MARCO ISLAND — If you have been shivering on cold mornings in Southwest Florida, remember what you could be dealing with. The Midwesterners at Top Ten Real Estate Deals, looking out their windows at what was still on the ground of the 100-plus inches of snow they have received this winter, have re-issued their list of the Top Ten U.S. Beach Homes, perhaps dreaming of warmer climes.
Here on Marco Island, the good news is you don’t have to travel far to get into the top 10. Number four on the list, a 17,000 total sq. ft. (just 9,000 sq. ft. of living area) Italianate palazzo, sits right on the northern edge of the island in the Hideaway Beach Club.
Jim Prange and his daughter Nikki Prange-Carroll of Premier Properties have the listing on the nationally-recognized house. Being named to a top 10 list has helped raise the visibility of the home, they said, but it has been getting a lot of attention in any event.
“We’re on so many websites. We get hits from all over,” said Jim Prange. “MTV wanted to feature this home on their “Cribs” show, and it’s been on the electronic billboard in Times Square in New York.”
The home is a bargain, too. Once listed for $10.5 million, it now can be had for a price of only $7.9 million. And if you make a cash offer, who knows? For comparison, the number one house on the top 10 list, located in Honolulu, has an asking price of $29 million.
The home was built 12 years ago for Bill Gibson. An entrepreneur who built up a high-tech company and sold it to Bill Gates, he is the brother of Marco city councilman Jerry Gibson.
“He doesn’t need to sell it, but it’s a lot of house if you’re not here using it,” said Prange. The home incorporates a luxurious “mother-in-law” suite, and Gibson’s mother is the only full-time occupant, he said.
Striking with its cupolas, parapets, soaring columns and singular roofline, the home contains over a million dollars worth of stonework alone, said Prange. The look reflects the owner’s fascination with Italy’s Amalfi Coast.
Tile and unpolished Florida keystone form a motif throughout the home, as do the distinctive curved wrought-iron railings. Architect Bill Lewis, who also created the intricate interior detailing and built-ins, is known for designing the home of rap star Eminem.
The massive kitchen would do justice to a medium-size restaurant, with the only drawback being possible fatigue setting in if you left your measuring spoon at the other end of the room. Prange believes there are six dishwashers, but he’s not sure, he said.
“This is one of only 29 beachfront single family lots on Marco, all of them in Hideaway,” said Jim. Looking out directly onto the beach, Big Marco Pass, and Keewaydin Island, the view is lively, as opposed to an empty ocean. Across the street is a preserve area that will never be built on.
Prange is no stranger to the upper end of the real estate market on Marco.
“In the last year, there were two sales over $3 million, and we had three out of four,” he said – his team had both listings, and handled both ends of one of the transactions. “One of the homes, we sold over the phone, sight unseen, for $3.6 million. It’s been a goofy market.”
Of course, you could opt to move up the top ten list to number three, but if you do, plan to dress warmly when you head out onto the beach for a stroll. At the tip of Long Island in New York, that home will set you back $14.5 million, and the weather is still a little brisk this time of year.
Winston Churchill said, “I have simple tastes. I only like the best.”