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StillWater offers buyers estate homes, large lots

An Odessa community has sold 25 of its 48 homesites. Home and lot packages start at $1-million.

By JANET ZINK
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 9, 2002


ODESSA -- First, there was Avila. Then came Cheval and then the Reserve at Tampa Palms.

Now, there's StillWater.

The 2-year-old Odessa community is the latest to offer estate homes on large lots in a gated neighborhood. It fills the gap left after homeowners snatched up most of the vacant lots in the other big three.

"If you're a buyer and you're coming to Tampa and you want a large lot -- north of an acre -- and you want a planned community and you want to spend $750,000 and above, you have very few places where you can do that. StillWater happens to be one of them," said Doug Lloyd, a real estate agent with Florida Executive Realty.

So far, 25 of the 48 homesites at StillWater have been sold. Ten homes have been built and are occupied. Prices on the remaining 1- to 4-acre lots start at $200,000, with a 2.5-acre lot on a ski lake going for $750,000. One family bought two 3.5-acre lots so they could build their house on a 7-acre site. Home and lot packages start at $1-million.

Homeowners can choose from four builders: Alvarez Homes, Bayfair Custom Homes, the Fechtel Co. and Cambridge HomeBuilders. The minimum size home is 3,800 square feet, and architectural guidelines require that every home feature classical architecture but a distinct look.

No two houses in the community will look the same, said StillWater marketing director Joyce Schaffer. Current homes range from Mediterranean to traditional brick.

In addition to a manned gatehouse, the community offers a clubhouse with a tennis court, pool and playground.

StillWater is the vision of M.L. Development, headed by Steve Luttrell, and Jay Fechtel, who owns the Fechtel Co.

"We wanted to do something that was architecturally very pretty," Fechtel said. "Where the architectural aspects of the community -- the entrance, roads, landscaping -- were reminiscent of timeless building styles and principles.

"The second part of the vision was trying to work with the land, to take what the land gave us and take advantage of the beauty of it, to work with existing oaks. There are three lakes bordering StillWater, so we made the roads so that those lakes could be enjoyed not just by the homeowners but also by the people who drive through the community."

Luttrell and Fechtel also partnered on Turnbury Woods, a small community in Tampa Palms that consists of only five home sites, the last of which was sold last month.

The 50-acre property was zoned for 15 to 17 homes, but the developers opted to create only five lots that range in size from 6 to 15 acres.

Fechtel said he grew up in Leesburg in a home on a 7-acre lot surrounded by Florida hammock and by orange groves. When Fechtel walked on the properties that would become StillWater and Turnbury Woods, he saw possibilities for people who wanted access to urban conveniences but wanted plenty of land and privacy.

Some of the lots at StillWater are completely wooded. Nine are on a ski lake, and four are on a fishing lake.

Lloyd said it is possible to find even larger lots in equestrian communities, and in the very rural parts of Odessa, around some of the lakes in the Keystone area and in southern Hillsborough County. But those areas tend to be inconsistent, he said.

"You may have a house next door, and you have a cabin that's been sitting there for 50 years," Lloyd said.

"That's why you have a property like StillWater, where you have large acreage tracts in a community. Where you have consistency to it as opposed to the hit-and-miss nature of the rural areas.

"You can get the large lots and the space that goes with it, and you can get a community, where you have deed restrictions, unified features. It feels like a neighborhood. There are not a whole lot of places where that's available."

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