ST. PETERSBURG — Beds were left unmade, dishes were piling up in the sink and a potato on the kitchen counter of St. Petersburg’s Rock N Roll Bed and Breakfast had grown sprouts.
As buyers flitted through the wood-framed 1910 mansion that reality television star Brent Bruns II once thought was the manifestation of his “genius” idea, he was in Colorado skiing and drinking a glass of Scotch.
“I thought it would just be too stressful to sit there and wait to see what my life was going to be auctioned off for,” Bruns, 42, said of the sale of the 42,000-square-foot house and all the appliances, electronics and rock collectibles it contains. “Is it worth $1 or a million dollars? I don’t know, and the anticipation and absoluteness of it just made me not want to be there. I’m very nervous.”
The property at 121 Fifth Ave. N. was meant to offer nightly rentals to visitors, but as Bruns was filming the National Geographic reality show “Doomsday Castle,” it turned into short-term rentals. While he was filming the show in South Carolina, he said, tenants got behind on the rent, there was mismanagement and the business suffered.
With the money from the sale, Bruns said he hopes to go into aquaponics and find a fresh start in St. Petersburg.
A group of about 50 potential buyers mulled about the grounds or sat in silence on mismatched couches before the house was auctioned, watching a basketball game or staring at a Dio album and books on Tampa Bay’s history that were proudly displayed on the fireplace mantle. Rugs sold for $10, a mirror for $50, and the multicolored walls were full of exposed wires and hooks that once held guitars signed by musicians who have played at Jannus Landing. Cardboard cutouts of Madonna and George Harrison stood discarded in a corner.
“I live a couple houses down and was always curious about what was here,” said Carole Vanzuiden. “Everyone’s curious what the house will go for, and it seems like a developer will probably get it. It’s a great location.”
Most of those interested in the property had plans to tear down the house and its two bungalows, dubbed the “Elvis Cottage” and the “Woodstock Cottage.” Bruns got the city to approve putting four townhouses on the property.
The suggested opening bid of $1 million was met with smirks and silence. Ed Ecker, owner of Simply Sailing charters and sales, had the winning offer with $427,000.
It’s a house he’s seen hundreds of times, inside and out, he said.
“Honestly, I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it right now, but I’m not tearing it down, that’s for sure,” Ecker said as he signed his deposit check. “I live right down the street, I have my sailing business here and I’m a big supporter of Old Northeast. It’ll be around for a little while.”