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No pad for helicopter, but still a mansion

Commissioners okay a philanthropist's plans for a dwelling that at 39,000 square feet - that's just for the main house - will be the county's largest.

Published May 24, 2006

TAMPA - It's official. Multimillionaire philanthropist Kiran Patel has permission to build the biggest mansion in Hillsborough County.

On Tuesday, the Hillsborough County Commission approved Dr. Patel's rezoning request without discussion. The vote allows the Tampa cardiologist to begin construction on 17 acres at Linebaugh Avenue and N Dale Mabry Highway on White Trout Lake.

Patel hopes to build a family compound with a 39,000-square-foot main house, a 5,000-square-foot office, five large homes for family members and quarters for hired help and guests.

Some fancier features include a large glass lotus blossom structure for practicing yoga, a replica of the Taj Mahal carved into a rock mountain, waterfalls, fountains, ponds and a 450-foot-long swimming pool.

The home would be bigger than the 32,000-square-foot Avila mansion built by financier Paul Bilzerian, which is currently the largest in Hillsborough County.

The mansion's designer, Jim McQuerter of Tampa's McQuerter Concepts, has spent the past two years working on the sprawling project. He said he needs another three months to finish design and site plans before construction crews can set to work. "As one might imagine, these plans are huge," McQuerter said. "It's a very complex and involved and technical home, so much out of the ordinary and away from typical."

Patel didn't return calls placed to his home and office Tuesday.

A few aspects of the home have been scaled back a bit. Some neighbors on White Trout Lake were concerned about use of the lake, noise and traffic congestion during Patel's parties and events.

Plans for a helicopter landing pad and a floating putting green are gone.

The updated plan adds two extra entrances and exits to alleviate traffic. And a condition of the rezoning prohibits the compound's privacy wall from obscuring the sign for neighboring Grace Lutheran Church.

Patel bought the property for $3.2-million in September 2003. It once was a neighborhood of 11 small houses built in the 1950s and '60s. The property was rezoned in 1984 for townhouses and office buildings.

Patel started the Tampa-based HMO WellCare in 1985 and built it into a $1-billion business before selling to a New York investment group more than three years ago.

Patel is involved in other ventures, including a software company and a hotel and condo development on Clearwater Beach.

The Patels, who live on Lake Carroll in Carrollwood, have donated to causes including Tampa's University Community Hospital, the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center and the University of South Florida.

[Last modified May 24, 2006, 04:31:10]

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