Street gives hints of beach town's future look

Published June 8, 2005

REDINGTON SHORES - If you need proof that the face of Redington Shores is changing, take a drive down 175th Avenue.

On the southeast corner of Gulf Boulevard, construction is well under way on four Mediterranean-style upscale townhouses.

As you drive toward the Intracoastal Waterway, "For Sale" signs march down the sides of the street in front of 1950s-era duplexes.

So far, there are seven signs, some saying "sold" and others "contract pending."

According to real estate agent Dave Browning, more signs will be going up soon.

Most of the properties have been or are in the process of being purchased by Gannaway Builders, a Clearwater firm intent on capitalizing on the growth of this up-and-coming beach community.

Redington Shores stretches nearly 2 miles along the Gulf of Mexico. Over the years, it has become a community of retirees, young families, fishing enthusiasts and tourists. The town has many restaurants, businesses and hotels, as well.

And 175th Avenue was typical of the town's many sleepy side streets of small duplexes, some occupied by owners who rented the other half, others purely rental properties.

Approaching the water at the end of the street, the atmosphere changes to more upscale waterfront single-family homes.

A half-block to the north of 175th Avenue sits the former Parsley's Mobile Home Park, now an increasingly busy 23-acre construction site that incoming months will become a $150-million-plus gated condominium and housing development.

The Redington Shores Yacht and Tennis Club at the Parsley's site will include swimming pools, tennis courts and boat slips. Each unit will cost between $565,000 and $1.5-million.

Although this is one of the largest developments on the beach, if not in the county, in recent years, the rest of Redington Shores is changing as well.

And 175th Avenue is just one slice Commissioner Marshall Reynolds says will make this year's 26 percent increase in property values pale in comparison.

In addition to the Parsley's development, an upscale condominium project on the Gulf of Mexico is under way and several others are planned, according to Marshall.

A home on the Intracoastal Waterway had five offers, all above the asking price, as soon as it went on the market, he said.

"Next year, the increase in property values could be better than last year," he said Monday. "It seems there is something new going on every day. It is really exciting."

Reynolds credits Mayor J.J. Beyrouti's efforts over the years to promote and encourage planned development throughout the town.

The town has a vision of what it wants to be and look like. Last year, the commission approved "urban design guidelines" for buildings to create a "pedestrian-friendly, aesthetically coherent" environment that would continue to attract a balanced mix of families, retirees and tourists.

Now, the town is seriously considering undergrounding utilities throughout its neighborhoods.

And for that sleepy neighborhood of aging duplexes along 175th, the streetscape will soon be filled with upscale townhomes, similar to what is being built at the intersection with Gulf Boulevard.

Four of the properties have cleared the town's Board of Adjustment, which recently approved Gannaway Builders' variance requests to reduce rear setbacks from 15 to 10 feet. Similar variances on two additional properties will be considered at the board'sJune 22 meeting. A variance request for a seventh property is expected shortly, according to town officials.

Browning, who owns and sold one of the duplexes to Gannaway Builders, says he recognized early the potential of the street.

"After I sold several waterfront single-family homes, I found the duplexes were a liability; people didn't like the view driving to their new homes. So I bought one and put it up for sale to test the market. Then I listed a few more for friends in the neighborhood," he said.

Browning predicts the property values of the entire neighborhood will rise as townhomes replace the duplexes.

"This town has been undervalued for a long time. That is about to change," said Browning.