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New construction feeds need for new housing in Westchase area

WESTCHASE

After years of uncertainty, both builders and buyers are making moves again in the Westchase housing market.

Two recently built apartment communities are full, another complex is in the works and a new housing development is under way.

"There is pent-up demand," said Nancy Wood, a real estate agent in Westchase. "It's night and day from where we were just a few years ago."

Fueling the growth, Wood said, is a desire for new properties.

"To have a new construction alternative versus some of these homes that may not be as updated, people are finding it appealing," she said. "Everybody loves brand-new."

That's something Westchase is missing. Founded in 1990, the planned community has no land left for future development. But there's plenty of space to expand around it. And people are interested.

"Everything you need is right there," said Mike Roche, vice president of sales and marketing for housing developer Ashton Woods. "There are wonderful restaurants and shopping within a couple of miles."

The Atlanta-based company is building Champions Forest, a single-family home community of 91 houses ranging from 1,556 square feet to more than 3,200, and priced starting at $248,990.

Located near the corner of Montague Street and Memorial Highway, the property had been in Ashton Woods' sights for years, but the company waited until the time was right to build.

"Things started to turn about a year ago," Roche said. "The quality of traffic coming through the door got a little better, prices started to tick up and we thought the timing was great."

Several model homes are expected to be completed this month. Already, 15 homes have been presold, Roche said.

"The phones just started ringing off the hook as soon as we put the sign up," he said.

It's a similar story for Houston-based multifamily housing developer Camden.

"We have been interested in that area for a long time," said Chad Weaver, Camden's vice president of real estate investments. "We acquired (two properties) before the downturn, had them fully designed and really ready to go when the downturn occurred; that's when we stopped all new development across the country."

Construction started up again in 2011.

Now, the 348-unit Camden Westchase Park, 12112 Sugarloaf Key St., and the 192-unit Camden Montague, 9567 Sunbelt St., are both 95 percent full.

"It's the appeal of brand-new — not having to go in after somebody else has been in the house," Wood said. "People still love the appeal of being the first one in the home and getting to choose the upgrades."

The location helps, too.

"It's an attractive ZIP code," Roche said. "I think Westchase is probably a more prestigious area of Tampa. It held its value very well despite these tough years … ."

The Richman Group of Florida, part of a national development firm, is developing the Sedona, a 240-unit apartment complex on 16.13 acres off W Hillsborough Avenue near Double Branch Road. The estimated $30 million community is expected to be finished in July.

"We recognized several excellent reasons to build in the Westchase area," said Todd Fabbri, executive vice president of the Richman Group, in an email. "The Sedona apartment community is part of a growing, desirable residential neighborhood. Add to that good schools, convenience to shopping, restaurants and employment centers and you have a very attractive area to live in."

Another apartment complex is in the works. The Altman Companies, a luxury residential rental developer with headquarters in Boca Raton, plans to build Altis at Highland Park, a mixed-use project with 239 apartments and 5,000 square feet of retail space, according to a news release. It will be located off Racetrack Road near Westchase. Closing on the property is anticipated for mid April, according to the release.

Only a few areas in Hillsborough County are experiencing growth right now. Construction of Waterset, a single-family community in Apollo Beach, sparked interest last year because of its size. The community plans to build 3,500 homes in its first phase.

But all is not lost for those in Westchase hoping to sell their already lived-in homes, Wood said.

"A lot of owners are putting in upgrades," Wood said. "Many are putting in new tile, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances. These are smart things to do as a homeowner in the Westchase area."

New construction feeds need for new housing in Westchase area 03/21/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 1:53pm]
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