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Tampa Bay Community News

Smith & Associates

We at Smith & Associates Real Estate are continuing to add to our development portfolio with downtown St Pete’s newest offering, The Sage, which boasts “Affordable Urban Luxury”. Located in the heart of downtown St. Petersburg, The Sage offers carefree elegance with 1, 2 and 3 bedroom condominium homes starting at $300K. With a focus on service, there is a doorman on hand nightly & on the weekends waiting to welcome residents home. St. Petersburg boasts an average of 361 days of sunshine giving it the name the “Sunshine City.” Residents can take advantage of these sunny days by lounging at the rooftop pool with sundeck and grilling area. Floor to ceiling panoramic views brings the vibrancy of the city right into your home.

sage-st-pete “We believe The Sage has some of the best values in condominium luxury living in downtown St. Pete.  This value coupled with extremely limited inventory in downtown makes The Sage an incredible opportunity for those looking for the luxury urban lifestyle.” Dave Traynor, Smith & Associates Real Estate’s Vice President of Developer Services.

With its growing culinary scene, chic nightlife, and network of parks and trails along the shoreline of Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg, FL is reinventing itself as THE city to live and work. In fact, the New York Times listed St. Petersburg as one the “Top 50 Places to GO in 2014”, a list that included famed urban destinations like Dubai and Aspen. The ability to shop and dine out in downtown St. Pete continues to expand with the recently opened SunDial. St. Petersburg’s growth is reflective of the urban shift that is happening around the country, as more and more people are moving away from the suburbs and into urban centers that offer culture and the ability to walk everywhere.

Smith & Associates Real Estate encourages you to “Rediscover The Sage” and will have agents on site every day from 12-5 to share the beauty of this contemporary building with residents looking to join the ‘Burg. An Open House will be held Sunday, July 20, 2014 from 12-4 PM, so please join us! And if you have any questions, feel free to contact us today!

Open House Info
The Sage Open House
400 4th Avenue South
JULY 20, 2014 12-4 PM

Nikki Phillips

By some estimates, 70 to 80% of all “no’s” in a real estate transaction happen before the potential buyers even get out of the car. They literally make the decision before they ever set foot on the property. That means curb appeal is one of the most important aspects of preparing your home before putting it on the market.

Grey Small Cute House With White Fence And Gates.
With that in mind, here are 4 simple ways to spruce up your façade and give that welcome mat some real meaning.

#1 | Clean it up

You might be astonished how much a little elbow grease, and maybe a pressure washer, can do to amp up your curb appeal. Those dingy walls and occasional webs or leaves or dirt that you don’t really even notice anymore? You can bet your potential buyer will see it. Cleaning it off might take an hour or two, but it could literally make the difference between a sale and a “no thanks,” and could earn you thousands at the closing table.

#2 | Add some terrific trim

If your house already has quality trim work, you should at least clean and paint it before putting your home on the market. But if your property looks a little plain, you might be surprised what a bit of trim could do. Just some accents around the door or windows or maybe a little rail fence around your front stoop could increase the warmth as well as the perceived value of your property.

#3 | Quality by the numbers

One of the simplest ways to upgrade the curb appeal of your home is to update the house numbers. They might just need a bit of touchup paint, but if you have brass or wooden numbers that have seen better days, replacing them is a great way to add curb appeal easily and cheaply. Here’s a pro tip – if you do get new numbers, make sure you have enough touchup paint for your exterior wall. After removing the numbers you will need to sand the area and repaint before installing the new numbers.

#4 | A splash of color

Front doors or trim work can be a terrific place to add some color to an otherwise comfortably neutral façade. Or consider placing flowering plants on either side of the front door and a nice, new welcome mat that just begs people to Come On Inside!

An honest assessment

Okay, let’s get really, really real for a moment. When was the last time you took a long, hard critical look at your front yard? How do the plants really look? What about the paint on the mailbox or the condition of that brick surrounded flowerbed you installed a few years back? How long would it take you to come up with a small list of things that “could” look better? Bushes that could use trimming, flowerbeds that could use weeding, a few patchy spots where a little grass seed could go a long way… these little touches could mean the difference between “let’s take a look” and “next please” in the minds of your potential buyers.

Amy Seeks

Q:  I’m considering a vacation home in Tampa Bay or an investment property in Tampa Bay but I don’t know where to begin. I don’t want to move ahead without knowing all of the right questions to ask and things to consider. Is now the right time?

Old Style Question And Answer
Now is a terrific time to buy. Interest rates are still low, and the prices are still very reasonable. So, if you are considering making the leap, here are a few things you should consider:

First, consider the actual costs and your potential return on investment. There are still some successful “flippers” out there, but most real estate investors these days are more interested in long-term investments or enjoying an additional property as a second home. Whatever your reasons for wanting a second home, understand that the purchase – and eventual sales – price should only be the beginning of your considerations. Maintenance and upkeep will be an issue. As will hiring someone to take care of the property for you when you are not around.

