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Post-football career full of good runs for builder

Former Buc Charley Hannah's company is one of the top builders in the county and has received local awards.

By JANET ZINK
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 13, 2002


With football season upon us, it seems appropriate to talk a bit about Hannah Bartoletta Homes.

Why?

The Hannah in Hannah Bartoletta is Charley Hannah, who played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1977 to 1982 and the Los Angeles Raiders from 1983 to 1988. He earned a Super Bowl ring in the 1983-84 season with the Raiders, the winning team in the first Super Bowl ever played in Tampa. Now, Hannah has scored in his second career.

Hannah Bartoletta is one of Hillsborough County's top home builders, offering production and custom homes starting at about $400,000.

Hannah founded Hannah Bartoletta Homes with Mike Bartoletta in 1988, a time when the real estate industry was in a severe depression. But Hannah was determined to make the business work.

"We were anxious to do things that no one else wanted to do," Hannah said.

He and Bartoletta were among the first builders in Tampa Palms.

"Everyone was running from the master-planned communities," he said.

Some were having trouble getting off the ground.

But he and Bartoletta couldn't resist.

For a few years in the early '90s, Hannah Bartoletta was the No. 1 buyer of property in Tampa Palms. As a result, the company was invited to build in Hunter's Green, Westchase and Cheval.

Today, Hannah Bartoletta builds Hillsborough homes mostly in Cheval, Lakes of Wellington and Tampa Palms in North Tampa, Tree Tops in Western Hillsborough County, and FishHawk Ranch in Brandon. The company is also building in Sunset Lakes and Wilderness Lake Preserve in fast-growing southern Pasco County.

The Builders Association of Greater Tampa named Charley Hannah Builder of the Year in 1993. Mike Bartoletta received the honor in 1994 and again in 2002. This year's award marks the first time two members of the same firm were named Builder of the Year three times.

The company is in the middle of renovating and adding 1,000 square feet to its North Tampa headquarters.

Hannah said the business has been successful because he and Bartoletta bring complementary skills to the table. Bartoletta, he said, is an engineer who designs homes that are beautiful but affordable. Hannah has a marketing degree from the University of South Florida and spearheads the business end of the company's efforts.

Hannah's football career began when he was in high school at Baylor Preparatory School in Chattanooga, Tenn. He played football at the University of Alabama and then was drafted by the Buccaneers in 1977. When he was traded to the Los Angeles Raiders in 1988, Hannah kept his residence in Tampa because Los Angeles was too big for a country boy from North Georgia, he said.

"It was an adjustment for me to live in a town as big as Tampa," Hannah said. "I never enjoyed the crowds of LA."

The Hannah family has football in its blood. Hannah's father, Herb, played for the New York Giants, and his brother, John, played for the New England Patriots and was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame.

Hannah said he chose home-building as his post-football career because he wanted to do something that would allow him to regularly see projects through from beginning to end.

"When you're playing football, you get weekly updates on your status and at the end of the year you see how you did as a whole," Hannah said.

Building houses, he said, is similar. You watch a house go up and see a finished product at the end of the cycle. These days, Hannah doesn't have time to visit home sites daily, but he supervises the development of entire subdivisions, such as Lancaster at Tampa Palms.

The ultimate reward, Hannah said, is hearing from homeowners who are able to command a high price when they sell a Hannah Bartoletta home.

"It gives you a real sense of pride," he said.

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