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Places This Week: Snell Isle, Driftwood, Promenade

Margie Manning



New-to-town executive buys a home on Snell Isle.

A new-to-town executive settles in on Snell Isle. A live-work development on Central breaks ground. A south St. Petersburg apartment complex has a new owner. Economists speculate on a housing bubble.

Here’s this week’s real estate roundup.

Welcome mat

Shortly after Fresh Encounter bought 51 Save A Lot stores in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area in late December, the CEO of the Ohio-based company told the Tampa Bay Times he planned to move his family here. Michael Needler Jr. made good on his promise. Needler and his wife, Bethany, bought a Snell Isle home on Feb. 16, according to a deed filed in Pinellas County.  The 4,765-square-foot home, with five bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms, sold for $3.4 million.

Grand Central development

Buyers are showing a lot of interest in Driftwood on Central, a live-work development in the Historic Kenwood neighborhood. Eight of the 11 units have sold, said Nick Janovsky from Premier Sotheby’s International Realty’s St. Petersburg office. The project broke ground Feb. 16, after St. Pete Development Co., headed by Julie B. Kessel, got a $3.85 million construction loan from Pilot Bank, Pinellas County records show.

Feb. 16 groundbreaking for Driftwood on Central

Apartment deal

Reserve at Lake Point Apartments, a massive apartment community in south St. Petersburg, has a new name and a new owner. The 806-unit complex at 5800 Lynn Lake Dr. S. has been renamed Promenade Apartment Homes.

It was acquired as part of a $1.75 billion deal by Morgan Properties and Olayan America. The two companies partnered to buy the North Star Portfolio, made up of 14,414 apartment units in 11 states, from STAR Real Estate Ventures, a joint venture between El-Ad National Properties, LLC and Yellowstone Portfolio Trust.

Other local properties included in the deal are:

• Melrose on the Bay Apartment Homes, 16321 Bolesta Rd., Clearwater, 358 units

• Park at Lake Magdalene Apartments & Townhomes, 2727 W. Fletcher Ave., Tampa, 504 units

• Tuscany Pointe at Tampa Apartment Homes, 3350 W. Hillsborough Ave., Tampa, 304 units

A study by CommercialSearch found that the Tampa-St. Pete area is among the hottest markets in the country for apartment deals, with nearly $22 billion in multifamily sales and 873 deals completed between 2009 and 2020. In 2020 alone, there were 60 deals in the metro area.

Business park sells

Genet Property Group, a south Florida based commercial real estate firm, bought Waterside Business Center in Clearwater. GBA Clearwater 284 LLC, an entity associated with Genet, paid $23.6 million for the property in a deal that closed Feb. 11, Pinellas County records show. The seller was Ciminelli Real Estate Services, which had owned the property since August 2019. The eight-building industrial office park has a mix of office, warehouse and production space and is located at 13100-13191 56th Court, just south of Ulmerton Road.

Housing bubble

A recent sharp run-up in house prices resemble the early days of the housing bubble 15 years ago. But many of the hallmarks of that bubble— loose lending standards, lax oversight and rampant speculation — are not currently present, economists from Wells Fargo Securities wrote in a Feb. 22 report.

“We do not believe that a major correction in home prices, at least not on the order of 2006-2012, is in the offing anytime soon,” the report said.

The rise in house prices has been driven in large part by the Covid-19 pandemic, the report said. There was a sudden increase in demand for housing, as more people worked and learned from home. At the same time, many millennials are having children and buying homes and low mortgage rates have reduced the cost of financing a home purchase. Yet there are fewer sellers, as baby boomers hold on to their properties. A moratorium on foreclosures also means here are fewer properties on the market.

The median home price nationwide is $300,000, about 50 percent higher than at the peak of the bubble in 2006, as prices surged about 15 percent from Q4 2019 to Q4 2020.

Even if home prices were to suddenly drop, the risk to the economy is fairly minimal, the report said.

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