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Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Dickman family’s island mansions for sale

TAMPA — The Dickman family, historically one of the biggest landholding families in south Hillsborough County, is entertaining offers for its 212-acre private island and two mansions on the shores of Tampa Bay in Ruskin.

Not surprisingly, private island compounds don’t come cheap. List price for the 7,000-square-foot main house and guest house at one end of Dickman Island is just shy of $6 million, while list price for the 4,125-square-foot mansion at the other end is about $2.5 million. Of course, if you want a package deal, the family might consider selling the mansions and island together.

A business representative said the island itself, technically, isn’t listed for sale on the market. But, a year ago the family distributed a flyer showing the entire island, the two mansions and a smaller mansion offered for $25 million. For the right price, they’ll consider selling Dickman Island along with the mansions.

“If somebody wants it. it’s available,” said John Tipton, who represents the Dickmans’ business interests.

Dickman is a historic name around Ruskin, which has an unusual history involving a socialist-leaning college president from the Midwest with big dreams of a Hillsborough County campus. In 1906, that college president, George Miller, envisioned founding a college in Hillsborough County based on the principles of an English writer named John Ruskin.

Everyone should have the chance at a higher education, Miller believed, and poor students should be able to work on the college’s farms and in its industries to help pay their tuition. A patriarch of the Dickman family, then living in Missouri, helped Miller purchase a vast swath of 13,000 acres in south Hillsborough County.

Originally, everyone who bought land in Ruskin became members of the Ruskin Commongood Society, which espoused similar ideals, the VisitRuskin history says.

Over the years, members of the Dickman family became farmers and significant landholders and developers around Ruskin and Apollo Beach.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the family began dredging what now is Dickman Island, a 212-acre island abutting Hillsborough County’s E.G. Simmons Park. They’d intended to dredge the wetlands there, turn it into developable land and build a housing development there. Instead, they lost their government-issued dredging permits midstream, changed directions and built a private island compound, instead, Tipton said.

Today, two family members, Glenn Dickman and the wife of his late brother, Paul Dickman, are looking to downsize, he said.

Glenn’s home hit the market this week, a 7,000-square-foot main and guest house on 4 acres along Tampa Bay. The house features an Asian motif, extensive cedar and cypress wood paneling, multiple fireplaces and and windows throughout showing the bay’s blue waters. The late Paul Dickman’s home was already on the market, billed as a 4,125-square-foot Key West-style resort by the real estate agent for both mansions, Jennifer Zales of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate.

A third smaller home owned by a friend of the family may be part of a package deal for the entire island, Tipton said. The island could sell to a develper, because it is approved for up to 22 lots. Of the island’s 212 acres, 35 are upland and considered developable.

However, the family believes a single buyer may want to keep it and keep it a sparsely developed family compound, he said.

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Twitter: @msasso

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