Next, think about the tax implications of owning a second property. No homestead exemption in most cases, and income properties can change both your tax status and what you will need to file. It’s a good practice to talk with your CPA before signing that new home contract.

Then there’s the insurance considerations. If your home is in a different flood zone, you might find yourself getting a bit of a surprise. Also, your second home may different or additional amenities that require different addendum to your insurance policy. Geography and items such as docks, detached garages and even swimming pools can drastically alter your insurance policies and payments.

What about a mortgage? Well, mortgage requirements and financing opportunities for second home buyers are more varied and available than you might think. Lenders essentially look for the same things on a second home loan that they look for on the first, with the obvious difference that your debt-to-income ratio will be tighter due to your current home loan (if you have one). Beyond that, expect to need to have at least ten percent, but more likely 20 percent, to put down on the property.

Once you are sure you are sure, it’s time to scout the market for a likely property. Step one is to sit down and make a list of all the characteristics and amenities you are looking for, as well as the style of house and location. Make a different list for each of these questions and rank your answers from most important to least important. This list will not only help you decide what is or is not a deal breaker, but it will also prove invaluable to the Tampa Bay buyer’s agent helping you find your property. An hour making a list could save hours of searching time later.

Happy shopping! Feel free to contact us for help finding your dream home in Tampa Bay!

Smith & Associates

Infrastructure dreamers have been talking about it for years, but it seems that commuter train service has (finally) arrived in Central Florida. The debate over light rail has been fierce and ongoing, but, recently the region unveiled its fist mass rail transit system.

According to a report in the Tampa Tribune, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs told a celebratory crowd at the grand opening event that “SunRail is absolutely going to change the way we live. It’s truly going to change the way we get to work!”

Portland Max
The first passengers were able to take a ride in early May, riding for free the first two weeks. Now, tickets are sold for individual rides or loaded onto SunCards, that allow for multiple rides, similar to the toll road SunPass. The opening was a red-letter day for anyone interested in the fortunes of the I-4 Tourist Corridor from Orlando to Greater Tampa Bay.

Not too long ago the dream of light rail seemed dead in the water, after Governor Rick Scott refused more than $2 billion dollars in federal funding that could have connected Tampa and Orlando via rail. Then, a few months later and not without much hesitation, Scott changed his mind – to a point. He approved a deal that allowed construction for SunRail after planners convinced him it was a good jobs program with the ongoing potential to reduce gridlock on I-4.

While the initial 32-mile stretch of SunRail is much less grand than the original plan, everyone seems to acknowledge that this project will be the region’s largest mass transit gambit.

For any future SunRail extensions to have any hope of happening any time soon, it’s likely this section would have to at least meet expectations. Central Florida is a tourist zone. We depend heavily on people who come to stay and to play.

The world-class destinations and entertainment amenities in Orlando, Kissimmee, Tampa, St. Pete and Clearwater are one of the major reasons many people come to Florida – and choose to stay. A light rail will not only make these attractions more accessible to visitors, but they will increase the ease with which residents enjoy these amenities yearround.

For those in support of mass transit, they may not have gotten all they wanted in this project, but it is a foot in the door. Progress sometimes moves slowly at the political level, but it does have a certain inertia. Once begun, it often continues. A few years from now we may be talking about the new “Tampa-Orlando line, currently underway” that could connect Universal with Clearwater Beach. Who knows, Greenlight Pinellas could be a good start!

What do you think? When do you foresee a rail making its way from Orlando to Tampa?

Bob Glaser

They may have been hit hard in the recent recession, but those coveted beach properties along the Pinellas coastlines are already making a big comeback. In her annual estimate released in May, Pinellas Property Appraiser Pam Dubov announced that taxable values in many areas along the beach are expected to increase as much as seven percent.

Skyline of St. Petersburg, Florida
Add that number to the overall real estate value picture in Pinellas and values for the entire county are up 5.6 percent, the second consecutive year of increases across the county’s 24 municipalities.

Values were up pretty much across the board. Pinellas Park came in on the low end, with a four percent increase, but Redington Beach doubled that with an eight percent showing. St. Petersburg property values increased by seven percent.

All these increases are tremendous news considering that the county is coming out of an extended downturn, in which values dropped for five straight years, from 2008 through 2012. Last year, the average increase in Pinellas was three percent, which makes the nearly six percent growth in an increase on the increase!

Tampa Bay Real Estate Professionals believe the increase simply proves the age-old maxim – despite occasional downturns, real estate makes an outstanding long-term investment.

