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New name, hope for bayou project


© St. Petersburg Times, published November 15, 2000

ST. PETERSBURG -- The townhome development on Little Bayou off 52nd Avenue S no longer is called Rutland Estates. It now is Banyan Pointe, and a new sign outside the front gates suggests work is about to begin again on townhomes that will be offered for sale in the mid-$200,000 range.

But the development now consists of three unfinished buildings, left in limbo for a year and a half by the original developer, Robert Swain, who had gone to bankruptcy court for protection while trying to reorganize his assets. The wooded acres have been cleared of trash recently, and the grass is mowed.

The new owner is South St. Pete Realty, said Sam I. Reiber of Tampa, who is listed as the agent for the company. He would not say who is in St. Pete Realty.

Sun Beach Real Estate Inc. is marketing Banyan Pointe, but no one from the company was available for comment Tuesday. In a flier available at the gates, Sun Beach offers 52 three-story townhomes in 26 buildings, some of which are on the waterfront.

Amenities include a community pool, boardwalk and optional wet slip docks, according to the pamphlet. Bonus or media rooms are offered on the third floors of the townhomes. Living areas are supposed to be 2,500 square feet plus two-car garages.

Rutland Estates initially was begun by Swain, who bought the historic Rutland property in 1997, including the mansion built in 1913. He sold the mansion and some acreage, then began developing the remaining 9.5 acres before seeking bankruptcy protection in July 1999.

AmSouth Bank ended up with the property after the bankruptcy suit was dismissed.

A number of buyers put down money to reserve townhomes in Rutland Estates. Carole Metour of St. Petersburg was one. She said she still is trying to get her money back. She put $22,000 down, has been told $11,000 was spent but hopes to recover the remaining $11,000.

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