Pat Croce — former president of the 76ers; author of inspirational New York Times bestsellers; self-described pirate; museum founder; and Key West habitué and bar owner — put his Lower Merion Colonial on the market for $7.95 million at the end of last year.
Now Croce has entered into an agreement with Premiere Estates Auction Company to bring the 10,500- square-foot home to auction on Oct. 25 “to accelerate the sales process,” as a Premiere spokesperson puts it. It’s an absolute auction, which means that there’s no going back — the highest bid will take the property. Absolute auctions can be intriguing if there’s the possibility that no one shows up except a homeless guy who read about it in the paper at the Free Library, and has a crumpled dollar in his pocket but nothing more.
This isn't Trading Places, though. When there's an auction for an estate like this one, rest assured it will bring more than a dollar, and from someone who knows real estate and the Main Line. If I were a betting gal...well, but I'm not (I'm sorry, Atlantic City. I haven't helped at all).
The home is in a very private location, and has a number of features that, as we noted before, suit a gentleman like Pat, like the athletic amenities of a regulation tennis court, and a pool with a pool house. The photos show a game room with pinball machines and a Croce Coliseum game (as well as Croce featured on the cover of Philly Mag). Croce's in-home office has a multi-person stone counter workspace with terrific views but also a button that darkens the room in case of emergency screening needs. It also has a bar, which most "in-home offices" probably have, if you think about it, though they're often just called "the kitchen cabinet."
The "her" bathroom has a seated television area and glass-front cabinets for display purposes -- shoes and handbags, most likely, but bobbleheads would fit inside as well. There are five fireplaces in the home and plenty of lovely outdoor space with terraces, patios and mature plantings.
The auction's winning bidder won't be getting Croce's belongings, of course, so this is a last chance to look at what made Pat Croce's Villanova home truly emblematic of the man who describes himself as someone who leads "a positive, high energy, adventurous lifestyle with entrepreneurial DNA." We spoke to Mr. Croce about the house. Here's what he had to say.
What did you love about this house?
"I love the ambiance of the home. It's four acres of quiet solitude. I’ve always been in the limelight so this was perfect for me. I could sit outside, it was very private. There's beautiful foliage. Even inside the home is so quiet because it was built a long time ago and the walls are so thick. It’s a big greystone home."
What was your favorite room?
"My office is the bomb. Workwise, it was just perfect. It was a creative womb where I could hang and write my books. Even during the Sixers years, I would just go in there and work. It was a retreat. If you ask my wife--have you seen her bathroom? You have to see it in person. It is to die for. It's a woman's dream. The renovation cost a fortune. The tile she picked is beautiful...the work they did was very extensive."
Why sell the house?
"The house is just great, but it's big. We wanted to downsize. We’re empty nesters and I do a lot of traveling. So we bought the Philly Mag design home 2013. So as I’m talking to you, I’m talking from my new office, which is 10 by 15 when I’m used to that gorgeous office. I miss the office."
What else do you miss?
"The foliage is beautiful but i’m not one to miss anything, if you know anything about me, it’s all about carpe diem. My rearview is very small. Someone’s going to get a great deal with this house. Just as I am about my body with good care and preventive maintenance, that’s how I was with the home. I never let anything get neglected; the home is in great shape. I still have my landscaper there, my pool guy is still there. It’s in the same condition as if I was living there. Someone is going to get a great bargain."
Why do an auction?
"It was up for sale for almost a year. I’m not one to sit around. [BHHS Fox & Roach's] Lavinia [Smerconish] is a great realtor. She suggested an auction and I love this idea because it’s definite. It should be a win-win. Plus, it’s an event and I love events. At the end of the day someone’s going to walk away with the keys. It's a
great way to put a definite closure. Also, what we’ve found out is that people who like the home and can afford to buy the home, many time these people need validation. When I want something I just go after it. But some people require someone else putting a paddle up."
So what are you up to these days aside from selling houses?
"I have six bar-restaurants in Key West and two museums and two bar restaurants in St Augustine. I’m there a lot. I have a home in Key West, and I have an apt above a pirate museum in St Augustine. The History Channel was just at the pirate museum for a new show they're doing."
THE FINE PRINT
Baths: 5 Full/3 Half
Square feet: 10,625 SF
Parking: 10 Car Attached
Annual taxes: $78,562
Pat Croce's Home
Auction info: 835 MOUNT MORO ROAD, VILLANOVA, PA 19085