SAFETY HARBOR — It may seem odd, but one of the best views of Old Tampa Bay in this city is from the Harbour Pointe parking lot.
That sweeping view of the marina area could become a lot harder to enjoy under an ambitious proposal to add three-story luxury townhomes to a project already planned for a shady square of land at Iron Age Street and Second Avenue S.
Olympia Development, which already has city permission to put eight units of two-story townhomes on the property, now has submitted a proposal to add a second, taller phase to the project.
Harbour Pointe Village is a $10-million to $12-million project. The first phase was approved by the City Commission several years ago.
The next phase calls for 15 three-story units just north of Phase 1 on property where Hildegard's Art House and Beer Garden and the old Waterview Apartments once stood.
A sales center for Phase 1 units recently opened, but none have sold so far. It was empty Thursday morning.
"We will break ground when we get enough sales,'' said Olympia chief executive officer Edward Entreken.
Prices for the first phase of townhomes, which are 2,300 to 2,700 square feet, range from $679,250 to $983,250 (that's with the 5 percent preconstruction discount). Monthly maintenance fees are about $800.
Even with area real estate sales on the decline, Entreken believes there is a market for upscale homes.
"Is it the greatest time to build? No,'' Entreken said. "But this is a very prime location and it's in a price range where we still think there are buyers.''
The now-empty lot is shaded by several century-old oaks, but not for long.
"Most of the trees will be cut down,'' said Entreken, adding he is trying to save some of them. "Those trees are not particularly healthy.''
According to the city's community development director, Matt McLachlan, it is not known if there are any so-called grand trees on the property.
"If any grand trees are removed, they would have to compensate for the loss by paying into the city's tree fund,'' he said.
It is not clear when the planning and zoning board will discuss the project or when it will go to the City Commission for final approval.
The three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath Mediterranean-style Phase 1 townhomes will be well-appointed. There will be second-floor terraces, private courtyards, front porches, two-car garages and decorative molding and trim on the outside.
The interior will feature arched doorways, 10-foot ceilings and oak staircases.
Each buyer will get a membership to the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa, also owned by Olympia.
Patty Kent was upset when she learned that the townhomes will be three stories tall, which city code allows in the downtown area.
"There are just so many of us that are frustrated that developers come in and give little consideration of the climate and character of the town,'' she said. "It's out of control. It's too much and too big for that area."
Mayor Andy Steingold said he still has a lot of questions about the project.
But he said he welcomes development of vacant downtown properties, as long as they "fit into the small-town charm of the city.''
Eileen Schulte can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727)