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Neighborhood profile: Westchase in Tampa

It was a mid-October Saturday with comfortable temperatures and clear skies — the payoff that gets Floridians through seemingly endless summers.

Spend that day in Tampa's planned Westchase community, and you understand why so many people choose to live and work here, happy to do so even on the stickiest of days. Common interests, especially schools and children's sports teams, and neighborhood businesses drive the community feel, says resident Chris Planeta, a 45-year-old former Marine.

"You never have to go anywhere," he says. "You know everybody because you're always around here. The kids are at the same bus stop over here, a block away. So every morning at 7:30, it's dogs and coffee, 95 kids getting on the bus, all the dads are dressed in suits and the moms are in sweats, and off we go in our separate directions. It's great. Absolutely great."

Westchase was designed to bring clients to the businesses by offering a variety of residences: apartments, apartments above retail, townhomes, maintenance-free villas and single-family homes, says Kirk David, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker. "Westchase was the first master-planned community in this part of the county that included residential and commercial and office space."

Westchase was created, David says, with a "South Tampa setup" in mind. West Park Village, the social/business hub at Linebaugh Avenue and Montague Street, "kind of reminds me of the old Hyde Park," says John Kromer, broker/owner of Century 21 Bay West.

But Planeta, who has lived in both areas, says Westchase has accomplished what South Tampa could not. "Our biggest observation of South Tampa is: $100,000 house, $1.6 million house, deserted house, $2 million house. It's just very disparate. Everybody goes to different private schools. We lived down there for a while and talked to only several of the neighbors over a period of years.

"I think this (Westchase) was set up this way, bringing you to places that they have put together, so you get drawn into it. There are parks where all the houses face each other. The kids are there, you just get sucked in."

The neighborhood also has brains behind the beauty of its social greenspace. "It's all underground utilities, reclaimed water, natural gas — all the things that a lot of people are looking for in a planned-unit development," Kromer says. "It's almost a Disney-ish feel. Everything is newer, clean."

David explains it this way: "Westchase has all the eye candy that none of these other places around here have."

Lawrence Hollyfield is a freelance writer in Tampa. He can be reached at LH@excom1.com.

Neighborhood Year Sold Minimum price Maximum price Median price
Westchase 2009* 135 $169,900 $538,100 $270,000
2008 190 $170,000 $817,500 $320,000
2007 192 $225,000 $955,000 $385,000
2006 279 $210,000 $850,000 $407,000
2005 478 $196,000 $1,050,000 $378,750
2004 479 $155,000 $725,000 $280,000
2003 462 $157,500 $620,000 $264,450
2002 525 $138,100 $575,000 $244,000
2001 688 $124,000 $597,000 $213,000
Nearby neighborhoods Year Sold Minimum price Maximum price Median price
Citrus Pointe 2009* 10 $71,000 $225,000 $129,000
Fawn Ridge 2009* 24 $110,000 $276,000 $197,500
Waterchase 2009* 29 $250,000 $910,000 $490,000

Compiled from Hillsborough County property appraiser records by Times researcher Will Gorham; *Jan. 1-Oct. 16

Chris Planeta

The home: 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms with about 2,800 square feet, plus a garage.

When his family moved in: June 2008.

Current value (from Zillow.com): $383,500.

Why they love it: A military career brought the Planetas to Tampa. They lived in South Tampa while Chris was working at MacDill Air Force Base. In 2002 they moved into a Westchase townhouse. When they needed more space for their three kids, Chris and his wife chose a nearby house because they didn't want to lose the community feeling. "Everything is here," Chris said. "The kids go to school right across the street. Park, pool . . . everything is within reach and we're very close to all the neighbors.
. . . We have parties in the field and everybody brings their grills out." As many as 50 kids and 20 parents get together for the cookouts once a month or so. Kids and schools are a unifying element for Westchase families. "The school has 1,000 kids but you would never know it," Mrs. Planeta said. "We all help each other out, get kids from the bus stop. Someone's always over at our house. There are kids everywhere. My husband has friends. I have friends. There's always something to do. It's a real fun place to live."

• History of single-family home sales

• Current homes on the market

Neighborhood profile: Westchase in Tampa 10/23/09 [Last modified: Friday, July 16, 2010 5:46pm]

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