Saturday, January 20, 2018
Business

Sprawling Busch beachfront estate, fabled compound for rich and famous, on sale for $6.9 million

ST. PETE BEACH

The fabled winter estate of Anheuser-Busch's silk-stocking pioneer, for decades a beachfront playground for the likes of Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe, splashed onto the market Tuesday with a $6.9 million price tag after years of legal strife.

The opulent compound of late beer and baseball baron August A. Busch Jr. was one of Pass-a-Grille's most whispered-about estates, with three separate homes built in the early '50s on a coastal tract the size of a city block.

The Busch estate was the brewery mogul's home base when he wanted to visit downtown St. Petersburg for spring training games of the St. Louis Cardinals, his baseball team, or his sprawling Tampa zoo and theme park, Busch Gardens.

But with its expansive boat house and marina for luxury yachts, the beach complex also became a party hub for a bevy of the rich and famous. The estate, an owners' history shows, hosted presidents (Lyndon Johnson, Bill Clinton), musicians (Frank Sinatra, Mariah Carey), sports stars (Babe Ruth, Arnold Palmer) and TV legends (Ed McMahon, Walter Cronkite).

Tales of the home's excesses still play out across yellowed newspaper clippings. In 1961, a Busch representative sought the city's approval to extend the dock farther into Little McPherson Bayou for an 80-foot yacht. In 1982, Busch's friends, planning his 83rd birthday party, arranged for a surprise visitor to the beach house: a tiger from Circus World.

After Busch's death in 1989, the compound was sold to Tampa beer distributor Arthur Pepin, who resold it to developer John DaSilva in 1997 for $1.1 million. DaSilva, who had worked at the estate as a boy, had grand plans to primp and promote it as a getaway for business clientele, as he argued Busch had done decades before.

But the corporate compound's use within an enclave of beach bungalows rankled neighbors, and city officials rebuffed the plans, bringing in historians who classified the estate's legacy as more of a personal hideaway.

In 2000, DaSilva sued St. Pete Beach, which four bitter years later opted to settle, paying DaSilva $100,000 and approving his plans. The compound found new life as a corporate and family retreat, the Birds of Paradise Boutique Resort, which on vacation-rental sites was listed as "the Grandest Private Waterfront Estate in Florida," and rented for $2,000 a night.

Over the past 15 years, however, the sun-drenched compound has spent much of its time in court. A bank that loaned more than $10 million to DaSilva, whom records also list with the last name DeSilva, filed to foreclose in 2010, records show. In December, the outstanding debt was taken over by Tom Frederick, a founder of Zeno Office Solutions, the Tampa firm that sold last year to Xerox for an undisclosed amount.

The nine-bedroom compound, with industrial coolers and commercial washers and dryers, first went on the market in 2008 at $19.9 million. The compound is now listed by RE/MAX Realtec Group agent Mark Ganier at $6.9 million.

"A new page of history is being turned on this nationally renowned estate," a vacation-rental listing says. "The start of a day here is truly the beginning of an adventure."

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 893-8252 or [email protected]

     
 
Comments
Tampa Bay jobs chief Ed Peachey making top dollar

Tampa Bay jobs chief Ed Peachey making top dollar

For years, Edward Peachey has bragged about the number of jobless people he has helped find work.As president and CEO of CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay, he’s in charge of the two main government agencies that provide training to the...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Inspector General launches investigation into Tampa Bay’s local career centers

Inspector General launches investigation into Tampa Bay’s local career centers

The state has opened an investigation into CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay, days after the Tampa Bay Times asked about whether the two regional job centers were inflating the number of people they had helped get hired. The agencies, ...
Published: 01/19/18
Tech firm TranferWise moves to Ybor City, illustrating a new chapter in Tampa’s business history

Tech firm TranferWise moves to Ybor City, illustrating a new chapter in Tampa’s business history

TAMPA — You could sketch an economic history of the city of Tampa — and maybe get a glimpse of its future — just by looking at the old J. Seidenberg & Co./Havana-American Cigar Factory.It opened in 1894, making it Ybor City’s second-oldest brick ciga...
Published: 01/19/18

Want to buy into an exchanged-traded bitcoin fund? You might have a long wait

NEW YORK — It may be a while, if ever, before investors can buy an exchange-traded fund made up of bitcoin and other digital currencies. Federal regulators have a long list of questions they want answered before they’ll approve a digital currency fun...
Published: 01/19/18
Child psychologist weighs in on mom who charges 5-year-old ‘rent’

Child psychologist weighs in on mom who charges 5-year-old ‘rent’

A Georgia mother has gone viral for charging her 5-year-old "rent." Yup — the kid pays up for food, water, cable and electric, too.Essense Evans described in a Facebook post how she handles her daughter’s allowance. The post, written on Saturday, was...
Published: 01/19/18

Addicted to your smartphone? Now there’s an app for that

Did you text? Sorry, I can’t see messages right now. Arianna Huffington locked my phone.The media tycoon turned wellness entrepreneur wants to keep you out of your phone, too, with a new app called Thrive. Its goal is to make it cool for a generation...
Published: 01/19/18
Proposed monument near St. Pete pier would honor Tony Jannus history-making flight

Proposed monument near St. Pete pier would honor Tony Jannus history-making flight

ST. PETERSBURG — Tony Jannus’s history-making flight in an early seaplane — simultaneously as ungainly and graceful as a pelican on the wing — is what Mayor Rick Kriseman calls an "under-told and under-appreciated" story, but a team of local history ...
Published: 01/19/18
Learn how bus rapid transit (and rail) could work in Tampa Bay

Learn how bus rapid transit (and rail) could work in Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG — The newest hope for transportation in the Tampa Bay area is a bus rapid transit system projected to cover the 41-miles separating St. Petersburg from Wesley Chapel and attract 4,500 new riders at a fraction of the cost of light rail....
Published: 01/19/18
Five things Tampa Bay needs to know about bus rapid transit

Five things Tampa Bay needs to know about bus rapid transit

ST. PETERSBURG — Transportation planners on Friday unveiled a new transit vision for Tampa Bay leaders on Friday morning: Bus rapid transit.Also known as BRT, it has arisen as the leading option in an ongoing study to find the best regional transit p...
Published: 01/19/18
Amazon boosts monthly Prime membership fees by 20 percent

Amazon boosts monthly Prime membership fees by 20 percent

NEW YORK — Amazon is raising the price of its Prime membership monthly plan by nearly 20 percent. The fee of $99 for an annual membership will not change, the company said Friday. The online retailer had added the monthly payment option about two yea...
Published: 01/19/18