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Townhouses may call Beverly Hills home

This central Citrus County community made up almost completely of rows and rows of individual houses might get its first townhouse complex, following a trail blazed by the community's first apartment complex, which opened last year.

The development represents a further shift of the housing market in static Beverly Hills, a community of more than 8,000, which was created in the 1970s as a working-class retirement haven with small, simple block affordable homes.

But over the years, many of the seniors who live there and elsewhere in Citrus County have lost spouses and found it difficult to care for yards and several square feet of extra bedrooms and bathrooms.

They would prefer to live in more apartments, townhouses and duplexes, as would many of the young residents who work in Citrus' large service sector.

But Citrus County has the second-highest home ownership rate in Florida, county Community Development Director Chuck Dixon said, meaning there's not much rental housing available.

That situation wasn't a problem because buying a home in Citrus was cheap.

"But that's changing," he said.

Enter Remington Co., based near Orlando, which received approval from the Citrus County Planning and Development Review Board on Thursday to change the use of several acres for two development projects. In the first, developers want to build about 300 homes on 58 acres bordered by the Twisted Oaks golf course. The original plans for the site, which date back to 1981 and were changed Thursday, would have allowed about 400 homes there.

The other project is a 165-unit townhouse complex, which would be built on 16 acres bordered by Roosevelt Boulevard and Forest Ridge Boulevard, just east of Beverly Hills County Park. Construction would begin in about a year.

The complex would be the second multifamily project of its type in Beverly Hills, following Marina del Ray, a 100-unit apartment complex for low-income seniors, which opened last year and drew hundreds of applicants. An earlier incarnation of the project had been fought vigorously by Beverly Hills residents, many of whom were concerned that apartments would open the door to crime in their community.

But Marina del Ray seems to have won nearly everyone over.

"It proved the demand is there," said Steve Neveleff, a Remington Co. associate.

"There are a lot of widowed people who don't need the hassle of a single-family home."

The company's project would cater to seniors as well as snowbirds who want maintenance-free vacation homes, he said.

The project received support from Clark Stillwell, an Inverness land-use attorney, who spoke out in support on behalf of a surrounding Beverly Hills neighborhood.

Justin George can be reached at (352) 860-7309 or jgeorgesptimes.com.

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