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Gulf site to get town houses

The longstanding question of what to do with a 26,000-square-foot former restaurant on the Gulf of Mexico has been answered: Tear it down and build town houses.

Developer Robert Swain bought the former Fast Eddie's restaurant Friday. He plans to tear down the building and build 40 luxury town houses in a $6-million project to be called Tarpon Pointe.

The building at 1580 Klosterman Road housed Fast Eddie's for a decade and Orlan's restaurant for a year. It has been vacant since 1994.

Swain, head of Tarpon Pointe Development Corp., said he at first considered renovating the building and turning it into town houses, but decided the best use for the 3.5-acre parcel would be to start over again.

Plans call for six three-story buildings, with tile roofs and stucco in a Mediterranean style. Each unit will have about 1,900 square feet, with a garage on the first floor.

The units will have high ceilings, wooden cabinets and tile floors and will sell for about $200,000 each. The property already has 26 boat slips.

Swain said zoning regulations would allow as many as 53 town houses on the property, but he decided that would make the development too crowded. He hopes to start construction this summer and finish by the end of the year.

He declined to say how much he paid for the property. It was listed for sale earlier this year for $1.4-million, which was down from $3.9-million when Orlan's closed in 1994.

The property was assessed for tax purposes at $1.4-million. The property appraiser's office says assessed values generally are 85 percent of market values.

The contemporary building was owned by Tarpon Holdings Ltd., a real estate investment trust based in Dallas. The trust bought the building after a bank foreclosed on the property.

Residents of nearby condominiums had complained about the noise from the building when it was used as a restaurant. "You'd hear, "Browns, party of six,' over the loudspeaker," said LaVerne Stern, who lives in a condominium nearby and whose On Site Realty will market the town houses.

Some neighbors also have complained about the building being vacant. The town homes will be "a real plus for this neighborhood," Stern said.

Swain recently completed two years as president of American Landmark Homes, which built houses in Pennsylvania and Florida. Their projects include the River Watch subdivision in Tarpon Springs.

_ Information from Times files was used in this report.