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Laser Spine Institute founder James St. Louis' Belleair estate heads to auction

The Belleair estate of Dr. James St. Louis, a founder of Laser Spine Institute (Courtesy of Interluxe)
Published Apr. 12

BELLEAIR — The waterfront estate of Dr. James St. Louis, a founder of the now-defunct Laser Spine Institute, is headed to auction April 30th.

The online auctioneer Interluxe has set a $4.5 million starting bid for the French country-style home, which has been on the market for almost nine years. The asking price has been as much as $14.4 million.

As his youngest child heads to college, "the doctor is ready to sell,'' Interluxe said in a release. "Realizing that one-of-a-kind properties need a unique solution to sell, the decision was made to auction the property.''

St. Louis bought the house on the Intracoastal Waterway 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 currently liquidating its assets for the benefit of creditors.

The St. Louis mansion, built in 2001 by Marine Max yacht baron Bill McGill, 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 paid $10.25 million for the house, then the record price for a Tampa Bay home. Just two years after buying it, he put it back on the market in 2010 for $14.4 million. The price has since yo-yoed, dipping to as low as $9.4 million in 2014 and as high as $15.9 million in 2016 as five different agents tried unsuccessfully to find a buyer. It currently is priced at $10.849 million.

Prospective buyers and their representatives can preview the 13,000-square foot property on Friday, April 26 through Sunday, April 28. During that time, Dimmitt Automotive will display cars from its luxury line including Bentley, Rolls-Royce, McClaren and Aston Martin (Auction terms and conditions are at www.interluxe.com)

The house is the second high-profile property to be auctioned this year. The lakefront Odessa estate of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Vinny Testaverde went on the block Tuesday, but the listing agent declined to say if any bids have been accepted. The house, most recently listed for $2.5 million, has since been withdrawn from the market.

St. Louis' home is two doors down from the former home of yet another famous Tampa Bay resident, pro wrestler Terry "Hulk Hogan'' Bollea. In what must have made for some awkward neighborhood get-togethers, Bollea sued Laser Spine Institute in 2013, alleging it performed a series of ineffective procedures that cost him $50 million in medical costs and lost opportunities. The case was later settled confidentially.

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

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