These increases are just being measured for existing properties. The new construction market is, once again, exploding. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the 2014 tax rolls estimate upwards of $298 million in new construction, roughly a 40 percent increase over 2013.

Much of that new construction is being credited to the changing face of downtowns in Clearwater and St. Petersburg. New high-rise luxury condominiums are being constructed in some of the most sought after locations along the waterfront urban areas, creating new residential centers and redefining what it means to enjoy life on the Pinellas peninsula.

Best of all, some are saying that these increases are even higher than some city officials expected, meaning that, in places such as St. Petersburg, budget deficits are shrinking even as property values rise. The Times reported that Mayor Rik Kriseman sent out a memo to the City Council stating the budget deficit has gone from $4.15 million to $1.35 million, and some St. Pete city officials are insinuating that the city may well be operating in the black very soon. This healthy fiscal situation means good things across the board for St. Petersburg. Better amenities and infrastructure and more interest from cultural and real estate developers.

Better still, the county find itself in an even greater situation, with an additional million added to the general fund’s expected surplus. That means countywide improvements, budget reserves and long overdue projects perhaps seeing the light of day. Good news for legislators and real estate pros, and greater news for folks lucky enough to call Pinellas home.

Amy Seeks

So much of what makes a house a home has to do with who you go home to. Family, friends, those people who transform wood and bricks into a place where love is present and memories are made. The days may just seem like days, and the stresses can get to all of us, but in the end, a home is defined by what happens there and who those things happen with.

LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 08: Maroon 5 at the 16th Annual Environme Then, sometimes, you mess up. Or they do. And the home you are building just doesn’t feel quite like home, until you can make it right again. That emotion is the driving force behind the Maroon 5 megahit, “Won’t Go Home Without You.” The third single off Maroon 5’s second album, “It Won’t Be Soon Before Long,” the single hit the charts in 2007 and instantly won a legion of fans, reaching #3 on the US Adult Pop and #14 on the Adult Contemporary Billboard Charts, and was a favorite during Maroon 5’s 2007 “It Won’t Be Soon Before Long” tour.

The song was written by Maroon 5 frontman, Adam Levine and Produced by Mike Elizondo, Mark Stent and Maroon 5.

It’s one of those simple and sad love songs that remind you to think before you speak, not to sweat the small stuff and to remember just how empty a home can feel when you push the love away. Levine’s lyrics are the lament of a guy who has waited far too long to say all the things he should have said and who has said far too many of the wrong things. Now, he simply can’t go home unless she forgives him and goes with him.

“I asked her to stay but she wouldn’t listen
She left before I had the chance to say
The words that would mend the things that were broken
But now it’s far too late, she’s gone away

Every night you cry yourself to sleep
Thinking: “Why does this happen to me?
Why does every moment have to be so hard?”
Hard to believe that

It’s not over tonight
Just give me one more chance to make it right
I may not make it through the night
I won’t go home without you…”

For Levine, the story ends there. In the video he makes his way across the city searching for his lost love only to find her with someone else. Not exactly the Hollywood ending fans might want to see, but that’s how it can happen sometimes.

But, contrary to Levine’s question, times really don’t have to be so hard. A home is made of those happy times with family and friends. Parties where laughter fills up the place. The grill going out back and huge platters of delicious morsels spread out on a long buffet tables.

Those moments when the kids are small and they seem to, by themselves, fill up the house with the busy noises of children at play.

Then there are those priceless, quiet little moments, where nothing is said but everyone is comfortable. Being together, whether “it’s all happening” or absolutely “nothing’s going on” … priceless moments that make a house a home.

For more Real Estate + Music fun click here!

Mary Lou Gordon

Tampa Bay is world renown for its tourism industry, and for good reason. Gorgeous beaches, scintillating theme parks, intriguing state parks, top sports and world-class arts and entertainment. Taken together, the Tampa Bay area is definitely a “destination” destination.

But, live here for very long, and you will notice something else about the Tampa-St. Pete- Clearwater area. It is also a hotbed for agriculture. There are farms, large and small, all over the place. And with those farms come Farmer’s Markets, fresh produce and wonderful selections for picnic baskets and dinner tables. Strawberries, blueberries, every kind of citrus fruit, and more vegetables than you can imagine are all here for the taking. And, depending on the season, you might just find them for sale on the side of the road on your way home from work!

