Why are some Tampa Bay waterfront homes selling for millions to be demolished?

Forget the stunning mansions overlooking the Tampa Bay waterfront. Empty plots are the hottest deals in town right now.

Vacant land in waterfront neighborhoods is quite scarce – especially in Pinellas, one of Florida’s most densely developed counties – and buyers are willing to pay much more for a blank slate than a ready-to-move-in home, say real estate agents.

This is why the officers notice a tendency towards the demolition of the old residences at the edge of the water. Then the property is sold for a higher price to a buyer looking to build something more modern from scratch.

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This property at 121 Bay Point Drive on Snell Isle in St. Petersburg was recently sold for $ 5.5 million and sits next to vacant land. [ BOYZELL HOSEY | Boyzell Hosey ]

For example, the Richard W. Strefling Revocable Trust purchased four properties on Bay Point Drive in Snell Isle between 2017 and 2021, according to county records. Strefling was the chairman of Dynamax, a motorhome and motorhome manufacturer that was acquired in 2011 by a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary of Warren E. Buffett.

The packages were sold for very high amounts, with sales ranging from $ 2 million to $ 5.5 million. Two of the houses were demolished.

The two demolished homes were initially sold for a combined $ 5.4 million. Now both lots are vacant and the 31,000 square feet are listed as one for almost $ 17 million through Premier Sotheby’s International Realty.

A glimpse shows the location of four homes purchased by the Richard W. Strefling Trust at Bay Point Drive, St. Petersburg.  Two were demolished.
A glimpse shows the location of four homes purchased by the Richard W. Strefling Trust at Bay Point Drive, St. Petersburg. Two were demolished. [ Google Maps ]

This is a 200% increase over the original value if sold at the listed price. It could also be one of the most expensive residential sales in the Tampa Bay area so far this year – worth even higher than the Tampa home of Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, which sold for $ 16 million.

“This rare opportunity is for this special buyer looking for the ultimate trophy land on which to build an extraordinary home,” the listing describes online. “It has a breathtaking view.”

The trend to buy vacant land is happening all over Florida, particularly in Palm Beach County, said Robyn Gunn, the Sotheby’s agent representing the Snell Isle land. Now, potential buyers are taking a closer look at the Gulf Coast and finding good value in the market, she said.

A rendering of a contemporary home on 16124 Gulf Boulevard in Redington Beach.  The sale of the property is pending although construction is not complete.
A rendering of a contemporary home on 16124 Gulf Boulevard in Redington Beach. The sale of the property is pending although construction is not complete. [ Courtesy of Coldwell Banker Realty ]

Real estate prices have skyrocketed during the pandemic due to a shortage of inventory and a number of out-of-state buyers. Take Derek Jeter’s house in Tampa, for example, which sold for a record $ 22.5 million. With a shortage of homes available, some buyers are willing to pay more for the chance to build their dream home, Gunn said.

Last year, vacant land in the Davis Islands sold for $ 11 million, eclipsing the most expensive home sale in Tampa Bay from 2020, which was a Clearwater estate bought for over $ 9 million. of dollars.

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The types of buyers interested in waterfront lots like this have deep pockets and a specific design in mind for their future home, Gunn said. The ‘in’ style of wealthy Florida homeowners was once the Mediterranean style – a Spanish architectural movement that exploded in the early 1900s and is heavily influenced by South Florida architect Addison Mizner – but this is emerging. switch.

“We have seen an increase in the appeal of the contemporary for several years now. Gunn said. “And we haven’t been able to keep up with the demand.

The historic Kellogg Mansion in Dunedin, once owned by the Corn Flakes man of fame, has been on sale for seven years and has received no bites. After failing to secure a historic designation, Dunedin recently approved the demolition of the almost century-old Mediterranean house.

The Kellogg Mansion, overlooking St. Joseph Sound in Dunedin, was said to have been Pinellas County's largest real estate transaction in 1934 when the eclectic jazz-era home was purchased by grain mogul WK Kellogg and his wife Carrie.
The Kellogg Mansion, overlooking St. Joseph Sound in Dunedin, was said to have been Pinellas County’s largest real estate transaction in 1934 when the eclectic jazz-era home was purchased by grain mogul WK Kellogg and his wife Carrie. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

Jennifer Zales, luxury real estate specialist at Coldwell Banker Realty, said she has also seen demand for contemporary homes. Especially contemporary coastal homes, which are less angular than the modern architectural styles popular in California.

A contemporary home under construction on Gulf Boulevard in Redington Beach listed at $ 7.95 million is already under contract, although there is still no roof.

Zales also represents two waterfront lots for sale in Tampa, listed for $ 8 million each, on Martinique Avenue in Davis Islands and not far from Stamkos’ former home.

“There are a lot of people looking to be in this particular place,” Zales said. “This is why the values ​​are much higher.”

And there is another factor that increases the price of empty waterfront properties: the risk of flooding.

“A lot of the homes that were built earlier are not being built according to the new FEMA flood maps,” Zales said. “So when they make the decision to renovate a house or demolish it for a vacant lot, a lot of people look to the future. “

The waterfront view of two empty lots for sale for $ 8 million each on 92 and 94 Martinique Avenue in the Davis Islands of Tampa.
The waterfront view of two empty lots for sale for $ 8 million each on 92 and 94 Martinique Avenue in the Davis Islands of Tampa. [ Courtesy of Coldwell Banker Realty ]

The Federal Emergency Management Administration’s updated flood insurance rate map went into effect on August 24. Many homeowners need to assess whether their home is up to date or not, Zales said. For some properties, it’s cheaper to tear down the house that’s already there and start over, she said.

One of Zales’s listings is a partially remodeled Tampa home on Adalia Avenue listed for nearly $ 3.7 million. She said it would also likely be demolished.

Zales said she always tells her clients, “It all starts with the earth and everything is guided by the earth. Whether there is a house on it or not.

About Lillian Coomer

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