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Turnout at downtown home tour gives Realtors hope

Marc and LaQuinda Brewington brought their two daughters for the Urban Tour of Homes. The family has lived in Brandon nine years but is considering a move.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Marc and LaQuinda Brewington brought their two daughters for the Urban Tour of Homes. The family has lived in Brandon nine years but is considering a move.

TAMPA — A steady trickle of potential buyers streamed through nine downtown developments Saturday as part of the Urban Tour of Homes.

Investors, young professionals and families toured the high-rise condominiums, some hoping to buy and others just curious about downtown living.

The tour included several complexes near Channelside, as well as SkyPoint on Ashley Drive and a few across the river. The price tags ranged from the $180 thousands to the millions.

Despite slow sales in a gloomy market that hit shortly after some of the developments were completed, real estate agents said Saturday that things are starting to look better. A larger-than-average turnout at Saturday's event, despite the rain, gives hope that the market is improving, said Realtor Sam Pupello, who sells units at Grand Central near Channelside.

"There's a lot of young professionals who want to live an urban lifestyle," he said. "They work downtown, and they want to live downtown."

At Grand Central, Jesse Hoyer, 24, and her mom toured a one-bedroom unit. Hoyer, a third-year law student at the University of Florida, is looking for a place to live when she moves back to Tampa next year.

"It's about convenience more than anything," she said. The condos are near the courthouses, as well as nightlife in South Tampa, she said.

Families are also considering the move. Marc and LaQuinda Brewington brought their two daughters with them to visit condos near Channelside.

They have lived in Brandon for nine years, but they're considering a move. They especially liked the Towers of Channelside, which has a resort-like pool that Chelsea, 11, loved. Her parents are enticed by the nearby schools, a public park and the ability to walk to food and shopping.

"Everything is down here right now except the people," LaQuinda Brewington, 38, said. She owns a public relations firm and her husband is a manager of business systems at HSBC bank.

When asked "which comes first, the residents or the retail?" many people Saturday said they believe the retail will follow. And when it does, maybe they'll have a prime piece of property, Brewington said.

Steve Pralle of Hyde Park was a little more unsure. He's considering buying property to rent out, and he said downtown Tampa is an option.

He was weighing whether this is a good time to invest, and cautiously optimistic that in six to nine months the market will be back on the upswing.

"And hopefully there will be quick appreciation," he added.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2443.

Turnout at downtown home tour gives Realtors hope 06/21/08 [Last modified: Monday, June 23, 2008 5:53pm]

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