Bell Acres estate has a gym, racquetball court and so much more – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

When Heidi and Rick Zomnir asked their friend Frank Madia if he could build them a house with a racquetball court, he had a better idea.

“He told us where one was already built. It was exactly what we were looking for,” said Mr. Zomnir.

The 22,000-square-foot house at 141 Beech Ridge Drive in Bell Acres had not only a 40-by-20-foot racquetball court, but also a 54- by-40-foot half-court gymnasium, in-ground pool, five bedrooms, five full bathrooms, four powder rooms and much more. The Zomnirs’ two children, in sixth and eighth grades in 2004, were delighted. So were their parents.

“We fell in love it with it,” Mr. Zomnir said.

Now their children are grown, so the couple have placed the home on the market for $5.75 million (MLS No. 1218139) with Kathy Barge of Howard Hanna Real Estate ( or 412-741-2201, ext. 238). It is open by appointment.

The house was built by Ed Cress Builder in 1998 on an 8-acre wooded lot with a gated drive. The two-story entry measures 28 by 13 feet and features warm hardwood floors and trim.

The 20-by-21-foot living room has dentil crown molding, a gas-burning fireplace and large windows with views of Sewickley Heights Golf Club. On the other side of the entry is a 20-by-26-foot dining room that can easily seat 20 for dinner. Two crystal chandeliers throw patterns of light on the plaster molding, tray ceiling, judge’s paneling and Federal-style fireplace mantel with polished stone surround.

Although the kitchen was only 6 years old, it was not to the Zomnirs’ taste, so they renovated, removing a wall to take advantage of the views.

“My wife likes Asian transitional design,” he said. “It goes very well with the rest of the house.”

The new 19-by-19-foot kitchen was designed by Joyce Cessar of Cuvee Kitchen Designs. It boasts Rutt HandCrafted cabinetry, Carrara marble counters, a Wolf six-burner gas cooktop, a Sub-Zero panel-front refrigerator, two Miele dishwashers and warming drawers. There are also two built-in pantries, a separate bar and beverage center and two prep sinks. A pair of wall ovens are set in a stone accent wall.

The dining areas measure 20 by 10 feet and 14 by 14 feet. The breakfast room is set against a curved wall of glass that offers a view of the valley below. Part of the property’s rear acreage is on a hill, ensuring that no other homes will ever obstruct that view. Next door is the even larger house built by Joseph Nocito Sr.

French doors open from the kitchen to a screened-in porch and an adjacent wrap-around balcony. A surround sound stereo system with Bose speakers can be heard in many rooms.

The 16-by-16-foot formal study features oak built-in bookcases and paneling that complement the coffered ceiling. A concealed spiral staircase leads to the lower level. French doors lead to a curving porch with more views of the golf course. There is also a separate 18-by-10-foot office.

The first floor also contains a formal billiards room and a meditation room with a vaulted ceiling, three walls of windows and a large statue of Buddha. All three levels of the house have laundries.

The upper level features three bedrooms ranging in size from 14 by 12 feet to 19 by 13 feet. Each has its own jetted tub, walk-in shower and bench seating.

The master suite includes a 23-by-16-foot bedroom with a wall of windows overlooking the backyard and a sitting room with a stone fireplace with a limestone hearth and reclaimed wood mantel. The master spa has a jetted tub big enough for two, mirrored walls, oak paneling, surround sound and other spa amenities. It’s attached to a master bath with a polished stone tile floor, separate vanity sinks, separate commodes (one with a bidet), multispray shower, towel warmers and large linen closet.

His and her closets have custom shelving and neutral carpeting; a second sitting room has a wet bar and refrigerator. It opens to a covered private balcony with an outdoor fireplace.

Another library on the upper level has built-in bookshelves, a chandelier and an arched window. A staircase accesses an observation deck with a 360-degree view of the property.

A second bedroom suite has an office/sitting room with a spa bathroom and a weight and exercise room that could be converted into another bedroom suite. A large window overlooks the gymnasium below.

The half-court gym has sprung-wood flooring and padded walls and the racquetball court can be adjusted for squash. There is also a fitness center and locker room with a dry sauna, juice bar and wet bar.

“The former homeowner used to train professional boxers. They had a complete hotel-style setup down there,” Mr. Zomnir said.

The lower level also includes a caterer’s kitchen with professional-quality appliances from Sub-Zero, Viking and Garland. The wine cellar features a barrel ceiling, furniture from Napa Valley and stucco and limestone walls and accents for an authentic feel.

“Funny thing is my wife and I don’t really drink wine!” he said. “We let the kids use that space when they visit.”

Up to 12 visitors can enjoy the new theater room with lounge seating and a 110-inch-wide screen. Glass doors lead outside to the 60-by-30-foot saltwater pool, stone waterfall and outdoor fireplace. Mr. Zomnir fondly recalled many nights making s’mores with family and friends.

“It is a great place for entertaining. The house has a real nice flow to it. People are surprised at how comfortable it is to be there.”

Bell Acres at a glance


Inside out: Nestled in the floodplains of Big and Little Sewickley creeks, Bell Acres was part of the 300 acres that Frederick Merriman purchased when he settled the area in 1808. The 5.4-acre borough was part of Sewickley until its creation in 1960.

The land’s rural nature changed with the railroads’ arrival near Turkey Foot and Sevin roads, where Sevin Lumber Co. is today. Residents enjoy Bell Acres Municipal Park, with more than 200 acres of rolling hills for hiking and birdwatching. Shopping is charming, especially in the nearby Village of Sewickley.

Schools: Quaker Valley School District ( All four schools in the district have been selected for National Blue Ribbon of Excellence awards. 2

Enrollment: 1,878

Average SAT scores: Reading, 553; Math, 572; Writing, 545 (Quaker Valley High School)

Annual taxes for a property assessed at $100,000: $3,726.50. (Median property value is $140,500)

Borough: $432(4.32 mills)

School: $1,732 (17.32 mills)

Allegheny County: $388 (4.73 mills)*

Earned income tax: 1 percent

* includes the Act 50 Homestead Exclusion, which reduces the assessed value of a primary residence by $18,000.

— Rosa Colucci, Post-Gazette

Rosa Colucci: or Twitter, PgRosa_Colucci.



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