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For now, bubble remains

By JANET ZINK
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 11, 2002


DON'T BURST MY BUBBLE: The cautious are starting to wonder when the real estate boom will bust. Marvin Rose, owner of Rose Residential Reports, which analyzes home building data in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties, says don't worry.

Even though employment is stagnant, he says, low interest rates are keeping the bubble intact.

"The Hillsborough County new residential market shows signs of leveling off," he writes in his most recent report. "And what a nice level it is."

Although permit activity is up less than 1 percent, closings were up 16 percent during the first seven months of 2002, he says.

The most activity was in Pasco County, just over the Hillsborough County line. Meadow Pointe had 264 closings and Lexington Oaks reached 231. Fish Hawk Ranch in south Hillsborough County was third with 222 closings and Harbour Island followed with 190.

Sales at Harbour Island were driven by the conversion of Island Walk from apartments to condominiums. There have been 140 closings in that community so far this year.

* * *

AYE AYE: MiraBay has hired Capt. Bill Click as the Outfitter. He'll coordinate boating and aquatic activities at this 750-acre waterfront community in southern Hillsborough County.

As the Outfitter, Click will set up motor boat and sailboat instruction, boating-safety courses, fishing-trip charters and canoe rentals.

Working with local law-enforcement agencies, he plans to teach residents about no-wake zones, inside and outside the community on Tampa Bay.

The zones are intended to protect marine life, canal banks and the safety of other boaters. Click earned a Master Captain's license through the U.S. Coast Guard and is certified by the American Sailing Association. A Florida native, he lives in Apollo Beach and plans a move to MiraBay.

* * *

ALL ABOUT TOWN: After building single-family homes in Tampa since 1989, Westfield Homes plans to break ground on townhomes.

It's a natural progression, says David Pelletz, division vice president of Westfield Homes.

Westfield aims to serve first-time home buyers, he says. As land prices escalate in the county, townhomes make $100,000 homes still possible. Construction is expected to begin early next year on about 300 units in FishHawk Ranch. They'll have 1,200 to 1,400 square feet, three bedrooms, and 21/2 bathrooms.

- 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, janet.zink@gte.net.

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