GIBSONTON — When Nasr "Vic" Abuoleim first saw the skinny peninsula jutting off U.S. 41, there was nothing on it but a small house. People called the area "the Kitchen'' because that's where they could fish for their dinner.
More than a decade later, that same strip of land holds the most expensive house now on the market in the Tampa Bay area.
Listed this week for $18-million, "the property really is one of a kind,'' said Abuoleim, a developer. "The first thing that came to my mind is that I wanted to build the best house I can.''
The bayfront house, which has a private beach and unobstructed views of downtown St. Petersburg and downtown Tampa, sits on 107 concrete pilings sunk into the bedrock and connected by 36-inch concrete caps. The house itself is built of concrete block with hurricane-proof doors and windows.
Inside, the floors are marble, the ceilings hand-painted with gold-leaf details. Outside are an infinity pool with spa, a basketball court and a tennis court.
Abuoleim, of Jordanian heritage, calls it Victory Mansion — his first name, Nasr, means "victory'' in Arabic.
The six-bedroom, six-bath house is on a 13-acre parcel that includes about seven acres of uplands and the canals flanking it. "There's nothing that can be built around it, it's all private, more like a resort-type property,'' Abuoleim said.
Included in the $18 million price are another 185 or so acres of small private islands and bay bottom.
"You would probably have to go through permitting and zoning'' to do anything with those, he said. "It depends on what the (Army) Corps of Engineers and Hillsborough County says."
Gibsonton, in southern Hillsborough County, is not usually associated with luxury housing. For decades it was best known as the winter home of Lobster Boy, Percilla the Monkey Girl and others connected with the circus and carnival worlds.
In recent years, though, the soaring demand for waterfront property has sent buyers looking south of the Pinellas beaches and Tampa bayfront.
"Gibsonton used to be carny but it is definitely changing a lot,'' Abuoleim said. "There are a lot of really nice, multi-million dollars homes on the Alafia (River) that you cannot see from 41 and you have Apollo Beach and Mira Bay about a mile away.''
Abuoleim, who owns gas stations and other commercial properties in the Tampa Bay area, has been living in Victory Mansion with his wife and four children. So why is he selling?
"It's my nature,'' he said. "I always like to build and design things so I'm in the process of building the next best house in the Tampa area.''
Contact Susan Taylor Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.