Shaq is buying a house that fits


BY CHRISTINA HOAG AND DOUGLAS HANKS III / THE MIAMI HERALD. / Shaq has found his shack -- a $20 million super-sized manse in Miami Beach's celebrity-studded enclave of Star Island. The Miami Heat center has made an offer of between $19 million and $20 million for a furnished 19,440 square-foot mansion at 26 Star Island Drive, a source familiar with the real estate deal said Wednesday.

The home, built in the early 1990s by former Heat center Rony Seikaly, has an added bonus: eight-foot-tall doorways. O'Neal, also a center, stands at seven-foot-one. ''It may seem like a lot, but in the future it's going to be a good deal,'' he said. If the deal goes through as expected, O'Neal will join Rosie O'Donnell, Sean ''P. Diddy'' Combs and Gloria and Emilio Estefan as residents of one of Miami's most exclusive communities. The pending sale was first reported by The Daily Business Review. The owner originally asked $24 million-plus for the two-story home, which boasts eight bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a tennis court, indoor racquetball court, gym, pool and four-car garage. Built in 1992, the home has a history with the Heat -- it was formerly occupied by Seikaly, who customized the house to accommodate his 6-foot-11 frame. Seikaly sold it for $7 million in June 1995 to Pelham Properties.

The mansion sits on one of the biggest lots on the island, at 2.5 acres. Last year's property taxes were $362,139. O'Neal first offered about $17 million, which was rejected, and countered with a second offer of $19 million-plus, a second real-estate source familiar with the transaction said. The sports star has requested a quick closing and expects to move into the house at the end of the month, the source said. O'Neal's agent, Perry Rogers in Las Vegas, said his client was anxious to make the move before the school year starts in earnest. ''I think it's important to him and his family to get down there and get settled,'' Rogers said. ``They need to get in their new house and get into a school and be comfortable. I think once it closes, you'll see him make the move pretty quickly.'' Heat players report to training camp on Oct. 5, and Heat officials said they do not expect O'Neal to report before then.

O'Neal, who was traded by the Los Angeles Lakers to the Heat, lives in Orlando during the off-season, and has been working with private trainers during the summer. Jill Eber and Jill Hertzberg, two brokers also involved in the deal, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. The Orlando real estate agent believed to be helping O'Neal, Sandra Jeter, could not be reached for comment.

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