Anne Marie Campbell, Sam Giunta and all their worldly belongings just fit — albeit snugly — in their 1,300-square-foot Bayshore Boulevard condominium.
It was tight but they made it work — until Campbell retired from her human resources job and brought her things home from the office. That little bit of stuff tripped the tilt button, busted out the seams. No more room. Too crowded.
They started looking around for something bigger in South Tampa where Giunta, a semiretired CPA, has spent his entire life, and where Campbell has lived for decades. They like it there.
One day, they plucked a brochure out of their mailbox from Westshore Yacht Club, a gated community of 350 homes, townhomes and condos nestled just south of the Gandy Bridge on Old Tampa Bay, about 5 miles from where they were living. They went to see it and ended up buying a "fee simple" townhouse, which means they own the land on which it sits.
Their home was yet to be built, good news because that meant they could choose many of its interior features, bad news because they had nowhere to live after their Bayshore condo sold in two days (at more than their asking price).
That was 2012. The housing market was still in a slump. They got a bargain, buying their place for about $290,000, considerably less than other places they checked out. And it would be new construction, something Campbell longed for.
After moving in, they say what they like best about the community — after their neighbors, of course — are the amenities available to residents.
There are two pools — one for families, one for adults — that are heated year-round. There's a spa with massage rooms and a nail salon. There is an exercise room where you can look out over the bay as you work up a sweat. There's a full restaurant and a couple of bars. The wait staff meanders among the sunbathers around the pool to take drink orders. It's like living in a resort.
But those luxuries come at a price. Giunta and Campbell said they pay about $10,000 a year in fees for membership in the neighborhood associations and the Bay Club. In addition to exterior upkeep, they get cable, water, insurance and a guard at the gate for that money.
Campbell said it's about the same as they would pay on their own. "If people sit down and do their homework, they'd find the cost of insurance, cable, whatever it costs to join a fitness center . . . they all add up."
It's a short walk straight out their front door to the Bay Club, past the homes of professional athletes, MacDill brass and other local celebrities. The club is an opulent building whose old-money feel belies its relatively young age.
This weekday afternoon, the restaurant and bars are closed and there are only a few people in the pools, but the weather and the sweeping views of the bay and the 149-slip marina are fabulous.
There's not much for sale, but 54 condos are planned near the 15-story tower on the north end of the development. Interested? Get your dibs in. They get scooped up in a hurry.