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Spring Hill : Development News

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Surban trend: Affordable homes for millennials who don't mind the commute

In an era in which many potential homebuyers may feel priced out of the downtown and first tier suburbs, homebuilders in the Tampa Bay Area offer affordably priced homes within 20-to-35 miles of Tampa.

First-time homebuyers, millennials and GenXers, are gravitating toward housing developments that offer a surban (suburban+urban) living experience (think West Chase) close to major traffic arteries like Interstate 75, U.S. Highway 301 or U.S. Highway 41.

“They want a nice home,” says Sean Strickler, Division President of PulteGroup’s West Florida Division, which caters to first-time buyers through its Centex brand. “They are a little bit more willing to sacrifice commute time to ensure that they find a home that meets their budget.”

Wesley Chapel has been a popular area. “Pinellas is pretty much built out,” Strickler says. “We are looking to expand our footprint into Polk. As land prices continue to rise, we need to consider areas that are a little bit further out but still are along major thoroughfares.”

Pulte has secured 104 acres for a new Westbridge community in Wesley Chapel, which will feature 350 single-family homes priced in the mid- to high-$200,000s. “It’s a great location, but price-wise it’s still going to be very affordable.”

Situated on Wells Road across from Wesley Chapel Elementary School, Weightman Middle School and Wesley Chapel High School, the community offers easy access to Interstates 75 and 275, State Road 54, the 140-acre Wesley Chapel District Park, and shopping at Wiregrass and Premium Outlet Mall.

Groundbreaking is planned in late summer or fall, with construction on models beginning in early 2019.

“We’ll have our first new homeowners in the second part of 2019,” he says.

Wesley Chapel has been attractive because of the small town feel, parks and open spaces. “People like that it’s north of the 275-75 split,” he says. “Families are really drawn to it, simply because of the good schools.”

Those with deeper pockets are being attracted to the Wesley Chapel area Epperson, a master-planned community of 1,500 homes which is part of “The Connected City” especially built on a fiber network allowing gigabit Internet speeds. It also features the country’s first Crystal Lagoon, a 7.5-acre lagoon using a patented purifying and clarifying technology.

Several builders are involved along with Pulte, which is finishing land development for the second phase. “It’s a very, very popular community right now,” he says. “The lagoon is drawing such excitement.”

Another affordable community in development north of Tampa is Talavera in Hudson, off U.S. 41 and State Road 52. The company is pricing its 100 homes in the 700-home community in low $200,000s. “We’re actually decorating our models,” he says.

The other builder is MI Homes.

“The home sites up there are very large,” he says. “You definitely get more property with your home.”

For those who want a new home closer in, there also are infill developments. A 140-unit townhome community in Mango will be priced from the mid-$100,000s for 1,500 square feet. Pre-sales have begun at Rego Palms off of Williams Road north of Martin Luther King Boulevard, and the first move-ins are anticipated early this summer.

With a median home price of $207,000, Tampa Bay was listed third among 14 top sites in the nation where people can purchase a house on a $50,000-a-year salary. In an article published at Thrillist Travel online in summer 2017, Tampa was listed after Lexington, KY, and Boise, ID.

“Tampa has always been a more affordable geography than say for instance Chicago or Seattle, where land is much more difficult to come by,” Strickler says. “You have that opportunity to serve the buyers, particularly with interest rates as low as they are.”


TBARTA Asks Tampa Bay Residents To Help Plan For Future

Beginning Thursday, April 14, residents in the seven counties that comprise the Tampa Bay region will be able to participate in shaping the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority's (TBARTA) master plan, the update of which will include the addition of freight and road networks, airports and seaports as well as the impact of new federal air quality regulations.

Residents of Pinellas, Hillsborough, Citrus, Sarasota, Manatee, Pasco and Hernando counties will be able to participate in six telephone "Town Hall" meetings by dialing a toll-free number that will be posted online at www.tbarta.com. The dates are as follow:

Thursday, April 14 - Sarasota County
Tuesday, April 19 - Hillsborough County
Thursday, April 21 - Pasco County
Monday, April 25 - Citrus and Hernando counties
Tuesday, April 26 - Manatee County
Wednesday, April 27 - Pinellas County

TBARTA spokesperson Amy Ellis cautions that the expanded plans will not overhaul what is already in place.

