Community's different by design

Built with pedestrians in mind, a new townhome subdivision in Citrus Park follows a "neotraditional" style.

Published March 26, 2006

CITRUS PARK -- A new townhome community in the heart of Citrus Park sits so close to the road that some say it's ominously close to traffic. But the truth is, Village Centre's homes are situated in just the way the Citrus Park Village Plan recommends.

"It's such a shock to everybody because they're not used to that,'' said Janet Hiltz, vice president of the Citrus Park Civic Association. "But if they've ever visited West Park Village in Westchase, or Celebration, that's pretty much what they do in that kind of design.''

The 72-home community just south of Ehrlich Road fronts the portion of Gunn Highway that parallels the Upper Tampa Bay Trail and is built in the pedestrian-friendly, "neotraditional'' style.

The two- and three-bedroom homes range from 1,400 square feet to 1,700 square feet and sell for about $260,000. Earth tone buildings overlook common areas, walkways and a community pool and cabana.

The buildings also meet the zoning requirements laid out by the Citrus Park Village Plan, a blueprint that residents, consultants and planners hammered out over three years. The plan seeks to create a mixed-use, urban-style community of more than 800 acres. It includes a proposed village center with shops and homes, using the Upper Tampa Bay Trail as a major focal point in a place where people both live and work.

The Citrus Park Village Plan is part of the bigger Northwest Plan, which does not replace the county's current land development code. Rather, it offers an alternative with the built-in incentives of faster permitting and greater density in the town centers.

Village Centre "is more pedestrian-friendly, provides a streetscape, sidewalks and is focused on community green space,'' said the project's developer, Scott Doster, president of GSD Development of Tampa. "You're within walking distance of the mall and there's a trail across the street so you can walk over, or hop on a bike, go to the mall and not have to rely entirely on vehicles.''

Doster, who said his company likes to build in areas where existing amenities can be used, also developed West Park Village.

No one would argue that Village Centre is surrounded by amenities. In addition to shopping and the trail, there's a district Sheriff's Office, a fire station and Citrus Park Elementary, all close by.

All the homes in the first phase are sold and most of those in the second phase are spoken for, Doster said. Permitting for the second phase of 33 homes is scheduled for this summer. The first of the buyers in the first phase are scheduled to close on their new homes this week.

Jackie Ripley can be reached at ripley@sptimes.com or 813 269-5308.