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Welcome to Mansion Monday, our weekly spotlight on distinguished domiciles selling for seven figures and up in Tampa Bay.

First up, a prime example of how hot the local real estate market has become. When I spoke to Bill Wyess about his beguiling $3.8 million, 4-bedroom, 4-bath, 3,046 sq-ft Spanish Colonial on Sunset Beach — a home he designed and built himself — sale was pending. By the time you read this, he’s 99 percent certain that the status will have changed to SOLD!

In future, we hope to highlight homes that are still on the market, and welcome any suggestions for coverage from property owners, realtors or real estate junkies. But I am happy to launch the Mansion Monday feature with this particular home, sold or not, because it so exemplifies the kinds of homes I am drawn to.

I stumbled upon 8440 W. Gulf Boulevard on Zillow, and noticed right away that there was something distinctive about its interpretation of Hispanic style. Rather than the cookie-cutter version we see in developments throughout Florida, this home’s attention to detail, its interesting angles and arches, and its well-scaled living spaces made it stand out. Plus, the views! Here’s a roundup of photos courtesy of Barb Ulrich of Keller Williams Gulfside Realty (except for a few by yours truly), with info about the house from my interview with Bill and his wife, Chris. 

A Class A general contractor and a certified building official and plans examiner, Wyess has built and sold many homes on this same stretch of Sunset Beach, and he designed and oversaw construction of 8440 W. Gulf Boulevard in 1997. (He bought the lot for $190,000 in 1994.) Tired of building “square boxes” to fit onto the boulevard’s small lots, he decided to create a home that would reflect his love for timeless Spanish architecture.

Wyess wanted the design to evoke “an old-school city atmosphere,” as if the house were comprised of additions made over the years. The above view, he says, “would be like the front of the house with the balcony overlooking the street.” His impeccable attention to detail is reflected in the latticework on the garage (left); its pattern is echoed in a fence that faces it beyond the greenery. Both are made of rough-sawn cedar.
“I absolutely hate going into a house and you’re right there in the living room,” says Bill. Hence, this austerely elegant anteroom.
When you ascend into the living room, the expanse of the space and the view of the Gulf are a breathtaking surprise.
When friends saw Bill’s plans, they wondered why he was giving the kitchen this window on the Gulf and not the dining or living room. “You spend 90 percent of your time washing dishes!” he replied. Small-paned bay windows like this one distinguish the interior.
A view of the master bedroom. Subtlety reigns throughout the home, with touches like arched entries and extra-wide hallways. Photo: David Warner
The master bedroom and balcony. Wyess intentionally created a circular traffic pattern on the second floor so that there are two ways to exit in case of emergency. (His previous home on Sunset Beach burned down when the house next door caught fire.)
The house is solidly built of stucco, concrete and steel and supported by 35-foot-long pilings driven into the sand. Despite the proximity of neighboring homes, it’s soundproof — the only neighbor you’re aware of inside the house is the Gulf.
“I love living here,” says Chris Wyess. “I love the house, I love this,” indicating the view. “You look out the window, at times you see the dolphins, every day it’s different. And the sunsets… Omigod, the sunsets are unbelievable.”
A back view of the home at night.
The walkway to the beach, bordered by sea grapes.
Bill and Chris Wyess at their welcoming front door. Photo: David Warner.

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