DEAR MR. MYERS: My favorite show is “Fixer Upper” on the HGTV cable network. Is there any truth to the rumors that the hosts are planning to end it?
ANSWER: “Fixer Upper” is one of my favorite TV shows, too, so I’m sad to report that the married couple who have hosted it for the past several years – design expert Joanna Gaines and her remodeling-pro husband, Chip – recently announced that this season will be their last.
The show first aired in May 2013. It quickly catapulted the likeable duo from a small construction-and-design team based in Waco, Texas, to international celebrity.
The show also helped them build what is now a vast real-estate-related empire. The couple’s hugely successful retail complex in their hometown opened in late 2015, and it already draws 40,000 visitors a week. The Gaineses also have their own furniture, paint, wallpaper and rug lines, as well as a quarterly magazine and a soon-to-be-open restaurant.
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The couple’s first book hit The New York Times best seller list last fall. Chip Gaines and veteran journalist Mark Dagostino have since teamed up to pen “Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff,” which was released on Oct. 17.
The couple said that ending the show will allow them to focus on their ever-expanding business portfolio. But they also stressed that they never wanted their four kids, ages 7 to 12, to grow up in the media’s spotlight: “They’re so young, and we want to give them the chance to have a normal childhood,” Joanna Gaines said.
REAL ESTATE TRIVIA: A recent report by CelebrityNetWorth.com pegs the Gaineses’ joint net worth at $16 million. It estimates that Jonathan and Drew Scott, the twins who host HGTV’s “Property Brothers,” are worth a combined $20 million.
DEAR MR. MYERS: Is it true that Jimmy Buffett, my favorite singer of all time, is going to build a huge real estate development in Florida?
ANSWER: It sure is. The 70-year-old entertainer, famous for his 1977 hit “Margaritaville,” recently began marketing not one but two retirement developments. One is just getting started in Daytona Beach, Florida, and the other will be placed in the resort mecca of Hilton Head, South Carolina.
The Florida project may be the most ambitious of the two. A $750 million joint venture with Canadian builder Minto Communities, it’s geared toward people aged 55 and older – many of whom still were too young to drive when Buffet released his breakthrough recording.
In addition to about 7,000 homes, Latitude Margaritaville will include 300 timeshare units, a 187-room hotel, and lots of space for retail stores and restaurants. Other amenities will include swimming pools, a swimmable lagoon and water slides. More than 100,000 people have already requested regular updates on the development, a Minto Communities representative said, even though the first homes won’t be available until a year from now.
Buffett’s company, Margaritaville Holdings, also is teaming with Minto to build an upscale, 132-home development on a private island in Bradenton, Florida.
DEAR MR. MYERS: I saw a brief report on TV that said there’s an estate for sale in France for the American equivalent of about $410 million. Would that be a record if it sells for its listing price?
ANSWER: Yes. Called Villa Les Cedres (French for “the Cedars Villa”), the 187-year-old, 18,000-square-foot home has 14 bedrooms and sits on 35 acres that some believe is the finest location on the picturesque coast of Southern France. Once owned by Belgian King Leopold II in the early 1900s, it currently belongs to alcohol-beverage giant Campari.
The land itself is covered by a staggering 14,000 different species of plants, many of them extremely rare. The estate’s chief gardener says that about one-third of those plants can be found in the home’s massive open garden, while the remainder are scattered about in the property’s 25 greenhouses.
The mansion’s wood-paneled library, not far from a 12-foot-tall stone fireplace, holds 3,000 books on flora and naturalism – some of which are centuries old and worth thousands or even millions of dollars.
The books apparently are not offered as part of the mansion’s sale price, though it’s assumed that the property’s eventual buyer may be able to purchase the collection for a few million bucks more.
David W. Myers’ column is distributed by Cowles Syndicate Inc.