What might turn into the largest single-family home development in St. Petersburg in more than a decade broke ground this week.
KB Homes' Lakewood Shores project off 31st Street S and bordered by 50th Avenue S and Maximo Elementary School will include 30 homes priced between $159,000 and $200,000.
KB Homes expects to hold the grand opening in the next month, once the model home is built on the 10-acre site, and hopes to sell four to five houses a month. The site has no room for expansion.
A subdivision with 30 homes doesn't sound like much compared with the boom-boom building era of the early to mid 2000s, when builders erected that many houses each week in some Tampa Bay counties. But little of that frenzied single-family home building occurred in St. Petersburg.
Only 2 percent of Pinellas County, the most densely populated county in the state, is vacant, developable land. Clusters of new homes don't pop up often in the city, said Rick Dunn, St. Petersburg's top building official.
He said it has been possibly 15 years or longer since 30 new single-family homes were built on one parcel in the southern partof St. Petersburg.
"This opportunity going on is very unique," Dunn said. "We're excited."
Why would a company build a new subdivision in a struggling housing market? And how will it avoid becoming another housing development that starts with a bang but fizzles as sales fail to materialize?
"St. Petersburg is a very desirable location," said George Glance, a KB Homes division president for Central Florida. "There is a very, very limited supply of new homes. The value is amazing. The land for new homes is limited."
KB Homes acquired the land from Apple Homes, one of St. Petersburg's oldest builders.
The sizes of the built-to-order homes range from 1,684 to 2,964 square feet. Each home comes with three to four bedrooms or more and two or more bathrooms. Buyers can expect to move in four to five months after purchasing the homes.
Glance said he isn't concerned about the glut of foreclosed and cheap houses on the market. The company hopes to attract buyers with energy-efficient upgrades and a 10-year warranty - incentives that sellers of older homes can't match. You never know what is behind the walls in existing homes, he said.
The new homes, he said, are priced to compete.
"Buyers will be getting a tremendous house," Glance said.
Mark Puente can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8459. Follow him at Twitter at twitter.com/markapuente.