From left, commissioners Richard Jordan, Robert E. Schmidt Jr., and Raymond Piscitelli are all smiles after being sworn in March 20 for new terms on the Belleair Shore Town Commission.
BELLEAIR SHORE – Construction of the largest house yet in this upscale community of huge residences is due to begin next month.
Mayor John Robertson announced at the March 20 Town Commission meeting that a contract has been let for the 17,500-square-foot home of Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, and construction is scheduled to start the first week in April. The house will occupy a gulf-front lot of more than an acre. Robertson said last year that few properties of this size on the gulf ever come to market. The lot has been vacant for three years.
Design of the home was presented at a commission meeting last July. Special features include “a Venice-style lazy river running from the swimming pool underneath a series of bridges” and a bowling alley on the ground level with breakaway walls, architect Dan Dawson said then.
Dawson also indicated the home would take three-and-a-half to- four years to build, far in excess of the time limits allowed by the town’s stringent building code. That law permits six months from the issuance of a building permit to begin construction, and 24 months from the permit date for completion. One six-month extension is allowed.
Robertson said at the March 20 meeting the town is eager to work with Howard and his builder to get the project under way and completed.
“We will cooperate in every way we can with Mr. Howard,” including requests for extensions on building, as long as there is progress on the house, he said.
“How can we say ‘no’ to a project of this size when it’s 98 percent done?” added Commissioner John E. Hayes Jr.
Howard is a multiple MVP winner and star player with the Phillies. Hayes said last May he had met Howard and his family and the town is looking forward to having them as residents.
“They are nice people,” he said.
Equipment not allowed on beach
Belleair Shore does not participate in beach nourishment programs, and equipment related to the upcoming project will not be allowed on the town beaches, Robertson said.
The heavy machinery “digs up a lot of sand,” he said.
It also causes vibrations which can damage pools and decks, said Commissioner Robert E. Schmidt Jr.
Robertson said the equipment must be moved on Gulf Boulevard rather than along the beach when the nourishment project moves from Belleair Beach to Indian Rocks Beach. Crossing the beach has been a problem in earlier nourishments, he said. Hayes agreed to contact county coastal manager Andy Squires to discuss the town’s concerns.
Belleair Shore does not do beach nourishment due to private property issues.
Commissioners begin new terms
Commissioners Jordan, Piscitelli and Schmidt were sworn in for new terms on the commission. Belleair Shore commission members are long serving. Jordan is beginning his third two-year term, and Piscitelli his fourth. Schmidt said he had been on the commission since 1996 (eight terms), when meetings were held in the mayor’s house.