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Developer Kenneth Good changed the face of New Tampa

The story of Florida is the story of men like Ken Good.

Mr. Good came to Tampa in the mid 1980s by way of Dallas and Denver, a wheeler-dealer with friends in high places, having completed the purchase of thousands of acres of scrub north of the University of South Florida.

He left four years later in a fog of bank repossessions, but he had set in motion a wave of home building that would direct development — and the very shape of Tampa — for the next two decades.

"He changed the face of New Tampa," said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. "He believed in New Tampa and had a vision for New Tampa before anyone else saw it."

Kenneth Marston Good, one of the leading developers of the tony Tampa Palms community, died in Dallas on Saturday of complications stemming from leukemia. He was 67.

Mr. Good arrived in Tampa in 1985 with a maroon Maserati sports car and wowed bigwigs with rides in his Learjet. He had just purchased 5,400 acres from Miami-based Deltona Corp. that had been slated for tract housing.

At the time, Bruce B. Downs Boulevard was known only as State Road 581, a dusty two-lane, dead-end road to nowhere. Tampa had been losing population steadily for years.

The newcomer announced plans for a gleaming "New City in the City" of 30,000 homes, many of them high end. Mr. Good gobbled up surrounding land and also purchased Plantation-based Gulf Stream Land & Development Corp. to amass more than 30,000 acres in Florida.

Before he'd arrived, Deltona had arranged to have Tampa Palms annexed by the city because Hillsborough County could not offer modern municipal amenities such as water and sewer service. As construction got under way, large landowners to the north sought annexation and began breaking ground as well, a boom that would spread well into Pasco County for years.

Mr. Good took up residence in a 5,000-square-foot golf course home in the community.

"No doubt his project left a huge impact, not only with those living in New Tampa, but in terms of how Tampa was defined as a city on the move," said former Gov. Bob Martinez, who was Tampa mayor at the time.

Mr. Good was born in Wichita, Kan., to Forest and Ruby Dee Good, his father a strict Methodist minister. He had completed his first major real estate development transaction by age 22.

During the recession of the 1970s, he narrowly escaped bankruptcy. He relocated to Denver, where he oversaw a series of large-scale developments.

In Denver, he developed close associations with high-ranking state officials. Later congressional hearings investigated his investments with Neil Bush, son of the first President George Bush and brother of the second. Neil Bush was a director of Silverado Savings and Loan, which had lent Mr. Good and his partners $132 million and would go bust in 1988.

For a time, business appeared to thrive. Mr. Good owned Denver's largest home, a $10 million, 33,000-square-foot mansion with a separate plumbing system that pumped Scotch, gin and vodka.

But the real estate business was showing signs of trouble by the time he arrived in Tampa.

Mr. Good's business model appeared to hinge on using his acquisitions to secure more loans, which worked fine when the money was flowing. But the real estate recession that hit Florida hard in the late 1980s struck Denver even sooner, rippling to Mr. Good's Florida holdings.

Lenders foreclosed on Tampa Palms and his homes there and in Denver. Mr. Good left Tampa in 1989, returning to Dallas where, according to news accounts, he continued to work deals.

Times researcher John Martin and staff writer Richard Danielson contributed to this report, which includes information from the Washington Post and the Dallas Morning News.

.BIOGRAPHY

Kenneth

Marston Good

Born: Aug. 3, 1944.

Died: Aug. 13, 2011.

Survivors: Wife Carmen; children Ken Jr., Lily, Tiffany and Tony; brother Wally Good; sister Ernestine Holmes; and four grandchildren.

Developer Kenneth Good changed the face of New Tampa 08/16/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 11:48pm]
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