Final renderings display the renovations that will give the former Githler Mansion new life after it was destroyed in a 2019 fire.

A Sarasota power couple, a divorce, a multimillion-dollar home with a politically studded guest list (Rudy Giuliani gave one of his stump speeches there when he ran for president in 2008) and a fire that burned it down. It’s a recipe for a prime time soap opera, but for the developers who bought the home, it’s a prime location deserving of a major remodel.

Commonly referred to as the Githler Mansion due to its prominent former owners Kim and Charles Githler, the home at 374 S. Shore Road, also knowns as Villa Solstice, burned down in a 2019 fire. No one was hurt in the blaze, and the Githlers, who divorced in 2013, had sold the home to a local trust in 2015 for $9 million. 

Real estate development and investment company Kapstones Holdings bought the mansion in April 2020 for $3.3 million. Kapstone Holdings is known mostly for commercial projects with hotels—the company recently built Kompose Hotel by the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport–but it has a presence in the Sapphire Shores neighborhood, building multimillion-dollar, ultramodern concrete and glass homes “as a passion,” Hugo Gagliardi says. He's the owner of Fine Dream Builders, the team leading the remodel with in-house architect Eric Chancellor. The revived mansion will rise from the ashes as “Villa Saracena,” named after the hometown of Hugo’s uncle, Enzo Gagliardi, in Calabria, Italy. Enzo is the president of Kapstones Holdings.

The design for Villa Saracena differs from Kapstone's signature ultramodern work. “The idea is to go contemporary coastal,” Hugo says. Kapstone plans to maintain the home's concrete skeleton, like the foundation slabs and some interior support walls, but "everything that didn’t burn is damaged from the firemen who flooded it, so we're redoing it,” he says.

Other plans include adding 1,500 square feet to the existing 11,000 square feet of living space and a rooftop spa “so you can get the view of the bay, downtown and the bridge,” Hugo says. The rooftop will also have a Zen room, with a yoga and workout space, and an outdoor kitchen and dining area. Kapstone will maintain the resort-style pool but will add an accessory side building with an outdoor bar and a second lap pool measuring more than 200 linear feet long (for comparison, an Olympic pool is 164 linear feet long). The plans also call for another story with a full master bedroom suite over the front entrance. Finishes will feature “super-high-end quality materials from all over the world,” Hugo says, like tiles from Spain and interior doors from Italy.

If there are no hiccups, the remodel will take anywhere from a year to 18 months. “There’s no fixed budget,” he says, but estimates it will cost at least a couple of million dollars. “It’s going to be a chef d’oeuvre.”

As for whether Kapstone will sell or hold on to Villa Saracena—well, that’s “up in the air,” Hugo says.

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