Saturday, February 24, 2018
Business

Fashion designer Michael Kors building home on Longboat Key

LONGBOAT KEY — There are Michael Kors stores in Tampa, Ellenton and Sarasota.

Now west-central Florida is getting a Michael Kors house.

One of the world's best-known fashion designers, Kors is building a 6,306-square-foot home on the Gulf of Mexico at the north end of Longboat Key in Manatee County. Just a mile from the bridge to Anna Maria Island, the two-story contemporary house will feature mahogany "privacy panels," retractable insect screens and a pool measuring 70 feet by 20 feet.

"Yes, that's a large pool," said Darin Cushing, building official for the town of Longboat Key.

The town's planning, zoning and building department is currently reviewing page after page of blueprints for the house that will rise on 2 acres bought by a Kors-controlled company last year for $6 million. The home itself will cost an estimated $2.2 million, according to the recently filed permit.

Even at a total tab of $8.2 million, that's veritable pocket change to Kors, whose net worth Forbes has pegged at more than $1 billion.

From a fashion-conscious kid who made and sold clothes out of his parents' Long Island, N.Y., basement, Kors grew into a top designer whose gowns have appeared on Jennifer Lopez, Alicia Keys and Catherine Zeta-Jones. First lady Michelle Obama wore a black, sleeveless Kors dress for her first-term official portrait.

Kors, who himself wears nothing but black, became a cable TV sensation when he spent several seasons as a judge on Project Runway, the reality program where unknown designers compete for a chance to show their collections at New York Fashion Week. As models strutted down the runway in sometimes-bizarre creations, Kors critiqued with zingers like "if a guy was 7-3, it would be a fabulous fit."

The show boosted his profile and made him one of the most popular designers with female shoppers, who have purchased millions of his totes and handbags bearing the distinctive MK logo. They are sold in dozens of Tampa Bay stores, including Macy's, TJ Maxx and Kors' own stores in International Plaza, the Ellenton Premium Outlets mall and Sarasota's new University Town Center.

The 55-year-old Kors and his husband, Lance LePere, live in Manhattan but apparently intend to make their Longboat Key residence more than just an occasional getaway spot.

Plans for the second floor show a large area for "staff.'' It boasts its own spacious living room, three bedrooms, three bathrooms and a laundry area.

There are also four guest bedrooms, three with decks.

The nearly 700-square-foot master suite will include a gas fireplace, bathroom with separate powder room and deck with outdoor shower. Completing the second-floor living quarters are a media room, large kitchen and open-concept living-dining area.

Stairs and an elevator descend to the ground floor with a 1,271-square-foot screened room, various decks and terraces, and enough garage and parking space for a small fleet of cars. A 55-foot-long planter will separate the porch area from the rectangular pool.

The house was designed by Stelle Lomont Rouhani, a New York architectural firm that specializes in sleekly modern homes with vast expanses of glass to take maximum advantage of beachy views.

Kors' bay area abode will be on a stretch of Gulf of Mexico Drive far enough from condos, hotels and stores to ensure a measure of privacy. The only nearby structures are enormous private houses like Ohana, a vintage gulf-front estate that recently got a $6.3 million addition.

Owned by the CEO of a Canadian real estate company, Ohana is thought to be Longboat Key's most expensive residence, with a current appraised value of nearly $11 million.

Longboat, a skinny island that is partly in Sarasota County, partly in Manatee, is home to other big-money owners, though only a few, like U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan and tennis star Maria Sharapova, are known to the public.

Cushing, the building official, acknowledges gender differences when it comes to the level of excitement about a famous fashion designer moving onto the island.

"My daughters were, 'Like really, Michael Kors?!' And I'm like, 'Who's that?' "

Contact Susan Taylor Martin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.

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