Mansion owners find room to thank builder
Jerry Glaser opens up his newspaper and sees a full-page color ad from a Pinellas family.
By JAMES THORNER
Published May 23, 2006
Jerry Glaser spent three years building one of the Tampa Bay region's biggest and priciest houses. And he got one of the biggest and priciest thank-you notes in return.
This is the house Jerry Glaser built.
Glaser's wealthy clients so admired his work on their $15.6-million, 26,000-square-foot estate near Tarpon Springs they bought a full-page color ad in Sunday's St. Petersburg Times.
The super-sized Hallmark card cost the equivalent of a decent Winnebago: $49,452.
"Thank you Jerry Glaser of Glaser Custom Homes for all the hard work that you have put in our project for the last three years,'' the ad read. "Because of you, our dream home has become a reality. Thank you, The Baumgarts."
Glaser had returned from church on Sunday, poured himself a coffee, and retreated to his balcony with his newspaper. About a dozen pages into the thick Sunday copy, he got more than a caffeine jolt.
"I got to Page 13 and almost fell out of the chair,'' the Clearwater custom home builder said. "I told them it's the classiest thing I'd every seen."
It's more than three years since Bill and Nancy Baumgart hired Glaser to build their dream home off Keystone Road in northeast Pinellas County, part of an exclusive millionaires' enclave developed by former pro basketball player Matt Geiger.
Until he sold the company last month, Baumgart was owner of Transcontinental Title Co. and racked up 8,000 transactions a month across 38 states. He remains with the company in an executive position.
Tired of their 19,000-square-foot abode in the Countryside section of Clearwater, the Baumgarts pulled out all the stops for the new place, a resortlike sprawl of orange tile roof.
Inside a wing of the eight-bedroom, 14-bathroom house, Glaser built a cobblestone "piazza'' fronted by shops that include a working ice cream parlor and 1930s-style movie house gleaming with 4 pounds of gold leaf trim.
The 30-foot ceiling over the piazza is illuminated by dimmer lights that simulate the passing of the day. The Baumgarts' swimming pool is a facsimile of the lazy river ride at a theme park in Orlando. The 5,000-square-foot guest house surpasses in size most people's full-time pads.
"You just cannot believe the detail in this house. For him to find the subcontractors to do this stuff is uncanny," Bill Baumgart said of Glaser, who for the movie theater recruited the contractor who worked on Oprah Winfrey's place. "He had to work on our project 24/7.''
The Baumgarts and their three girls plan to move into the new mansion June 15. First up is a trip to the South Pacific island of Tahiti.
As for Glaser, he ranks the Baumgart home not just among the biggest in the region, but among the most elaborate and luxurious. After three years working out of a construction trailer on the Baumgarts' 7 acres, Glaser appreciates the pat on the back from his big-money customers.
"I do it for the money, but I also do it for the atta-boys," he said. "It was the ultimate compliment to see it in the paper."
[Last modified May 23, 2006, 05:25:13]
[an error occurred while processing this directive]