By DREW HARWELL,
c.2012 Tampa Bay Times¢@
CLEARWATER Century Oaks, the opulent 14-bedroom estate that birthed one of Clearwater's wealthiest neighborhoods, is up for sale at $17.5 million, making it the priciest home on the market in Tampa Bay.
The 30,000-square-foot estate was listed for sale Friday by businessman and world-champion powerboat racer Hugh Fuller, who bought it for $5.5 million in 1996 from British Formula 1 driver Nigel Mansell.
The gated compound, at 802 Druid Road, boasts two pools, tennis and basketball courts, boat docks and an air-conditioned five-car garage with a hydraulic car lift, a listing said.
Cascading gardens, fountains, a bell tower and live oaks up to 500 years old dot the estate's 3 acres of waterfront bluff.
The main house, a traditional Mediterranean-style white stucco mansion with a green-tile roof and red-brick driveway, holds 10 bedrooms, 15 full and nine half bathrooms, two guest wings and staff quarters.
Swaddled in Brazilian cherry wood and marble, specialty rooms include a library, a theater room, a music studio and a lofty ballroom with three crystal chandeliers.
The North House, the estate's guest quarters, features four bedrooms, a suite of offices, a full gym, and music, sun and billiard rooms.
Property taxes this year cost $150,000.
The estate was built in 1915 by Dean Alvord, a New York developer who built on the site of Fort Harrison, a military post for settlers during the Second Seminole War. The exclusive, deed-restricted enclave was called Harbor Oaks.
Clearwater's first planned residential subdivision, it was built with then-innovative amenities such as paved streets and underground utilities to attract moneyed Northern industrialists and professionals looking to winter in the Florida sun. Lots sold for $1,750.
Alvord's estate, the first built in the subdivision that newspaper ads called "The Riviera of the Sunny South," was then sold to Robert Brown, the Detroit inventor of the special black paint used on Ford Model T automobiles.
The estate, listed by Smith & Associates agent Sophia Vasilaros, is nearly $5 million pricier than the next most expensive homes on the market, one in Harbor Oaks and the other in Tampa's Avila enclave.
Fuller is looking to sell the estate because he plans to spend more time at his other properties, Vasilaros said,
"It is unimaginable tranquility," Vasilaros said. "It's absolutely breathtaking."