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Peek at the Unique to offer tour of on-island homes

By Staff | Mar 10, 2020

PHOTO PROVIDED Exterior of the 40-year-old home of Charles Sobczak and Molly Heuer.

Tickets are selling fast for a special opportunity to tour five, privately-owned island residences.

The Zonta Club of Sanibel-Captiva will host its 19th annual Peek at the Unique on March 14, with groups of Peekers leaving every 30 minutes from the Sanibel Community Church starting at 8:30 a.m. The three-hour tour features riding in air-conditioned luxury buses, while a guide provides insights.

This year, the five locations consist of two homes owned by couples who are friends, connected through shared talents, interests, philosophies and love for the sanctuary island; adjacent houses “born” over 40 years apart; and a custom-built “forever home” for a couple, with a focus on adaptability.

“Each home is very unique in its own way. It could have collectibles, be award-winning for its design features. It could be a remodel or brand new,” Susan Tucker, event co-chair with Joyce Ross, said. “We select them because we feel Peekers will find each one unique in itself and different from each other.”

“We try to get a mix of unusual homes that Peekers would find interesting,” she added.

PHOTO PROVIDED Exterior of the new home of Dick Fortune and Sara Lopez.

One home belongs to Charles Sobczak and Molly Heuer, Sanibel residents since 1984. Sobczak, a long-time Realtor and published author, and his wife Heuer, an avowed environmentalist, live what they advocate. Nestled in a quiet neighborhood steps from Bailey’s General Store, their 40-year-old home is packed with mementos of their travels and their principle of “Recycle, Re-use, Reclaim.”

Friends Dick Fortune and Sara Lopez, renowned photographers, built an island contemporary structure in another quiet neighborhood, nestled against and overlooking preserve land and a canal. After serving in the U.S. Coast Guard, Fortune established a floor tile business, both backgrounds richly reflected in the couple’s finished abode. Lopez was a project manager for BellSouth before she picked up a camera.

The third home is a modest single-story, transformed after a masterful top-to-toe remodel. The 1970s “Michigan” style ranch had never been updated. Globe-trotters Robert Randell and Kassie Witte wanted a ground-level abode, and they worked with their contractors to design their winter retreat – a backdrop for their art and glass collections, with the landscaping enhancing the tranquil lake view.

Next door, Laslo Csiki and Judy Csiki-Sarsby own a brand-new, three-story Mediterranean “castle.” Also seeking tranquility, in contrast to a vacation home in Orlando, they worked with their contractors to create a family-size getaway with every convenience, and decor that pays homage to their European roots and global travels. It is named “Strawberry Kastely” after the hair color of their granddaughter.

Steps from the Gulf of Mexico, the final home is a contemporary house perfect for today, but truly for the ages. In planning the home, the designer made use of Universal Design, considering future needs and accessibility standards in every aspect. The company ended up winning five Design Excellence awards from the American Society of Interior Designers in 2019 for the residence’s design.

PHOTO PROVIDED A masterful renovation, unrecognizable from the original in the Randell-Witte home.

In addition to the tour, Peekers can enjoy sweet and savory treats from island restaurants and caterers while at the Sanibel Community Church, as well as buy $10 tickets for the “Six Chances at the Unique” raffle and bid on two silent auction items – a getaway to Useppa Island and canvas-wrapped artwork.

“Throughout the day, 20 restaurants will be delivering us their signatures, their specialties,” Tucker said. “Peekers will have a chance to taste those, their signature pieces, what they are known for.”

This year’s six “Unique” raffle prizes are:

– Island Jewelry: Sealife sterling silver bracelet from Congress Jewelers, valued at $350; $200 gift certificate to Lily & Co. Jewelry Gallery; flying frog necklace charm by Gretchen Wilson; sea whisper earrings by Wendy Miller, with Heart of a Dolphin Designs.

– Island Shop and Dine: Enjoy the best of Sanibel with dinner at Cielo and Traders 2; splurge at On Island, Cedar Chest Fine Jewelry and MacIntosh Books and Paper.

PHOTO PROVIDED Mediterranean “castle” with its commanding lake view from all rear windows at Strawberry Kastely.

– Private Cooking Lesson: Learn the inside kitchen scoop with an exclusive “peek” at the 2019 tour VIP home, “House of the Drumming Monkey.”

– Sanibel by Air and Sea: Aerial tour with pilot John Bisson; pass for four for a Tarpon Bay tram tour, kayak trail tour, Nature & Sea Life cruise, breakfast or sunset cruise; “Thriller” boat ride for two.

– Whitney’s Fishing Charter: Half-day chartered trip for up to four, with box lunches by Sanibel Deli.

– Pampered in Paradise: Luxurious services including facial, HydroMassage, haircut and more with Total Look salon, Sanibel Chiropractic, Rock On, Massage Envy, Glam Girl and Massage by Triny.

“A great range of items,” she said. “And each package is valued at over $500.”

REGAN WOOD PHOTOGRAPHY The dramatic exterior of an award-winning home.

Ticket buyers do not have to be present to win.

Also at the church, island service organizations will have booths set up to provide information about what they do. Peekers are invited to bring canned donations to benefit F.I.S.H. of Sanibel-Captiva.

In an effort to be more “green,” water refill stations will be provided for Peekers.

In addition, special for this year and available to “Peekers” exclusively will be a 38-minute DVD or thumb drive featuring 300 wildlife photographs. Available for a suggested donation of $20, it has been provided by wildlife photographers Fortune and Lopez – one of this year’s homeowners for the Peek.

“It’s a beautiful keepsake,” Tucker said.

The mission of Zonta is to empower women and proceeds from the annual fundraiser go toward improving the lives of women and girls locally and around the world. In January, with monies from the 2019 Peek event, it awarded $104,700 local grants, plus a $34,900 pledge to Zonta International.

“The reason why we started the Peek at the Unique was as a fundraiser,” she said. “So that we are able to award grants to help women and girls improve their lives,” she said.

Tickets are available online through www.EventBrite.com; they are $100 each – $90 for afternoon departures, if they are still available – plus a small service fee. The donations are tax-deductible.

If there are tickets left, they will be for sale day of.

“We will welcome walk-ups on the day of the Peek for last-minute tickets,” Tucker said.

However, the public is encouraged to secure their tickets in advance in case they sell out.

“It’s the best home tour ever, and it enables us to continue with our mission of giving grants and helping to support the improvement of the lives of women and girls,” she said.

For more information about the Peek at the Unique, visit www.zontasancap.com or follow Zonta Sanibel-Captiva on Facebook or on Instagram at @zontasancap.

The Sanibel Community Church is at 1740 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel.