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BUILDING A FANTASY

If it's lifestyles of the rich and famous you're after, here's your chance.

Today, in the exclusive community of Avila in northwest Hillsborough, is the opening of the Street of Dreams. Six new, expensive ($695,000 to almost $1-million), lavishly decorated homes will be open through Nov. 27. (See the box and map on Page 00 for details.)

You're invited to walk through them, ooh and ahh, and take notes on the design trends, the colors, the details, the latest high-tech features, the newest building materials and techniques.

Few of us will be remodeling our homes to incorporate the features on display here: fiber-optic lighting in our swimming pools to make the water change color. Our own halogen-lighted golf tee and green. Media rooms with TVs the size of the screen at the multiplex. But it's fun to look. And eventually some of what you see here will filter down, one way or another, into the price ranges that real people can afford.

For the six custom builders who have been racing the clock (and the rain) in recent weeks to finish on time, a project like this is an opportunity to do some things they haven't done before.

"It gives us a chance to do a house with the ideas we come up with," said Charley Hannah, of Hannah-Bartoletta Homes, which is showing the 5,071-square-foot "Barcelona." Most of the time, his company is designing homes for a specific buyer and must incorporate the features the buyer wants. (That's the case with several other homes in the Street of Dreams, which have already been sold.) But the five-bedroom, 4{-bath home that Hannah's company is showing is still for sale, for $760,000 unfurnished. Creating this house without a specific buyer gives the builder a chance to show off new ideas he's been yearning for a chance to try: restaurant-quality kitchen appliances; a separate suite for the kids with living room/study, two bedrooms and two baths; and a huge media room.

Notice these features as you walk through the six homes:

Real colors on the walls. In the Gray Homes "Graycious" model, for example, look for rosy terra-cotta, light coffee, dark lavender.

Lots of stone. Granite counters in many of the kitchens. Marble and polished limestone in Castle Construction's "Castillion" model. Slate in the master bath floor, synthetic coral in the master shower, and a porcelain pool deck in the Custom Craft/Arthur Rutenberg "Brittany."

Wood. Maple cabinets in the kitchens at the Ronzetti "Boca Raton" and in the Gray Homes "Graycious." In the Alvarez Homes "Floridian," look for lots of wainscoting, wood ceilings, paneling and wood columns.

Fantasy pools. Look for seats, tables, jets, spritzers, waterfalls, fiber-optic lights. In the Castle pool, ask yourself where that water goes as it pours over the side and disappears.

Technology. Media rooms with huge TV screens and blow-you-away sound systems. Home automation systems that let you control the pool, sound system, lights, heating and cooling over the phone. In the Gray home, when you pick up a phone, the volume of the sound system automatically lowers in that room. Look for computer desks in several homes.

Fun stuff. Several homes have elaborate game rooms with pool tables and pinball machines. In the Gray home, look for the carpet in the children's bedroom upstairs with a train-track motif, and watch the electric train running on a shelf around the walls above your head in that room. Look for the play loft here also. Don't miss the pond with goldfish at the Castle house.

New building products. The Custom Craft/Rutenberg home uses a geothermal air-conditioning system in which tubes buried in the ground keep the cooling water at 72 degrees. The system uses no freon or condenser. This house has cement roof shingles that look like slate, a Jenn-air gas downdraft grill, a Jacuzzi "shower tower" combination shower and spa tub. On the tiled stairs, notice the built-in bullnose edge.

Think of the Street of Dreams as exactly that: a fantasy factory, an idea factory. It's also for a good cause: The Pediatric Care Center at University Community Hospital will receive a $10,000 donation from the Street of Dreams.

STREET OF DREAMS DETAILS

What: Showcase of six custom homes, ranging in price from $695,000 to almost $1-million, and in size from 4,880 to 6,864 square feet.

When: Today through Nov. 27. Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Closed Mondays and Thanksgiving Day.

Where: Avila, in Hillsborough County. Entrance off Crenshaw Lake Road; see map. Free parking; rest areas, beverages and food available.

Admission: Adults, $7; seniors and children 3-12, $6; under 3, free. Group rates available for 25 or more.

Benefits: Pediatric Care Center at University Community Hospital.

More information: (813) 962-2809.

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