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Neighborhood profile: Coquina Key in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG

Coquina Key offers what few waterfront communities do: the opportunity to live close to the water no matter how much money you have to spend on a house.

On Coquina Key, an island in Tampa Bay in the southeastern part of the city, you can buy a waterfront luxury home for $1 million or you can buy a small block home just a couple of streets inland for $40,000.

That diversity in home prices reflects the diversity of its residents and that's what makes it a friendly and welcoming neighborhood that can appeal to anyone.

The island, which is accessible by bridges from 39th and 45th avenues S, has a population of about 4,200. Most of the homes were built from the 1950s to 1970s. The Boyd Hill Nature Preserve is about 2 1/2 miles away.

"You know the neighbors," said Jim Blackmon, a real estate agent with Realty Executives Homes in Florida in St. Petersburg. "Most of them are year-round residents. You see a lot of walkers, joggers and bicyclists.

"It's one of the areas closest to downtown St. Pete on the water. In fact, you can see downtown St. Pete if you live on the water.

The landscaping is also notable. Blackmon likens the tree planting along Coffee Pot Bayou and Snell Isle to the routes that lead into Coquina Key.

"As in every waterfront community, the higher values are on the water and the best streets are the perimeter streets," he said.

"It's been my observation that you get more bang for your buck on the south side. The flip side is that when you go to sell, even though your house has appreciated, the buyer is once again going to get more bang for the buck," Blackmon said.

There are no homeowner association fees but there is a clubhouse with a pool that anyone on the island can join for a modest fee.

The homeowners association maintains the landscaping at the entrances to the island with funds from the county.

Another good thing about Coquina Key, Blackmon said, is that it has no flooding problems.

"To my knowledge there has never been water in any of the houses in Coquina Key — at least within recent memory. The highest tide I've ever seen — and I've lived in the area since 1957 — is still several feet below the seawall," he said.

"It's a good time to buy in Coquina Key. There are houses for investors, first-time home buyers and tradeups," he said.

"It's an affordable and unique waterfront community. People love it once they are there," said Diana M. Sames, an agent with ReMax Preferred in St. Pete Beach.

"It's a boater's dream."

Patti Ewald is a freelance writer based in Gulfport. She can be reached at pattiewald@gulfcoastwriter.com.

Robin Doty and Chris Wikenczy

Their home:

1,700 square feet,

3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths

When they bought: 1998

Current value (from Zillow.com): $363,000

Why they love living here: "We like to have parties. It's a great party place. It's close to my work and close to downtown," Robin said. "It's a very diverse neighborhood. Everyone gets along well. We have block parties. We bought this house with a view of the

bay for less than we would have paid for a house on the canal," Chris said.

Unusual features of their home: It's on a half-acre lot on Tampa Bay. There is a large upstairs balcony that looks out over the pool and across the bay. "The house is upside down; the living room area is up and the bedrooms are down," Robin said. "You go upstairs to go downstairs," Chris said. There are lots of different kinds of angles in the ceiling.

Neighborhood profile: Coquina Key in St. Petersburg 10/22/10 [Last modified: Friday, October 22, 2010 5:30am]

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