Tampa Bay's priciest mansions include extravagant amenities whose selling power is debatable

This Tarpon Springs home, on the market for $14.3 million, has a private village that includes an ice cream parlor and a movie house.
This Tarpon Springs home, on the market for $14.3 million, has a private village that includes an ice cream parlor and a movie house.
Published April 10, 2015

If you're cleaning your closet and wondering how to get even half of that junk back in there, here's a solution: a master closet so big it's two stories tall. If the NCAA hoops championship had you yearning to slam dunk a few, what better place to practice than on your very own basketball court?

And if you're tired of loading everybody into the car to get some ice cream, why not hit the parlor in your own private village?

Yes, among the Sub-Zero appliances, media rooms and spa tubs that have become de rigueur in Tampa Bay's priciest homes, you can still find amenities that are unusual even by luxe standards. But are these really selling points?

"You sort of think it's too much space, but the more you're in the house, the more it draws you back," Smith & Associates agent Dina Smith says of the basketball court in the mansion built by disgraced corporate raider Paul Bilzerian. "The space is there, so if somebody needs to convert it to an art gallery, they could."

The 13-bedroom, six-bath house, which also has a racquetball court, hit the market late last year after a Louisiana bank took it back in a foreclosure auction. Though the price was recently dropped to $5.5 million from $6.5 million, there have been no takers for the lakefront estate in Tampa's gated Avila community.

(Bilzerian, who spent 13 months in prison for illegal stock manipulation, apparently is still in self-imposed exile on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts.)

While huge walk-in closets are nothing new in upscale homes, the Avila mansion of Baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar boasts what may be the only two-story one in Tampa Bay.

The ground floor — the "hers" level with a center storage unit that can accommodate enough footwear to fill a shoe store — has 10 steps leading up to the second story "his" space.

"There are two doors," notes agent Dianne Martin of Century 21. "One enters through the bedroom, the other through the master bath."

Martin says lookers love the capacious amount of storage, though this house, too, remains unsold despite a recent price cut to $4.99 million. Among its other selling points: an indoor pool and nine bedrooms, all ensuite.

The most over-the-top property currently on the bay area market is a 16-acre estate in Tarpon Springs.

The owner, who had a title business, was so thrilled with the finished product in 2006 that he took out a full-page ad in the St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times) to congratulate builder Jerry Glaser.

In addition to a main residence of 21,000 square feet, the new owner will get a 6,200-square-foot guest house in which to park the in-laws, a gated boardwalk leading to 11 miles of riding trails and a pool with rope bridge, water slide, swim-up tiki bar and 14 "tumbling" waterfalls.

But by far the most unusual aspect is the Village. According to the listing, it is:

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"A whimsical entertaining wing comprising a movie house with marquee, a pub, a poker and cigar room, loft style music lounge, an ice cream shop, and a book store/library."

"The Village is what intrigues everyone" says Diane Swainston, the Sotheby's International Realty agent. "There's something for everyone to enjoy. Most people looking at this house are looking for places the family can be together because families don't live in the same area anymore, they're all scattered. They want that kind of family compound."

If that's not too much togetherness for you, this all can be yours for $14.3 million.

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