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Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik buys Sarasota mansion to tear it down

A 6,000-square-foot home on St. Armand’s Key, bought five months ago for $4.25 million, is torn down Monday to make way for what neighbors say will be a three-story home for Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik.
A 6,000-square-foot home on St. Armand’s Key, bought five months ago for $4.25 million, is torn down Monday to make way for what neighbors say will be a three-story home for Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik.
Published Sep. 17, 2013

SARASOTA — What would you do if you just bought a 6,000-square-foot waterfront mansion for more than $4 million in cash?

If you're Tampa Bay Lightning owner and hedge fund multimillionaire Jeff Vinik, you tear it down.

The 54-year-old hockey baron, who has a net worth of half a billion dollars, bought a Key West-style estate on the lush Sarasota Bay island of St. Armand's Key through a shell company in April, when the home was only 12 years old.

But by Monday, an excavator had turned much of the mansion into rubble, ripping through the estate's custom-designed arched windows, crown molding and marble floors.

The multimillion-dollar teardown surprised neighbors, who believed the sumptuous mansion would be replaced by a three-story home for Vinik's family, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Even the agent representing the home's seller, Priscilla Doulton, who had it custom-built at 112 N Washington Drive, was shocked by the home's sudden demolition.

"I expected the house would be remodeled," said Developers Realty agent Reid Murphy. "I did not expect it to be torn down."

Vinik, through Lightning spokesman Bill Wickett, confirmed his family had bought the home but would not share any further details Monday. Kathleen Callender, Vinik's agent in the deal, did not return messages.

The home spans half a football field of waterfront in one of Sarasota's toniest enclaves, and its lushly adorned swimming pool and deep-water dock face the downtown skyline and Ringling Bridge.

Even then, Vinik's $4.25 million payout for what is now a heap of debris could seem a bit confounding. The Sarasota property appraiser said this year the land was worth a third of the selling price, at $1.3 million.

Vinik is no stranger to claims he overpaid for real estate. When, in 2010, he and his wife, Mary Penny Vinik, paid $6 million for a home in South Tampa's Palma Ceia neighborhood, it was the most expensive Hillsborough County home ever sold.

The couple then purchased a smaller home next door for $3.2 million, property records show. One year later, they spent $2.5 million to buy another home less than a block away.

Vinik, who also owns the Tampa Bay Storm Arena Football League team and moved with his family to South Tampa last year, closed his multibillion-dollar hedge fund Vinik Asset Management this year after posting disappointing returns.

He has recently said he wanted to focus more on, among other things, establishing a plan for 20 acres near downtown Tampa and Channelside Bay Plaza.

Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 893-8252 or dharwell@tampabay.com.

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