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Meadow Pointe booms in "New Tampa'

The rate that roofs are being raised in the booming Meadow Pointe development has caught more than one person by surprise.

Even some people experienced at predicting the success of new subdivisions are scratching their heads at the 600 homes that have been built and occupied since the community on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard started two years ago.

Meadow Pointe was the fastest-growing development in Pasco County through August of this year, said Marvin Rose, author of Rose Residential Reports.

"I am amazed," said Pasco County Property Appraiser Ted Williams. "I didn't think it would do that well."

The prairie-like 1,821 acres just north of the Hillsborough County line isn't as attractive as land in other developments, Williams thought when the development was platted.

Despite that, "it's moving on in a big hurry," he said. "Meadow Pointe, they just keep on recording new subdivisions. And we are not talking about all el cheapo stuff either." The average house price is in the $110,000 range, the developer estimates.

Even Donald A. Buck, president of Devco Development Corp., the community's developer, is slightly surprised by it all.

"I would say we are selling at a faster rate than we had originally thought," Buck said. Barring a recession, and if the community continues selling homes at the current pace, all the single-family residential home sites will be developed within nine years from the start. They had thought it would take about 12, he said.

Buck said the community is about to expand its park and build a second clubhouse and swimming pool by next summer.

It may sound like a cliche, but the development was simply in the right place at the right time with the right product, Buck said.

Meadow Pointe offers homes, with some as low as $90,000, in an area where more expensive homes are selling well. Meadow Pointe's literature has linked itself with other Hillsborough subdivisions that are calling the area "New Tampa."

Tampa Palms and Hunter's Green, for instance, are only a few miles south on Bruce B. Downs in Hillsborough County. And in some nearby Hillsborough County subdivisions, the same models built by the same builders are sometimes selling for $10,000 less at Meadow Pointe.

"It's not that much more of a drive" to Meadow Pointe, said real estate agent Jacquie Ott of Prudential Florida. "They (buyers) can get more affordable housing and still have proximity to the city."

Ott, who was attending a party for realtors at Meadow Pointe on Thursday, said she has seen the same model home selling for $15,000 more in Hillsborough than in Pasco.

Coldwell Banker real estate agent Peggy Chupp, who was also among the guests at the party designed to show off Meadow Pointe's 12 new model homes in "New Tampa," mentioned an Atlantic Homes model in Meadow Pointe with more than 3,000 square feet of living area that is selling for about $180,000.

"You couldn't get that in Hillsborough or Pinellas for that," she said.

Buck said that impact fees are one reason that Meadow Pointe builders can charge less.

"Impact fees in Pasco County are $3,500 less than in Hillsborough County," Buck said.

Land costs can be less expensive too, as are property taxes. Still, Meadow Pointe buyers have to pay a community development district fee of $725 a year for the first phase.

But a lot of buyers who are interested in the area expect to pay such a fee anyway, said Ott.

Tampa Palms and several other communities have been developed as a community development districts. That means that the county gave the communities permission to sell bonds to pay for the community's streets, sewers, parks, community center. The residents will pay those bonds off over the years. The $725 fee at Meadow Pointe includes the cost of paying off those bonds as well as community maintenance.

At first, Buck was concerned that the fee would discourage buyers, but that hasn't happened.

"We have not had one complaint about the CDDs so far," Buck said. "People can see what they are getting for it."

Buck credits a lot of the community's success to the job base in the area.

Several office parks nearby, such as Hidden River, have been filling up. The university and several hospitals are within easy driving distance.

"And don't forget Busch Gardens," Buck said. "When you look at that, we are not that far out."