"With the master plan update, we are not 'recreating the wheel,' " says Ellis. "What we are doing is bringing all of the plans in the region together in one place. This way, we can ensure that all areas are covered and we can more easily identify the most important priorities. This includes the transit network, the roadways, freight network, airports and seaports.

"It isn't necessarily an expansion of these facilities, although there are some projects underway or in the works. The I-4 Connector, for example, is under construction and will connect the Port of Tampa to I-4, making it much easier for trucks carrying freight to travel to and from the Port. A similar project has been identified as needed in the Manatee area -- a better roadway connection to Port Manatee."

Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Source: Amy Ellis, Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority

Complexities Of Amendment 4 Challenge Florida Voters

The choice between Alex Sink and Rick Scott for Florida's next governor is a simple decision -- albeit one with huge potential ramifications -- compared to sorting through the proposed constitutional amendments and local referenda.

Among the most complex decisions voters face on November 2: Yay or nay on Amendment 4, which proposes that any plan that affects growth and development must receive voter approval before proceeding. In order to pass, the amendment needs at least 60 percent of the total vote.

Proponents contend it will place more control over how communities develop in the hands of voters. Opponents warn that passage would mean a considerably slowed process for new land use and building projects at a time when Florida's economy needs such investments to get moving again.

"It's probably the most complicated of the amendments," says Tom Arthur, news information director for the Collins Center of Public Policy. "It's basically going to give the public final say on the growth opportunities of their communities. There is some thought out there that local governments -- and builders in particular -- have the power to make the changes they want whether the public is with those changes or not. This measure gives people a say.

"The opponents argue it's the wrong solution," continues Arthur. "That it's a flawed proposal that will lead to a multitude of referendums that will be difficult to understand, make chaos of the ballot and delay development."

Arthur says that while there is no definitive way to know what the consequences will be of either the amendment passing or not passing, there will most likely be further debate if the amendment does pass.

"When it's all said and done, there will probably be some legal issues. Is there a study that says what the consequences will be? No. It's impossible to know what consequences will be for any referendum placed on the ballot and the delays it would cause. But we do know that there are many, many layers to this one."

Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Source: Tom Arthur, Collins Center of Public Policy



One Bay, One Vision: Mega-Meeting To Connect Tampa Bay Leaders

On April 16, leaders from across Tampa Bay will meet to discuss sustainable growth. One Bay, the group hosting the meeting, has deemed the event the Congress of Regional Leaders.

The One Bay Liveable Communities Initiative is a "regional visional process" that grew from the Tampa Bay Partnership Regional Research and Education Foundation. It is committed to long-term thinking and planning to make the seven counties that comprise the Tampa Bay region a thriving and sustainable mega region by the year 2050. The counties included in the initiative are Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Polk, Manatee and Sarasota.

The April 16 meeting is a culmination of polls, surveys and workshops that resulted from the Reality Check of 2007. The data collected indicates a need and desire for a more proactive and deliberate approach to planning.

"When we looked at the data, it was interesting because there were common guiding principles across transit, water and environmental areas," explains Betty Carlin, a spokesperson for the Tampa Bay Partnership. "It's telling us these are the things that people think are important. People really don't want to see growth happen as it has in the past. We want to do it differently. So now we have to put community leaders together to share the vision and make it happen."

Dan Mahurin, chairman of SunTrust Bank and chair of One Bay, sees the meeting as a celebrated outcome as well as an exciting launch.

"This event is a celebration of several years of great input and hard work from across the community to develop a shared vision for Tampa Bay. It is also a turning point for us to bring leaders back together to begin planning how we can implement this vision."

The meeting will take place at the Tampa Convention Center from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Source: Betty Carlin, Tampa Bay Partnership; Dan Mahurin, SunTrust
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