1. Business

Condo craze spreads to Tierra Verde

This rendering, which depicts the view from a first-floor unit’s balcony, looks northwest across the Intracoastal Waterway toward Pass-a-Grille in St. Pete Beach.
Published Jul. 7, 2015

TIERRA VERDE — A condo development on a barrier island off Tierra Verde that was stalled during the recession is moving back to the front burner with different owners. Four Tierra Verde businessmen are planning Sunset Pointe at Collany Key, a cluster of 120 condos priced between $900,000 and $1.3 million.

"When they bought (the property in 2012) they didn't have any definite plans. You wouldn't have even thought about a condo project because we were still fresh out of the recession," said Mark Stroud, who is managing Sunset Pointe's development and sales. "They figured the worst-case scenario would be they split it up and sell it as residential lots. Subsequent to that … the condo market started coming back."

With more than 350 condos slated for downtown St. Petersburg, Tierra Verde is a natural spillover for construction and homeowners. Stroud said the location will appeal to buyers interested in the city's thriving waterfront on the bay as well as those who want to be near the beach. He expects homes will be full-time and seasonal residences.

The 19-acre island, Collany Key, is connected to Tierra Verde with a land bridge and is next to Shell Key Preserve.

The investment group that owns the property is made up of developer Pat Walsh, Bob Menke, former chairman of Bankers Insurance Group, Gary Eng, a veteran in the software and technology industry and Michael Cannova, who had a stake in Bank of St. Petersburg and is now co-owner and president of Marlow Yachts in Palmetto. They paid $8.6 million for the property at a bank auction in 2012.

"These are investors who live on Tierra Verde, so they wanted to make sure they would get in and build something that is quality," Stroud said. "We've been whispering it to people and there are already a lot of people interested in it."

Stroud, who is considered an expert in land sales and development, was hired by Bill Edwards in early 2014 to oversee the Edwards Group's real estate ventures. He said he recently left the company in an amicable split after deciding there were more projects he wanted to be involved in beyond Edwards' ventures.

The previous ownership group bought Collany Key for $2.8 million in 1992 and was planning condos. They eventually secured a permit from the Southwest Water Management District, put in utilities for plumbing and electricity, but then couldn't get a construction loan as banks saw dark days ahead, according to Stroud.

"They built a retaining wall around the island, had a security gate installed. They presold the first building. They got it right down to the wire, then the crash hit," he said.

The current owners paid cash for the property and are securing financing for construction. A sales office is opening within days.

If sales are steady, construction could start in October. Stroud said there is no minimum number of units that must be sold to start building, but enough for the developers and bank to "feel comfortable."

The condos will be three bedroom and three and a half baths, ranging in size from 2,721 square feet to 2,939 square feet. Plans call for four buildings with 30 residences each. The first floor will be parking, with five floors of condos above.

All units will offer water views, many from almost every window.

Paul Murray, president of the Tierra Verde Community Association, is pleased with the project. The annual fees the 100-plus homeowners will pay to the association will help defray the costs of landscaping and lighting on Tierra Verde, he said.

"We're happy about it. It's very attractive," he said. "We are glad they are going to pay for their fair share of the island."

Katherine Snow Smith can be contacted at Follow @snowsmith.


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