Thursday, May 28, 2009
Can you make out the sweet little lighthouse on the right? It stands oh so proudly but wishes this view didn't shout industrial park. It would seem that it is engulfed by equipment and is smack in the middle of a less than ideal location. Well, the camera can certainly deceive, even lie to us at times. Right? Let me tell you a bit about what seems to be the lighthouse's unfortunate and less than desirable location. First, it is not sitting smack in the midst of ship repair cranes, boat lifts, fuel tanks and mechanical equipment of every size and description. It's actually on its own narrow point of land at the tip of one of Tampa's most desirable pieces of real estate - Harbour Island. (Yes, I've shown small parts of the island in previous posts and written about its excellent views of the city and superb location. The island can boast of two really good restaurants that I recommend Cafe Dufrains and That's Amore Italian.) The lighthouse - and I would guess its owners have given it a name - is a special architectural folly, if you will, at the home of one of Tampa's most generous families, the Baileys, widely known for their philanthropy through the Bailey Foundation. The 13,000 square foot home they designed and had built sits on the tip of the island in a gated section called The Pointe. It's an exclusive section of home owners who enjoy the proximity to Tampa's downtown, its exclusive address, and walled and gated security. Not only does their exquisite home feature the lighthouse but its own 100,000-gallon swimming pool. The entire home was said to cost between $4-million and $6-million. Harbour Island, which used to be a very totally forgettable eyesore so close to downtown, a dusty, dirty island of railroad tracks and loading docks for phosphate, was transformed (not overnight) into a wealth of homes, condos, apartments, shops and amenities such as restaurants, bars and office buildings. All of this within walking distance of downtown. Two bridges connect the city to the island but it remains a world unto itself. Jogging trails, playground, boat docks and lush landscaping announce you've arrived in a bit of paradise. From its earliest start as a planned development in 1971, it has gone through many lives and grand ideas to arrive at the totally transformed and highly desirable address it is today. When you look at the lighthouse, all of the other things you see are across Sparkman Channel, a very wide, 40 foot+ deep channel which is directly accessible from the Gulf of Mexico. Once a ship slides under the 175 foot height of the Skyway Bridge, they enter Tampa Bay. Many ships are headed for the lighthouse's neighbor, Tampa Ship, LLC, just across the channel. It has got to be fun to watch the traffic right in your backyard. A company which has a long history in Tampa, Tampa Ship employs over 500 men and women in building, inspecting and repairing ships of almost any size. The really huge lifts to the left of the lighthouse and building are for accommodating ships of up to 907 feet...three times the length of an American football field. The building is 600 feet long and 145 feet wide and 115 feet high - that can contain a mighty big ship. The lifts can handle over 800 tons. So, is the dear lighthouse surrounded by ruffians and tough characters. Yes and no. Just a leap across the channel is a giant ship repair facility. To the other side across Seddon Channel is Davis Islands, a beautiful place to live. The lighthouse celebrates two worlds. A special companion, a folly of sorts, to a multi-million dollar home. Its other world? What every lighthouse has always been asked to do. Shine its beacon for ships and sailors looking for land, comfort and safe passage. It excels in every respect. Now, what is its name?