Luxury goes on sale

Tucson's most expensive house is headed for auction block, creating a buzz after spending years on and off the market
2013-04-14T00:00:00Z Luxury goes on saleGabriela Rico Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 14, 2013 12:00 am  • 

It might be a Hollywood star, a shy athlete or a serenity-seeking CEO.

All sorts of people are expected to bid on Tucson's priciest house when it goes up for auction next month.

Bidding opens at $8.4 million for the secluded 25,000-square-foot Campbell Cliffs residence, located in the Catalina Foothills above Skyline Drive.

The house sits on 6 acres. Four adjacent, undeveloped lots - each more than three acres in size - are included in the sale.

Completed in 2004, the house boasts a 1,200-square-foot kitchen, a home theater and two elevators.

"We're getting on in age and wanted to downsize," said the home's owner, Cary Marmis. "We want a different lifestyle."

He and his wife, Fern, built the home in order to accommodate large charitable and political fundraising events, which they hosted over the years, the Air Force veteran said.

The couple invested "a lot more" than the opening bid amount, he said, but declined to give an exact figure.

"It's definitely less than what I invested," said Marmis, a retired real estate developer with projects in 20 cities in seven states. He and his wife are avid golfers and will remain in Tucson after the house sells.

The decision to sell the property to auction was to "create urgency," Marmis said.

The property was at one time valued at $22 million. The 2012 property taxes were $68,119, records from the Pima County Assessor's office show.

Creating a Buzz

The auction will be May 14. Potential buyers must submit sealed bids by then for the whole property or for an individual lot, said John Cuticelli, CEO of Sheldon Good & Co., which specializes in auctioning luxury homes.

He said the benefit of auction is creating buzz.

"It signals to the market that the seller is now serious about selling," he said of the auction process. "It's a call to action."

Pima County Assessor's records show the home's 2014 valuation is $5,271,250.

Asked how the opening bid of $8.4 million was determined, Cuticelli said, "It's something we just worked with the owner on.

"This home is so unique … the quality of construction and design is extraordinary," he said. "This home is an example of the ingredients in the cake having nothing to do with the price of the cake."

Cuticelli predicts there will be a lot of bidders.

"I could easily see a wealthy 'dot-com' executive - on the younger side - being very interested in this property," he said. "Seclusion is attractive to many people and we live in a virtual world."

The auction house is working with Long Realty of Tucson on the sale.

Martha Briggs, the listing agent, agreed that the property will draw diverse bidders.

"It's going to be someone who appreciates two things, the incredible home and the incredible value," she said. "The reproduction cost of the house alone is estimated by the architect and general contractor to be at $40 million and that's not including the value of the land."

The property will likely sell to one bidder, Briggs said.

"Buying all of it makes most sense because then the owner has the option to keep it all or to sell off or develop it," she said. "The new owner could control where or whether other homes are built."

As for it being attractive to some glitzy celebrity, Briggs thinks it unlikely.

"People who want to be in the limelight don't pick Tucson," she said. "That doesn't mean it won't be a movie star, it's just that this is not the place to be if you want to be on TMZ every night."

On StarNet: Go to azstarnet.com to view a slide show of Tucson's high-end homes.

Did you know?

The top 10 priciest homes in the Tucson area, based on Pima County assessed value, are:

1. Location: North Catalina Ridge Drive

Owner: Cary and Fern Marmis

Valuation: $5,271,250

2. Location: North Secret Canyon Drive

Owner: Donald L. Rogers

Valuation: $4,033,830

3. Location: North Finger Rock Place

Owner: Thomas W. and Veronica L. Rogers

Valuation: $3,718,425

4. Location: East Sentry Ridge Court

Owner: Jeannine M. and H. Coleman Davis III

Valuation: $2,837,976

5. Location: North Secret Canyon Drive

Owner: Vandermark Living Trust

Valuation: $2,652,957

6. Location: North Femhill Circle

Owner: Wayne W. and Kathryn Henry Bixenman Revocable Trust

Valuation: $2,544,393

7. Location: North Secret Canyon Drive

Owner: Francis and Catherine Brown

Valuation: $2,491,791

8. Location: North Secret Canyon Drive

Owner: Ronald F. and Mary E. McKenna

Valuation: $2,442,037

9. Location: North Camino Antonio

Owner: Marshall Family Revocable Living Trust

Valuation: $2,420,000

10. Location: North Secret Canyon Drive

Owner: Ash Paul Tucson Marital Election Trust

Valuation: $2,410,136

Source: Pima County Assessor's Office

Auction

• Campbell Cliffs, 7474 N. Catalina Ridge Drive

• Opening bid: $8.4 million

• Auction date: May 14

Property features:

• 24 rooms

• 2,000 square-foot staff quarters

• Six-car garage

• 300-person formal dining

• 2,200-bottle wine cellar

• Indoor gun and archery range

• Tennis court

• Multilevel pool area

• Go online to sheldongood.com and click on the "view all" auctions for more information or call Martha Briggs at Long Realty to schedule a tour, 888-8844.

Contact reporter Gabriela Rico at grico@azstarnet.com or 573-4232.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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