was said to be Pinellas County’s largest real estate transaction of the year.
The Kelloggs had spent the "season" at their 800-acre Arabian horse ranch in Pomona, Calif. but were selling it so they could winter in Florida. As "evidence of the general upswing of business conditions" following the Great Depression, the paper said, the Kellogg plant in Battle Creek, Michigan, employed 2,288. It had worked to capacity in April 1934 for the first time in the company’s 27-year history, turning out more than a million boxes a day of Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies and other cereals.
How had the company weathered the Depression so successfully? "Every time the prospect of a slump appeared," a Kellogg representative told the Dunedin Times, "we increased our newspaper advertising and increased our sales."
The cereal magnate and philanthropist died in 1951 but the five-bedroom, six-bath house is still known as the Kellogg Mansion. Built in 1925 at the height of the Roaring 20s, it is a riot of decorative styles ranging from Baroque to Rococo to Art Deco to downright campy. That could be one reason it has been on the market for more than a year, priced at $4.5 million.
"The higher the price point, the smaller that qualified buyer pool," Karl Moeller, the listing agent, noted in an email. "But for the price range, it is getting quite a bit of attention (from) both the type of people that appreciate the historic value as well as those that want to start over on a huge piece of waterfront."
3010 Oakmont Drive, Clearwater — This three-house estate just off Curlew Road is actually a gated community within a gated community called The Reserve.
Despite its proximity to a major road, the property has the feel of a secluded tropical island thanks to a river meandering through the grounds and a lagoon with foot bridges, a rocky grotto and walk-through waterfall.
The 11,318-square-foot Main House has seven bedrooms, eight full bathrooms, a wine room, a movie theater with tiered seating and entertainment room with a pub-style bar. Included in the $2.85 million price are the two-bedroom, two-bath KeyWest House and the three-bedroom, two-bath Sanibel House, which also has a one bedroom studio.
Since buying the estate three years ago for $1.35 million, an Ohio company, Alexander Grace Investments, has used it as a corporate retreat. "From what I’ve heard, it was kind of like Jurassic Park, all overgrown," says Nate Fugitt, the listing agent. "The investor group flew out some employees and they started hacking away and brought it back to life. Since then they’ve been using it as kind of a company playground."
Fugitt said he could see another company buying the property for a similar purpose although he’s also had interest from foreigners and professional athletes. And "I do have an agent who says we’ll have a (prospective) buyer in December that’s a movie star," he said. "It’s really cool; it’s like being at a Bahamas resort."
Among the estate’s previous owners was William Baumgart, who sold it and his Clearwater-based TransContinental Title company in 2006. Baumgart went on to build an even more spectacular spread in Tarpon Springs that includes a 21,000-square-foot mansion with an entertainment wing called The Village, complete with cigar pub, ice-creamery and movie house.
That property — which also has a 12-foot deep pool, 14 waterfalls, and a river — has been on the market for more than three years. The current price: $9.85 million, down from the original $14.3 million.
405 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg — If you’d prefer to be in the thick of things, here’s a two-bedroom , two-bath condo for $610,000 in the heart of booming downtown St. Petersburg. And it’s in one of the city’s most beautiful and historic buildings, the Snell Arcade.
Built in 1928 by Perry C. Snell (he also developed Snell Isle) and on the National Register of Historic Places, the Mediterranean Revival-style building features an open-air arcade with medallions and stonework. The condo, whose own striking embellishments include Brazilian cherry cabinets and Carrara marble countertops, is owned by the family of Margaret Ridge, who died last year.
"I sold it to her in 2014," says Kelly Pugh, the current listing agent. "She was a widow and moved here from Naples after her husband passed away. She said, ‘I don’t need to live in a golf mecca. I just want to be here where I can walk everywhere.’"
Of course, it’s not possible to walk everywhere, which brings us to the sort-of- bad news.
"The only downside to that building is it doesn’t offer parking," Pugh said. "You either have to be on the street or get (space in) a parking garage." As compensation, the sellers will pay $70 a month toward parking for five years and half of the monthly maintenance fee for three years.
The good news: The condo’s new owner won’t have to go far to buy stamps or mail a package. Next door to the Snell Arcade is the nation’s only open-air post office.
Contact Susan Taylor Martin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate