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Hard-to-find lots on bay centerpiece of auction

Anyone interested in buying a rare waterfront lot in St. Petersburg will have a chance Saturday when an auctioneer leads a sale on land with a view of Tampa Bay.

Starting at 11 a.m., seven lots go on the block at the tip of Sunshine Skyway Lane S. It's a small byway serving residents of several condominiums within eyeshot of the bridge linking Pinellas and Manatee counties.

Each of five waterfront lots and two with a water view could sell for $225,000 to $250,000, said Jennifer Clement, an employee of Higgenbotham Auctioneers, a company based in Lakeland that is handling the sale.

The lots average 90 by 130 feet, Clement said.

Most of the interest has been from people considering single-family houses on the property, which is how the tract is zoned, said Anthony Jaquinto, one of the owners. Jaquinto, who is with Re/Max Realty, said he also has represented the owner of the other lots, HJK Investments Inc.

The owners hope to get the lots sold either separately or as packages. Jaquinto said he has had them listed for about a year, but "I wouldn't call it a hard sell."

Paradise Pointe, the name given to the tip of land where the lots are situated, has a wide view of Tampa Bay and the Sunshine Skyway.

"It's one of the only places in Pinellas where you can watch the sun come up and go down over open water," Jaquinto said.

A possible downside is the proximity of a small bridge directly west of the property.

"That seems to be something we hear once in a while," Jaquinto said. "But as property becomes more and more valuable, obstacles like that tend to be not so important."

Higgenbotham Auctioneers, which has a branch office in Clearwater, has been conducting auctions for nearly 40 years, usually of real estate. It held one late last year at the restaurant and bar 10 Beach Drive in St. Petersburg, where equipment and memorabilia were sold.

Typically, the show features the traditional, quick-talking auctioneer taking escalating bids from the crowd. Higgenbotham's Michael Peters will do the job Saturday.

"I've heard him go through the motions," Jaquinto said. "It's a regular gavel-type thing."

About 100 people are expected, Clement said. The owners will have the right to approve or reject the highest bid before a sale is final, she said, and contract signings and down payments can be made at the site.