Our Neighborhoods | Stunning estates, golf history part of Concession

srocco@bradenton.comJanuary 19, 2014 

EAST MANATEE

Judy Hanson gently stirs a steaming pot of wild rice that will soon be topped with dijon maple salmon.

Just one item on her list of chores that Friday afternoon.

As an estate manager, Hanson captains Lou and Ann Marie Marinaccio's 10,500-square-foot home in The Concession.

She cooks, she cleans. She buys the groceries. She does the laundry. She spoils four dogs. And most important of all, she plans all the Marinaccios' social gatherings.

The power couple -- he is the president and CEO of Lakewood Ranch-based MGA Insurance, she is the company's chief financial officer -- hosted a gala for the Perlman Foundation last month at their home. More than 80 guests arrived to nosh on elegant food and sip on bubbly beverages. Hanson planned the entire affair.

But she doesn't do it alone. To manage the Marinaccio's primary home, plus two properties in Lakewood Ranch, is a two-person task. Her husband, Dana, is always along for the ride.

The people who live in The Concession?

Doctors. Lawyers. IT specialists. Stock brokers. Retirees.

The kind of people who can afford to have a Judy or a Dana.

Tucked away on 1,200 acres of land, where University Parkway dead ends to the east, The Concession's 236 home sites are

widely spread out -- about one home for every three acres -- and surrounded by 250-year-old oak trees that remain untouched. Home and lot packages start at $899,000, with larger homes at $2 million or more.

Surprisingly, the centerpiece of The Concession isn't the palatial homes. The real magic of The Concession lies in a story of sportsmanship, a legendary act.

Golf greats Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin were standing at the final hole of the 1969 Ryder Cup. Nicklaus conceded a two-foot putt to Jacklin that marked the first tie in Ryder Cup history. The moment became known as "the concession."

So when Nicklaus designed this golf course and its surrounding community, he named it after that famous gesture.

The Nicklaus Signature golf course, built in 2006, spans 520 acres. It will be home to the 2015 NCAA Men's and Women's Championships.

"It's No. 4 in the state of Florida," said Concession Realtor Mark Bruce. "On the local barometer, on a scale of one to 10, it's a 20."

The Concession, developed by Core Development and Property Markets Group, opened during the real estate boom in the mid 2000s. Newcomers bought land and built massive homes. Some planned to stay there for the long haul. Many had every intention of selling their home two or three years later to turn a hefty profit.

Consider Kevin Rubin, a senior financial adviser for Merrill Lynch, who bought a lot in 2005 and built a 5,400-square-foot home with builder John Cannon. He planned to sell it, make money and buy a home in Lakewood Ranch.

"A lot of peoples' intentions six years ago are a lot different than what their intention is today," said Rubin, 55.

When Rubin moved into his home in 2007, the market was already beginning to crash, and his home wasn't selling.

Instead of walking away with fistfuls of cash, Rubin became a permanent resident of The Concession.

"When I bought my lot, my goal was to build a home here, make a lot of money, sell it and relocate to a house in Lakewood Ranch. My goal was never to live here," Rubin said.

Now as the market picks up, the dynamic of the neighborhood is changing. People who buy resale homes -- there are about seven for sale now -- or build new homes in the neighborhood will be there permanently.

"The people buying here today are not traders, they're not flippers. These are people who truly want to come here ... and build a quality home -- not oversized, right-sized -- and they're going to live in it for the next 15-20 years," Rubin said. "The complexion of the neighborhood is changing and has changed for the better."

As the housing market builds back up, new residents are building smaller homes that they'll reside in year-round. Homes in the 2,800-square-foot range are on the rise right now.

"We want the public to understand that to live in this neighborhood, you don't have to build a McMansion," Bruce said.

For the Marinaccios, The Concession would always be their primary residence. The couple built a Mediterranean-style home, also with John Cannon. Their sprawling, two-story mansion boasts four bedrooms, seven bathrooms, a home theater, wine cellar, two fully-stocked bars and several living areas.

"We built the home so we could do business entertaining as well as philanthropic entertaining," Lou said.

Avid golfers, the Marinaccios were thrilled to have a Nicklaus course in their community.

"We knew that they were going to build a wonderful clubhouse and the golf course would be world class," Lou said.

The couple plans to expand its estate to include a guest house. They bought the lot next to them last month.

Sabrina Rocco, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @sabrinarocco.

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