Mansion leaves celebrity hands
By DEBORAH O'NEIL
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 11, 2001
CLEARWATER -- Television and movie star Kirstie Alley has sold the waterfront mansion she bought from Lisa Marie Presley.
The 5,200-square-foot home on N Osceola Avenue sold in March for $1.6-million to Carol A. Berc, who years ago built one of Tarpon Springs' most expensive homes in the exclusive Harbor Watch neighborhood. Berc could not be reached for comment.
Alley purchased the home from Presley in May 2000 for $1.5-million through her California company, True Blue Productions, according to public records, which indicate the actor used the property as a second home.
Presley and Alley are prominent members of the Church of Scientology, which maintains its spiritual headquarters in downtown Clearwater a few blocks from the home.
"(Kirstie Alley) is selling this because she is apparently getting a villa in Italy," said church spokesman Ben Shaw. "She is trading one for the other."
Shaw said she has visited Clearwater frequently for church services and will continue to do so, even now that she has sold her home.
Berc is not a Scientologist, said real estate agent Debbie Garrigan, who managed the sale with fellow agent Eleanor Evans. In 1995, Berc told the Times she was a born-again Christian.
She said then she had had a $1.2-million home built in Harbor Watch as a surprise for her husband. At the time, the Harbor Watch home was the most expensive new home in Tarpon Springs. It is now on the market with Garrigan and Associates for $1.3-million to $1.4-million.
Garrigan said Berc will live in the Osceola Avenue home and was attracted to it because of the spacious guest quarters and boat access.
"She's really family oriented," Garrigan said. "She's really a neat person. She'll be a great neighbor."
The guest house has two apartments that Alley left furnished in what Garrigan described as an "old-world plaid" style. Other furnishings were left behind in the home, but Alley took all of her personal items, Garrigan said.
For the quiet, eclectic Old Clearwater Bay neighborhood, the sale marks the end of a run of celebrity status that started in 1996 when Presley moved in.
"The funny thing was always seeing in the grocery store a picture of your neighborhood with the celebrities on the cover," said area resident Beth Goodgame. "It even happened in some national magazines."
Neighbor Angela Panoutsakos, who lives across the street from the Osceola Avenue house, said Presley's ownership attracted more attention than Alley's. She never met either star but remembers television camera crews circling the house for hours. She and her husband declined offers of hundreds of dollars from tabloid magazines that wanted to spend the night in their home and spy on Presley.
"For three years there were people trying to climb the wall, trying to go through the gate, trying to punch the computer and open the gate," Panoutsakos said. "They offered us all kinds of money to rent the house for one night or two nights. We're people who respect privacy."
Set back from the street, the mansion is surrounded by a 6-foot privacy wall and black gate. With three levels, it overlooks Clearwater Harbor and features a swimming pool, spa and a 150-foot dock.
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