New housing pace slows to a trickle

A study shows a 46 percent drop in residential projects in the county.

Published May 4, 2007

Last year, Pasco County communities accounted for nearly half of the top 10 developments in the Tampa Bay region generating new homes.

But, according to findings released Monday by Metrostudy, a market analysis firm, only Meadow Pointe is now holding onto a position in the top five.

Suncoast Meadows, in Land O'Lakes, eked out at number 10, slipping three spots from its previous showing in February.

Other giant communities that did well in the past two years, like Concord Station and Ballantrae in Land O'Lakes, and Country Walk in Wesley Chapel, have fallen off the top 10 charts.

Meadow Pointe has long been a bestseller since its launch in 1991. But, last year, even Wesley Chapel's heavyweight saw construction halved compared with the previous year.

In its latest study, Metrostudy found that the county's annual housing starts - meaning new residential construction - fell 46 percent in 2006 from the year before, the biggest drop in the Tampa Bay area.

But, in some cases, the chilly market does not explain everything.

For example, the award-winning, 4, 800-acre "new town" of Connerton in Land O'Lakes launched its sales in late 2005.

It's approved for 8, 700 homes. So far, it's sold about 200, said Stewart Gibbons, Connerton's president.

It hasn't made the top 10 since it launched. Gibbons said Connerton has suffered from the adverse market, but inventory is not high.

In Wesley Chapel, developments like Bridgewater and Wilderness Lake Preserve are close to being built out anyway, according to Russ Perlowski, an agent with Exit KG Realty.

Analysts say inventory needs to be burned off - that means housing start numbers must decline - before the market can recover.

Chuin-Wei Yap can be reached at 813 909-4613 or cyap@sptimes.com.