In the southwest corner of Hillsborough County, the gated community of Southshore Falls is home to almost 500 families who like being tucked away and yet close to everything.
"We are centrally located," homeowner Hank DeOca says. "We can get anywhere from here in an hour."
Southshore Falls, which will have 866 homes when the development is completed, is a 55-plus Del Webb community off U.S. 41 in Apollo Beach.
The neighborhood offers several home style options. New freestanding homes, which range from 1,730 square feet to 2,278 square feet, are available for $186,990 to $206,990. New villas are available in two- and four-unit clusters that sell for $139,990 to $169,990.
Homes in the community are selling despite the drop in the housing market, with 483 single-family and villa homes sold since the start of the development in 2005, according to sales associate Scott Teal. "We've been able to sustain ourselves."
Home options and price points are just part of the appeal. "People come here because of the lifestyle Del Webb provides," Teal says. "It's like being on a vacation inside their community."
The view from the clubhouse confirms that. The back doors open up to a pool area as beautiful and lush as any tropical resort. There are two large pools, a lagoon pool and a resistance pool in which the water constantly moves for residents who want water exercise. Tennis courts and another pool elsewhere within the community are in the plans, Teal says.
Southshore Falls is a traditional neighborhood rather than a destination market, he says. That means it's in an area in which the population does not swell in the winter and shrink in the summer.
The community does attract buyers from many states but half the buyers are Floridians. A map on the clubhouse wall shows that 276 residents are from Florida. The next largest contingents by state are Ohio (17), New York (16) and Massachusetts (15). Teal says about three-quarters of Southshore Falls residents live here all year.
"There are tons of things to do here," says Barbara DeOca, Hank's wife. She said they use the pools when it's not too hot. When it is, they gather with other residents in the clubhouse to play bridge, euchre or pinochle. They also have dinner and wine parties. Sometimes buses take residents to Tampa Bay Rays games or other outings.
"It's not really about the houses," Teal says. "I mean the homes are important, but people move here for the lifestyle the community has to offer."
"You have to look at a community like this," Barbara DeOca says, "and ask yourself if this is a community if — God forbid — we would be happy in if we became widowed."
Apparently it is.
"We're here for the duration," Barbara DeOca says.
Patti Ewald is a freelance writer based in Gulfport. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.