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Trinity adds development for seniors

Published Oct. 2, 2005

U.S. Home Corp. will build a 1,400-home retirement community in southwest Pasco County modeled on its successful Timber Pines development in Spring Hill.

The 700-acre golf course community, called Heritage Springs, will be in the Trinity development, in Pasco County north of East Lake. U.S. Home is building a similar community just south of County Line Road in northern Pasco.

The company has opened a sales center and is building model centers at the Trinity site, which is east of the Fox Hollow golf course.

"This is very much a done deal," said Bob Fertig, North Florida division president for U.S. Home of Houston. "This is a major development right on the north border of Pinellas County. . . . It's an ideal location for active adults. They like the idea of being in the suburbs but close to the restaurants, to Ruth Eckerd Hall and the beaches."

U.S. Home has signed an agreement to buy the 700 acres from Adam Smith Enterprises, the developer of Trinity and one of several companies controlled by Tarpon Springs eye surgeon James Gills.

The land would be bought in phases, with the first acquisition in January, Fertig said. Neither company would discuss the financial terms of the deal.

Land development should begin in the spring; housing construction would start in the summer, Fertig said. Housing, mostly single-family homes, would range from the low $100,000s for villas to $200,000 for luxury Rutenberg homes.

"U.S. Home has a reputation for doing real high-quality, active-lifestyle communities, and that's what we wanted to have," said Lew Friedland, president of Adam Smith Enterprises. "We're excited to have them as our partners."

The retirement community is part of Trinity, the $1.5-billion, 4,000-acre development where about 5,100 homes are already approved and planned. Trinity has sold 800 homes, Friedland said. U.S. Home already does some building at Trinity.

Marvin Rose, a Tarpon Springs real estate market consultant, said the retiree development makes sense for both businesses: U.S. Home wants to replicate the success of Timber Pines, its award-winning 3,400-home development in Spring Hill that is almost complete; Trinity needs to diversify its product.

"It's a lifestyle that the younger, more active retirees are flocking to," Rose said. "It's certainly a wave of the future for Pasco County."

Heritage Springs, a gated community, would be restricted to residents 55 and older. (Up to 20 percent of the housing would be available for those 50 and older).

"It's specifically for active adults whose children have grown up and who want to really start enjoying their lives," Fertig said.

Plans for the $250-million, seven-year project include an 18-hole championship golf course designed by Ron Garl, four tennis courts and an 18,500-square-foot clubhouse with a restaurant, private performing arts center, fitness room and computer center.

Heritage Springs is part of Trinity's "Development of Regional Impact" plan that the county approved, said Fred Lowndes, county zoning administrator.

U.S. Home is the nation's biggest builder of retiree country club developments. The company has developed several in the Tampa Bay area, including Highland Lakes in Palm Harbor and Heritage Lake and Timber Oaks, both in Pasco.

_ Times staff writer Katherine Snow Smith contributed to this report.