Beach property values rise sharply
By AMY WIMMER
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 20, 2001
Buoyed by beachfront property owners trying to build or remodel before new state regulations take effect, property values in most of the small coastal communities of south Pinellas will increase substantially this year, the county's Property Appraiser reports.
Leading the pack is North Redington Beach, where the last of the new waterfront Tides Beach Club condominiums were completed in 2000. Property values there shot up 19.2 percent, the greatest increase for any city in Pinellas County.
The Tides and the Villages of North Redington Beach, another new upscale condominium development, sent the small town of 1,474 residents into a skyrocketing property values pattern that has lasted three years. Values have increased more than 60 percent since 1998.
The muddy orange buildings also gave North Redington a significant landmark, distinguishing it from Redington Beach to the south and Redington Shores to the north.
Those neighboring communities also fared well. Redington Beach values increased 9.1 percent; Redington Shores, 13.5 percent.
Other towns, particularly those that have traditionally lagged in the redevelopment of their waterfronts, also benefited from the tearing down of old, tired beachfront buildings and the construction of large condominiums, hotels and single-family homes. Remodeling also helped boost property values.
Many building officials on the beaches attributed last year's increase in beachfront construction to the imminence of the state's Coastal Construction Control Line, a Department of Environmental Protection-enforced jurisdiction line that was expected to be redrawn this year.
"Developers feel the CCCL is going to add additional costs to their project, so they're trying to beat that," said Michael Knotek, community services director in St. Pete Beach.
The CCCL, which currently runs beachward of most waterfront properties in Pinellas, was scheduled to move east toward Gulf Boulevard. It would force property owners west of the line to build to tougher standards and seek state permits for their projects.
Beach officials are still arguing with the DEP over where -- or if -- the line will be moved, but the threat spurred property owners into action last year, many building officials say.
That was particularly true in places such as Indian Shores, where values increased 18.4 percent. Building Official Mike Nadeau was involved in the negotiations with DEP, and he kept contractors there informed about the impending changes.
In Gulfport, property values increased 9.3 percent citywide and 6.3 percent in its waterfront business district. While still a formidable jump, the increases pale in comparison to the 2000 figures for Gulfport's waterfront district, which showed a 15.5 percent jump from 1999.
City Manager Bob Lee said the property values citywide indicate that residents are taking pride in their homes and improving their properties.
Madeira Beach, St. Pete Beach and Treasure Island all experienced comparable growth of 9 or 10 percent. All three cities have made decisions lately that take valuable properties off the tax rolls -- and they expect those decisions to only benefit their property values in the future.
In Madeira Beach, a state grant allowed the city to purchase land for a waterfront park at the Tom Stuart Causeway entrance to the city; in St. Pete Beach, an offer from a local developer made the existing City Hall property available for a waterfront park.
And the city of Treasure Island bought and demolished the Dilley property, former home of "Ma Dill's Bait & Tackle, opening up a waterfront view from Gulf Boulevard.
In time, city officials hope, the decisions will pay off because their investments will inspire other property owners.
In the meantime, redevelopment and fill-in development are still responsible for rising property values, city officials say.
"What I think I would attribute this to is we've had a couple of buildings go up that were on vacant lands before," Treasure Island Mayor Leon Atkinson said. "Quite a few homes have been purchased and torn down and rebuilt."
These properties were the most valuable in each of the south Pinellas coastal cities in 2000. The 2001 figures are not yet available. When the property includes multiple parcels, these figures might represent only the most significant parcels:
North Redington Beach
Grand Shores West
San Remo Beach Club
St. Pete Beach
Don CeSar Beach Resort & Spa
Fountains of Boca Ciega Bay
Tierra Verde Yacht & Tennis Resort
Bilmar Beach Resort
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