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Monday, October 30, 2006

$400 million live-work development shapes up, pending zoning change. Tampa, Fl

TAMPA --Tampa Bay Business Journal - October 27, 2006 by Alexis Muellner, Editor

An expansive, 10-phase, mixed-use development is set to come together next year in the Westshore Business District.

Lindell Properties snapped up the former JP Morgan headquarters last year and has $28 million in the deal already. Over time, construction costs could reach $400 million on the site.

What was originally nine of 27 holes on the Rocky Point Golf Course became a one-tenant industrial park and now could morph into a new jewel for the city's tax base to include many small businesses, a structured garage, residences, ponds and green space. There could even workplaces employees could walk to from home, said Lindell Properties CEO Ron Weisser.

The City Council was scheduled to vote on a land use change late on Oct. 26 that would turn a purely office and industrial use to "CMU-35" to allow hotel and residences. (Monitor the newspaper's Web site, tampabay.bizjournals.com, for updates on the vote.) If approved, the change would need a second reading.

At deadline Wednesday, the developers were cautiously optimistic.

"After six months of knocking on doors and meeting with staff and hiring experts and talking to fellow developers and doing everything we could possibly do, we have broad support and no opposition," said Carl Lindell, principal.

Not your father's office park
The site has its original Development of Regional Impact, the standard development rights process that dictates concurrency thresholds for traffic and density, in place.

"Back then, all they had were these giant office parks, and you'll notice around the country that these are now going mixed-use and cities are discovering that if people can live where they work, there's an advantage," Weisser said.

The 44-acre site bounded is on the north by Memorial Highway and on the west by Independence Parkway.

"One of the most significant things for us and the city is that there's $250 million road program where the Veterans (Expressway) meets I-275 and the airport and Highway 60 to Clearwater and we're right there," Weisser said.

The property's existing structure is a 125,000-square-foot office building that housed a Johnson & Johnson unit originally. JPMorgan Chase bought the building and occupied it until just a few weeks ago, Weisser said.

In January 2005, the company announced plans to lay off 1,900 people in Tampa Bay.

Lindell Properties plans to renovate and retrofit the single tenant building for multi-tenants and add structured parking on the current surface lot.

The property is 25 percent ponds and 25 percent green spaces, and the plan is to reconfigure the ponds and wrap the buildings around them, Weisser said.

Lending partner
Wachovia Bank (NYSE: WAC) helped finance the sale of the property and will continue to lend on the project.

The bank has a comfort level with the project based on the developer's track record of landing prime sites, developing successful projects and land entitlement, said Ted Starkey, the bank's Florida real estate manager.

"When this opportunity on the site came up, we helped them take down the site and are a big fan of the location," Starkey said. "It's hard to find an infill location of this size with the potential density you can put there and create a unique live-work environment."

The Evans Group in Orlando, which has experience in infill urban projects, is the architect. Grady Pridgen Inc., a St. Petersburg-based developer, is a minority partner.

Despite 10 phases, the whole site including sewer lines, ponds and drainage will develop at once. There could be six to 10 buildings, all master planned, added over time.

The current DRI has certain maximums: 1,100 residential units; 650,000 square feet of office; 250 hotel units and 100,000 square feet of retail.

"We'll probably have 1,000 dwellings and 30,000 feet of retail, and that'll all blended together and won't hit the maximums," Weisser said. "These are all trade-offs. We never will exceed the traffic to the site if it was only office."

Intuitive vision
Strangely, the location has been one of the most overlooked, said Ron Rotella, executive director of the Westshore Alliance.

"They were very intuitive to look at that property," Rotella said. "If you look at the Westshore Business District, it's no longer a commercial office market, it's a regional activity center and has mixed use spaces, dining and restaurants to fit any budget -- and adding residential cuts down those commute trips on the highways," he said.

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Million-dollar St. Pete townhome plan betting on Old Northeast allure

Tampa Bay Business Journal - October 27, 2006
by Michael Hinman
Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG -- J Square Realty Associates is working with Samter Homes to develop five $1 million townhomes on the corner of Beach Drive and 11th Avenue North to be called Merecido.

The project is being proposed just ahead of zoning changes coming in March, but the developers behind the five-unit building in the midst of Historic Old Northeast say they are not looking to stand out.
The tri-level units will be 3,000 square feet and will utilize an architectural style that pays homage to the homes predating the 1960s that surround it.

"There's a lot of 1950s and 1960s vintage condominiums on this section of Beach Drive, but no one has built anything new there in a long time," said Jay Miller, president of J Square Realty. "It has a little bit more of a residential ambiance for those who are attracted to the historic charm of the Old Northeast." Hedging bets.

The developers have yet to put a price tag on the construction of the property but feel they can sell each unit for a little more than $1 million. That would be a significant change over the single-level rental units now on the site that Samter President Peter Bennett said were renting for $300 to $500 a month.

With new condominium sales continuing to drop in the region, it is risky trying to build in a climate that has been favoring buyers over sellers, Bennett said. But he believes absorption of existing inventory will be more rapid than some think.

