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St. Pete 'Glasshouse' three-story penthouse is all about the view

ST. PETERSBURG — For the new owner of this glass house, there's no need to worry about people throwing stones: It's 34 stories up.

A stunning trilevel penthouse atop the downtown Signature Place, the Glasshouse condo that has prompted so many upward gazes has just hit the market for $3.2 million. That will buy you black-veined marble floors, custom finishes and expansive views through the floor-to-ceiling windows that give the 4,177-square-foot condo its name.

The owners, interior designer Rob Bowen and Smith & Associates CEO Bob Glaser, say they spent $1.5 million on a "gut" renovation that transformed several small rooms into a sleek, spacious aerie that occupies the 34th through 36th floors.

"We wanted to go for a very classic, very timeless yet somewhat edgy and unique home," Bowen said. "Me being a designer and Bob being in real estate, everything we do we try to do properly so it could last a hundred years."

As big and unusual as Glasshouse may be, it's not the most expensive condo currently for sale in the Tampa Bay area.

A Sandpearl penthouse in Clearwater Beach is listed at nearly $7 million. Along St. Petersburg's Beach Drive, perhaps the area's hottest condo market, a Parkshore Plaza penthouse owned by the children of ValPak founder Terry Loebel is going for $3.495 million. And a four-bedroom unit in the nearby Florencia is listed at $3.45 million.

With Glasshouse also priced above $3 million, it's the first time anyone can remember that three such expensive units were on the downtown market at the same time.

That could be good news for the sellers. "There's very limited inventory in large-square-footage properties," Glaser said. "In Tampa, nothing is available in condos right now.''

He and Bowen paid $1 million two years ago for their condo on First Street S in Signature Place, the bay area's tallest residential building. Over the next 18 months, Bowen's team went to work, stripping the unit down to bare concrete and eliminating all but one wall on the first floor to maximize the space and, with it, the views of the city and the bay.

"Signature is one of the only buildings with floor-to-ceiling windows, which is what originally what attracted us,'' Bowen said. "For me, there's that love of being the designer, of bringing the outdoors into the interior."

To keep the space light and airy, the kitchen wall that houses appliances is clad in stainless steel. In lieu of a traditional dining table, there's a 10-foot-long slab of Starphire glass.

Among other unique features: a powder room with crocodile-skin-patterned leather walls, a custom-made glass male figure over the master bathtub, and a shower against a glass wall for what the owners call "a somewhat voyeuristic bathing experience.''

The furniture, also custom, can be purchased separately.

Glasshouse is not only good-looking but smart. It knows exactly where the sun is during the day and automatically lowers Mylar-lined shades to block the rays. The result: electric bills that average just $300 in the summer. (Then again, the monthly condo fees are more than $2,500.)

The goal of creating what Glaser calls "an iconic place" paid off this year with an award from the Southeast Building Conference. The condo also has been featured on several websites devoted to architecture and design.

Since Glasshouse went on the market, there have been several showings, all to locals, with no offers yet. Bowen and Glaser are selling because they plan to move to Bliss, a new luxury condo tower that will rise right behind Smith & Associates' Beach Drive office.

What will they miss most about their current abode?

Glaser says: "I'll miss the spectacular sunrises and sunsets. You lie in bed and see the sun rise on one side and after a hard day you watch it set on the other side."

And Bowen: "I'll miss everything about it. It's a fantastic home, and I'm excited to see what the next house will look like."

Contact Susan Taylor Martin at susan@tampabay.com. Follow @susanskate.

St. Pete 'Glasshouse' three-story penthouse is all about the view 08/21/14 [Last modified: Thursday, August 21, 2014 9:03pm]
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