Bob Rocke searched more than a year for the perfect vintage Hyde Park bungalow to buy.
Finally, he found it - on an empty lot on Hills Avenue in Hyde Park.
Rocke, who has lived in a townhome on Harbour Island for three years, decided recently to build an old-style home from the ground up.
He is one of a growing number of people with a hankering for homes characteristic of Tampa's older neighborhoods, such as Hyde Park and Seminole Heights, but built with the latest energy efficiency techniques and open floor plans.
After decades of churning out so-called Florida contemporary homes - one-story boxes sided with stucco in neutral colors - even production builders are lining the streets of subdivisions with more traditional looks.
Westfield Homes markets new homes in the suburbs as offering a "Hyde Park look," hoping to capitalize on the popularity of south Tampa neighborhoods, and Inland Homes has added a front porch to some of its models throughout the county. MiraBay, a waterfront community in south Hillsborough County, boasts all "Old Florida Coastal" styles, and WestPark Village in northwest Hillsborough came out several years ago with neotraditional styles.
"It's an interesting phenomenon," said Joseph Narkiewicz, executive vice president of the Tampa Bay Builders Association. "The buyers, they'll see a design they like in a traditional setting, but don't necessarily want to be in a traditional community."
Many buyers, Narkiewicz said, want a brand new home in a subdivision with large lots, a swimming pool, clubhouse and other amenities typical in the suburbs.
Westfield Homes added bungalows with dormer windows and large front porches framed by squat columns to its product line three years ago in VillaRosa in northwest Hillsborough.
"We started to get a lot of people of different demographics who really liked the style of the south Tampa homes but because of the (lack of) affordability in south Tampa weren't able to take advantage of it," said David Pelletz, division vice president for Westfield Homes.
Now Westfield offers those models in Reflections in Lutz and FishHawk Ranch in Lithia.
One model in FishHawk features a front porch framed by stout columns mounted on pedestals, multipaned windows with wide casing and a double-gable roof. But inside the four-bedroom, two-bathroom, 2,216-square-foot home is throughly modern, with recessed can lighting, a two-car garage, and a double-vanity and walk-in closet in the master bathroom. The home is priced from $173,000, including the home site.
Try finding a bungalow for that price in Hyde Park.
Westfield follows the theme through with the interior design of the models. Although the floor plans are contemporary, with open kitchens that overlook casual living areas, the homes often boast claw-foot tubs, wood ceilings, wainscoting and 1-inch tile on the bathroom floors.
Hyde Park Builders got its start in Hyde Park and has a huge portfolio of bungalow- and verandah-style homes built on lots in south Tampa. But the company is taking that look to the suburbs as well. They're slated to build bungalow-style villas in FishHawk's Garden District.
"It's a return to traditional architecture, which was prevalent for the last hundred years. It's always been there. It's just a return, in the same way there's a return to so many other values in society," said Scott Shimberg, of Hyde Park Builders.
While the bungalows have their fans, the Florida contemporary style remains a popular choice. The stucco box, Shimberg said, was created to accommodate the state's constant flood of newcomers.
"It was the cheapest way to put as much square footage as possible under a roof," Shimberg said. As long as the people keep coming, those homes, builders say, aren't about to disappear.