"I lose a lot of sleep over it, but I have to believe the fact that all of the studies are saying people are moving to Florida and that they are going to need houses," Bennett said. "The marketplace is just going to be back to what it used to be a few years ago before it was inflated by investors."
Samter is hedging its bets on a few other multifamily projects as well, including the mostly complete 175-unit Villas of Carillon in North Pinellas County, a $70 million project offering 2,000-square-foot units beginning at $400,000. Samter also is getting ready to start a 52-unit project on the Anclote River near New Port Richey, also expected to sell at about $400,000 a unit.

"People aren't interested in projects that will be done 10 or 12 months down the road," Bennett said. "They want product that is going to be ready 30 days out. It's back to if you build it, you hope they come."

Staying consistent Samter and J Square are expecting to pre-sell two Beach Drive units and then market the others when the structure is finished in spring 2008.

With a lot of the St. Petersburg market is completely built out, more and more infill projects are popping up, especially in what is considered to be historic neighborhoods, said Susan Ajoc, St. Petersburg's Neighborhood Partnership director. Because of that, the city council is trying to concentrate more on maintaining the character of its neighborhoods through new zoning regulations set to be put in place by next March.
"We don't have a lot of vacant land, and we have quite a number of houses that have been in existence for a long period of time," Ajoc said. "What we want to do is make sure that what is being built is compatible with the rest of the neighborhood. The intent is to add some language to our zoning code to protect the character of our neighborhoods."

Old Northeast
The Historic Old Northeast Neighborhood, one of the oldest neighborhoods in St. Petersburg, was first built in 1911. It overlooks Tampa Bay and is home to some 9,000 people living in a mixture of home styles that range from old Mediterranean to bungalow. It's located between Fourth Street North to the bay between Fifth and 30th avenues north.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Six Ten Franklin and Downtown Developments-Tampa, FL

So what's going on with Six Ten Franklin Condos? Well they have a big sign up and a website but no one has said anything about when they will be ready to start writing contracts. When you go to the website you have to provide all your information, but they give little. "Starting in the 200's" I believe is what they say.


Friday, October 13, 2006

Real Estate Market Downturn Nearing End? Tampa, Fl

Real Estate Market Downturn Nearing End?

The increase in unsold listings was this cycle's early warning indicator, the economist points out. And a decline will be the sign that the market is rebalancing itself. Real estate consultant, John Burns, says "The supply problem will be resolved when the market returns to 2.5 months of supply in the resale market, and only a few standing units of inventory in a typical new home subdivision," he says. In a sales meeting yesterday, speaker Patrick Ferry told us that the Tampa Bay Area has a 8-10 month supply of homes on the market.

The correction "could take years" in outlying areas. In built-out markets such as San Diego, over-supply is "likely to correct earlier" than in sprawling markets like Phoenix. But economic growth will "play a huge role as well," and help many markets recover sooner.

Home builders have already corrected for their share of the over-supply. During the boom years, builders overbuilt the market on a national basis by about 15 percent, he wrote. Last year's construction pace was at about 2.3 million units, but the rate has already slowed to 1.8 million, which is less than the 1.9 million to 2.1 million units a year that are needed to satisfy the demographics of the housing market.

The housing economist told his clients to worry more about the location and price of the oversupply than the overall number itself. The Nation's Capital is one example where location and price matter more. In the Washington metro area, a healthy ratio of 2.2 jobs were created for every new housing start. Unfortunately, most of the development is occurring outside the market's main employment centers. And D.C. is not alone. In Phoenix, the largest number of resale houses on the market are on the outskirts of town, which is exactly where home builders are most active. And construction in Tampa, Orlando and Sacramento, to name just a few places, is most active far away from where the jobs are.

The investment leg of the stool is the wild card. Demand is strong, just not at current prices, he says. "Affordability is an issue in the major markets, but not everywhere."

On the other hand, consumer confidence is strong. In fact, it hasn't been an issue, at least not like it has been in previous down cycles, largely because most folks are secure in their jobs, the housing consultant says.

But speculators remain a bugaboo. At the height of the market, Burns says, "an unprecedented level of investors created 40 percent more sales activity" than should normally have been created. Now, we have to wait and see how they will react. Will they hold until the market turns more favorable, or will they panic and sell at any price just to be over and done with it?

As in politics, all housing markets are local. But if you are watching the national numbers, Burns concludes that 5.6 million total sales -- both new and used -- is indicative of a normal level of demand.

In June 2005, the annual rate reached 8.5 million. But it has already slowed to 7.3 million. Unfortunately, he believes the market will need to over-correct to below the 5.6 million benchmark because of affordability problems and the huge number of investors before it can right itself and begin heading north again.

If you are thinking of selling your home you can visit http://www.tampabaydwellings.com and receive a free home market analysis.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Insider Real Estate Blog named top 500 blogs to watch!, Tampa Fl

I couldn't have said it better myself! Our very own blog has been included in the top 500 Real Estate Blogs to watch by Pittsburgh Homes Daily. With over 55.9 million blogs online and more than 75,000 new blogs being created every day, being tagged as one of the top 500 in the real estate niche is very encouraging.