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Townhouses catch on with home buyers

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Builders launch two townhome projects and an apartment complex to meet demand. By LORRI HELFAND Published December 22, 2003

LARGO – The trend to multifamily living, such as townhouses and apartments, is gaining momentum in Pinellas’s third-largest city.

Two townhome projects, each with more than 100 units, are under way on Starkey and Ulmerton roads.

Downtown, the 54 townhomes in the West Bay Village complex, anticipated for their new urbanism flavor and the urban renewal they might inspire, are nearing completion.

And in the northern sector, 180 apartments will be built next year near Ponce de Leon and Clearwater-Largo Road.

It’s a pattern of new home construction seen throughout Pinellas. With few pieces of easy-to-develop land remaining in Largo, many builders are erecting townhomes and apartments rather than single-family homes, said Largo’s Community Development Director Mike Staffopoulos.

Townhomes also seem to be popular for residents wanting to break out of apartment living.

“A lot of people renting apartments don’t want to be renting anymore,” said Mary Latuszek, a representative at the 112-unit Seminole Palms townhomes project being built by Atlanta-based Beazer Homes.

That’s one reason Jaime and Brenda Castro moved there. They were looking for an investment without having to pay much more than they did as a renters.

At Seminole Palms, which is off Starkey Road, two- and three-bedroom homes cost about $122,000 and $141,000 before upgrades.

“We were looking for houses in a budget range of what they have here,” said Castro, 29, who works in airport security.

About 70 units have been sold at Seminole Palms. Beazer has completed about 16. More than 60 are in construction.

The units will have 1,205 and 1,607 square feet, 21/2 baths, vaulted ceilings and will be wired for security systems.

Around the corner, on the south side of Ulmerton Road, is the Cumberland Trace townhomes project bring built by Minneapolis-based Rottlund Homes.

Rottlund Homes broke ground on the 126-unit development two months ago. Sixteen homes are being built now. By spring, the first units should be completed.

The two-bedroom, 11/2 bath units, range from about $126,000 to $130,000 and feature lofts, one-car garages and security systems. Thirty four have been sold, according to Bud Levell, representative for Cumberland Trace. Buyers “have been across the board,” he said. “Some people from up North who want a summer home, and some young professionals.”

Cumberland Trace and Seminole Palms each will have a swimming pool and cabana room.

In February, the Richman Group of Florida plans to break ground on the apartment complex along the Clearwater-Largo Road corridor.

The new construction has caught the attention of city leaders, some of whom predict a spike in Largo’s population, which is just less than 75,000.

“The area is on fire,” said City Commissioner Charlie Harper. “It’s growing by leaps and bounds. I fully expect to be at 80,000 in a couple of years.”


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