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A little of Palm Beach in Tampa

© St. Petersburg Times
published April 26, 2002

A PIECE OF PALM BEACH: People are talking about New Floresta, a collection of 31 custom homes under construction on Lake Magdalene Boulevard in North Tampa. Bayfair Properties broke ground on the community in October, and so far, 11 of the 31 homes have been sold. Three homes are occupied, and seven more are under construction.

The community is named New Floresta in honor of the Floresta development in Palm Beach, which boasts the Spanish Revival designs of world-famous architect Addison Mizner, who left his mark on Palm Beach -- and Florida -- in the 1920s. Last year, Mizner was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame. (Who knew we had one?)

The custom homes at New Floresta have barrel tile roofs, wrought iron and brick accents, lots of arched windows, wood garage doors and columns framing the doorways. The 3,000- to-4,000-square-foot homes start at $400,000.

Bob Gagne, an agent with Florida Executive Realty, says his clients love what they see at New Floresta -- beautifully proportioned floor plans and better-than-average finishes.

Bayfair's Mike Morris attributes the community's success to its small size.

"It's easy to find a large gated community . . . that has a giant clubhouse," Morris says. "It's more rare to find a relatively small community where you can get to know everybody and that's gated."

GUILTY PLEASURES: Here's a fun thing to do in your spare time. Log onto the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser Web site and find out how much your friends and favorite Tampa celebrities paid for their houses. The address is Click on Search Our Real Estate or Tangible Personal Property Database.

GET DOWN: If you're looking to buy a house but don't have enough cash for a down payment, there are programs to help. Some sellers provide assistance with down payments by donating about 4 percent of the sale price (the 3 percent typically required for a down payment plus a processing fee) to a charity, which then gifts the down payment to the buyer.

"Those are nice programs for homes that are held by an investor or estate," says David Presnell, assistant vice president of Ashford Mortgage. "They like them because they can move the house quickly and can advertise it as a no-down-payment house."

Hillsborough County also offers a down payment assistance program for first-time home buyers. The level of support is based on the home buyer's household income and the number of dependents.

-- Write to Janet Zink in care of the St. Petersburg Times at 1000 N. Ashley Drive, Suite 700, Tampa, FL 33602; or by e-mail,

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