RUSKIN — In yet another sign of south Hillsborough County's explosive growth, Lennar has paid $17 million for a Ruskin site where it plans its first luxury waterfront homes in the Tampa Bay area.
The Miami-based company, one of the nation's biggest home builders, will resurrect the Little Harbor residential community just off U.S. 41 and Shell Point Road about 8 miles southwest of Apollo Beach.
The previous developer, Bahia Sun, built only seven of the 190 homes planned for the property before the market crashed in 2009.
"This area is ready for development and is surrounded by amenities that buyers want,'' Mark Metheny, division president of Lennar Central Florida, said in a statement Tuesday. "Little Harbor is a place where residents can have a home on the water, with saltwater access and a convenient location to get around the Tampa Bay area.''
Little Harbor has 183 remaining undeveloped home sites, most of them waterfront and able to accommodate their own docks and boat lifts with a seawall high enough to reduce flooding risks. The homes, ranging from 2,500 to more than 4,000 square feet, will cost from $400,000 to $700,000. Reflecting Lennar's "Everything's Included'' slogan, prices will include all kitchen appliances plus washer and dryer.
The first model home is expected to be completed in September.
Though hard hit by the housing bust, no other part of the Tampa Bay area has seen as much single-family home construction in the past year as the vast area of former groves and farm fields south of the Alafia River in Hillsborough.
Last year, a total of 7,545 new homes began construction in Pinellas, Pasco, Citrus, Hernando and Hillsborough counties. A third of those — 2,502 — were in south Hillsborough, or South Shore, as the area is called.
With its Little Harbor project, Lennar is trying to appeal to buyers who want luxury waterfront living at lower prices than in South Tampa, the Pinellas beaches and the downtown St. Petersburg area. Many buyers priced out of Sarasota and Naples also are looking at the southern part of Hillsborough.
Lennar currently is building in 17 non-waterfront communities in the area, including Waterleaf, Sereno and Waterset, as well as in nearly 30 communities elsewhere in the Tampa Bay region.
On Tuesday, the company reported earnings ahead of estimates as its orders for new homes nationwide jumped 10 percent in the second quarter of this year. Its stock, traded on the New York Stock Exchange as LEN, rose 3.7 percent in early trading to $48.29 but closed at $46.14, down 1.1 percent.
Contact Susan Taylor Martin at email@example.com or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.