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Clearwater Harbor mansion of Laser Spine Institute co-founder sells for nearly $8 million.

The Belleair estate sold by Dr. James St. Louis, co-founder of Laser Spine Institute (Courtesy of Interluxe
Published Aug. 12

BELLEAIR — It took nine years but the waterfront estate of Laser Spine Institute co-founder James St. Louis has finally sold for $7.9 million.

The new owner is another big name in Tampa Bay business circles — Stu Sjouwerman, founder and CEO of the data cybersecurity awareness firm KnowBe4. He and wife Rebecca closed on the nearly 13,000-square foot house overlooking Clearwater Harbor earlier this month.

READ MORE: Fast-growing Top Workplace KnowBe4 emphasizes both speed and fun

St. Louis paid $10.25 million for the house in 2008, three years after he and two other doctors started Laser Spine Institute with the pledge of relieving neck and back pain through "minimally invasive surgery.'' By the time he left the company a few years ago, it had locations in several states and annual revenues topping $200 million.

But faced with several lawsuits, including one with a possible payout of $264-million, the institute abruptly closed March 1, throwing hundreds of employees out of work and leaving 1,500 patients in the lurch. A consultant is liquidating its assets for the benefit of creditors.

READ MORE: Debt, lawsuits, big spending led to the death of Laser Spine Institute

Built in 2001 by MarineMax yacht baron Bill McGill, the mansion sits on a two-acre bluff rimmed with towering palms. The six-bedroom, six-bath house has a theater, rocky lagoon with underground water slide, backyard koi ponds and a tennis court. There is a separate one-bedroom guest house.

St. Louis first put his mansion on the market in 2010 for $14.4 million. The asking price has bounced up and down since then as various agents tried unsuccessfully to sell it. The most recent listing agent was Phyllis Franklin; Irene Rue was the selling agent.

When St. Louis failed to pay property taxes on the house by the April 1 deadline, a tax certificate was issued. Records show that it was redeemed, or paid off, on July 19.

READ MORE: More than 32,000 individuals and companies around Tampa Bay didn't pay their property taxes last year

The home's buyer, Sjouwerman, founded Clearwater-based KnowBe4 in 2010. It currently has about 660 employees, 24,000 customers and finished first this year in the large-companies category of the Tampa Bay Times Top Workplaces.

READ MORE: Tampa Bay's Top 100 workplaces

Contact Susan Taylor Martin at smartin@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.

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