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L’Ambiance condo sells for $4.8 million; seller Howard C. Tibbals created the Howard Bros. Circus at Ringling

A first-floor double sized unit at L’Ambiance on south Longboat Key closed on Nov. 17 for $4.8 million.

Of note is the residence was the long-time home of  Howard C. Tibbals, creater of the Howard Bros. Circus, which is a ¾-inch-to-the-foot scale replica of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus located on the Ringling Estate in Sarasota. It includes a complete reproduction of the entire circus (circa the 1920s).

Longboat Realtor Roger Pettingell, who represented the seller, Tibbals, said that the sale of high-end listings are up over the same period last year. He added that the renovation of the lobbies at L’Ambiance has proved positive and that new buyers like the look.

Tibbals asked Ringling management if he could use their name for his circus when he started building it, but they refused. So he called it The Howard Bros. Circus instead.

Tibbals began toying with circuses in 1943, at the age of 7. At 12 he was given a lathe and jigsaw, which advanced his model building. Tibbals started working on the model in earnest in 1956. Much of the circus was completed by 1974, but it did not premiere until the 1982 World Fair in Knoxville, TN.

In 2004, Tibbals set up the Circus at its current location in the Ringling Estate’s Tibbals Learning Center, which includes a full-scale replica of Tibbals’s workshop. It took Tibbals over one year to set up the circus in its current location. It contains 42,143 items, not including small pieces such as thousands of railroad stakes. Tibbals helped finance the circus with $10.5 million of his own money.

Pettingell has been involved in 108 sales at L’Ambiance in his career and was on site in 1994 working for Arvida when the initial and original units at L’Ambiance were sold. Pettingell says he is on target to reach a record $100,000 million in closed sales volume for 2017.

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