CLEARWATER — Arnold Bellini and his wife, Lauren, really love the beach at Clearwater.
In back-to-back purchases this summer, they paid a total of $20.25 million for two adjacent parcels with houses that front the Gulf of Mexico. Separately, the transactions would rank as the third and fifth priciest residential sales ever in the Tampa Bay area; together, they would be the priciest.
Bellini co-founded the Tampa-based software firm ConnectWise, which was sold to a California private equity firm in February in a deal worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
In August, the Bellinis bought a 5,021-square-foot house on Mandalay Point plus four acres of submerged land for $11 million. That price was exceeded only by the $16.5 million that real estate investor Ben Mallah paid earlier this year for a Belleair Shore estate and the $11.18 sale of a mansion overlooking Clearwater Harbor.
In July, the Bellinis bought a 9,000-square-foot house on Mandalay Point for $9.25 million. He could not be reached for comment, but Realtor Martha Thorn, the selling agent on both transactions, said Bellini and his wife "absolutely adore that area.''
"It’s unique to have a boat in the front yard and the Gulf of Mexico in the back,'' she said of the two parcels, which overlook both the gulf and the Intracoastal Waterway. "Nobody ever thought these properties were going to sell but people ended up selling.''
Thorn credited one of her colleagues, agent Leslie Gerlach, for approaching various property owners when the Bellinis said they were interested in buying in that sought-after area north of Clearwater’s popular but crowded beaches.
The couple plan to remodel at least one of the houses, Thorn said.
Bellini, in his early 60s, is an expert swimmer. Among his long-distance feats: He swam the English Channel, the 29 miles around Manhattan and the 21 miles from Los Angeles to Catalina Island.
Sons of an IBM employee, Bellini and brother David started ConnectWise in 1982. The company enjoyed explosive growth in acquiring or developing business management applications that its customers access via cloud computing. Although last winter’s sale of the company led to the layoff of 110 employees, the deal included a total of $270 million in payouts to about 1,000 employees — 70 of whom each received $1 million or more.