LAND O'LAKES — On a sprawling piece of land 20 miles north of Tampa International Airport sits the community of Ballantrae.
The Pasco County development is on State Road 54, a mile or so east of the Suncoast Parkway in Land O'Lakes — a great location, say residents and local real estate agents.
"It's in a corridor that makes everything convenient," says Brenna Eddins, an agent with Seven Oaks Realty in Wesley Chapel. "You can get to the airport in 20 minutes or go straight down 54 to the beaches."
Nearby new schools also provide a draw. Many students in Ballantrae go to Oakstead Elementary, which opened in 2006, and to Charles S. Rushe Middle School and Sunlake High School, which both opened in 2007.
"A lot of good things about real estate now are the same things that have always been important: good location, good schools and ease of travel," Eddins says.
Resident Marie Glass, who has 8-year-old twins, said the schools were a main reason she chose to live in the neighborhood. "All three schools are within 1 or 2 miles of my home," she says. "They are all A-rated schools with excellent teachers, staff and programs."
Given current market conditions, more young families are able to find a place in Ballantrae, which is relatively young as well, welcoming its first residents in early 2005. The development now features 969 homes clustered into six smaller "villages" off the development's main road. The village of townhouses features three styles, each with three bedrooms and between 1,500 and 1,800 square feet; they are available for about $100,000, Eddins says. Single-family homes are available from less than $200,000 to just under $300,000 depending on the size of the home.
"It's a good mix of retirees and young families, but retirees are the minority," says Jim Flateau, chairman of Ballantrae's community development district. "There are lots of couples with young kids."
Between and around the villages are wetlands, small lakes and green space, which give Ballantrae an expansive feel. The development sits on 436 acres but feels much bigger.
It also is well-maintained. The homeowners association, Flateau explains, is in charge of overseeing private property, determining things such as the color palette for the houses, most of which are shades of brown and beige and other muted colors. The community development district is in charge of community property, which includes a pool and clubhouse in addition to the green space and water features.
Other amenities are a playground, tennis, volleyball and basketball courts and a large open field, Flateau says.
"I thoroughly love living in Ballantrae. That's why we got active in the community," he adds. "It's a beautiful little community. What we call villages establish small neighborhoods where people live and get to know each other.
"Homes are well-kept and people take a lot of pride in living in Ballantrae."
Patti Ewald is a freelance writer based in Gulfport. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.