Organic vegetables on a stand at a farmers market with a sign re But where is the best Farmer’s Markets in the Greater Tampa Bay area? Here’s a great list courtesy of


Sweetwater Sunday Organic Market | Sweetwater Community Farm
6942 W. Comanche Avenue, Tampa, Florida
Open: November through May, Sundays, Noon to 4:00 p.m.
(813) 887-4066

Tampa Downtown Market | Lykes Gaslight Square Park
400 and 500 Block Franklin Street and 200 and 300 Madison Street, 
Tampa, Florida
Open: Mid-October through Mid-May, Fridays, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
(813) 649-8747

Tampa Wholesale Produce Market
2801 East Hillsborough Avenue Tampa, Florida
Open year-round, Monday through Saturday from 3:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Telephone: (813) 237-3314

Ybor City Saturday Market | Centennial Park
The corner of Eighth Avenue and 19th Street, Ybor City Tampa, Florida
Open: Year-round, Saturdays, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Rain or shine
(813) 241-2442


Downtown Clearwater Farmers’ Market | Downtown on Cleveland Street
The 500 block, Clearwater, Florida
Open: Mid-October through May, Wednesdays, 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
(727) 461-7674

Dunedin Green Market | Pioneer Park
The corner of Main Street and Douglas Ave, Dunedin, Florida
Open: Mid-October through April, Fridays, 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
(727) 733-4215

Gulfport Tuesday Fresh Market | Beach Boulevard
Near 29th Avenue South Gulfport, Florida
Open: Year-round, Tuesdays from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
(727) 366-4086

Largo’s Downtown Market | Ulmer Park
301 West Bay Drive, Largo, Florida
Open: November through April, Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
(727) 587-6740

Market In The Park | Heritage Village
11909 – 125th Street, Largo, Florida
November through mid-April, Saturdays, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
(727) 733-4215

Oldsmar Downtown Fresh Market | Next to City Hall
100 State Street West
November through April, Wednesdays, 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
(727) 733-4215

Safety Harbor Farmers’ Market | John Wilson Park Downtown
400 Main Street, Safety Harbor, Florida
Open: Mid-October through May, Thursdays, 8:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

St. Petersburg Saturday Morning Market | Downtown St Pete
First Avenue South and First Street St. Petersburg, Florida
*Moves to Williams Park in the Summer*
Open: October through May, Saturdays, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
(727) 455-4921

Which Tampa Bay Farmer’s Market is your favorite?

Nikki Phillips

When you live someplace wonderful, like Clearwater, you can expect a lot of other folks to want to find a home in Clearwater too. Of course, that can lead to all sorts of transportation issues that have to be assessed and addressed on a regular basis.

Bike Lane, Road For Bicycles Development and growth can be tough on drivers, but it can be even more difficult for pedestrians and cyclists trying to get from A to B. That’s why many are so excited about the changes that may be coming to well-traveled Clearwater thoroughfares such as US-19. City planners are drafting a set of code changes that should pave the way for alleviating some of the stress for bus-riders, pedestrians and cyclists.

The changes will include a complex overhaul of one of the most well-traveled stretches, from Belleair Road to Curlew Road. Not only will the new design ease some of the nightmare traffic scenarios that have been noted in the past, but it will also allow for an entirely new look in several places, neighborhood shopping and dining, some carefully cultivated green spaces and safer travel to bookending regional shopping destinations such as Countryside Mall.

More important to the pedestrians, the currently narrow sidewalks along the various frontage roads would be widened up to double their current width while also being linked to retail destinations by connecting walkways.

But, according to media reports, before any of this can come to pass, changes must be made to local codes that impact infrastructure development. Plans to create some consistency and order where there is currently a patchwork quilt of shopping centers, restaurants, homes and professional offices began back in 2012. Now both planners and legislators are beginning to get a handle on the immensity of the challenge itself. In some places areas are tight, making widening difficult. In others, utilities encroach a bit too close for the new plans to be completed.

Still, nearly everyone agrees, making the city a more pedestrian-friendly place and making roads safer for cyclists are both positive moves forward. But that is not the only impetus pushing planners into becoming doers. This fall, Pinellas voters will be asked to vote on the Greenlight Pinellas plan, which calls for more efficient bus rapid transit in the area. Increased public transportation options would move these proposed changes from ideal to necessary, and could potentially push the timeline for decision-making forward.

Another aspect of the planning up for debate deals with what sort of business can go where in the new scheme of things. In the current version of the plans, mixed-use neighborhood business developments will be developed around intersections at Curlew Road, Sunset Point and Belleair, leaving more commercial development down toward Countryside Mall and Gulf-to-Bay.

And what to do with what some are calling the “sprawl” in between these points? Well, nothing much different than what we already have. Car lots, big box stores and other retailers or businesses that need the extra space or zoning with wide latitude.

Whatever gets decided, the changes will not happen over night. It’s just good to know that there are people are talking seriously about how to deal with our current challenges while also looking ahead at how to keep Clearwater a wonderful place to live, work and play for generations to come.

Dave Traynor

Developers are in the process of adding yet another high-rise luxury jewel to the downtown St. Pete waterfront, marketed and listed exclusively by Smith & Associates Real Estate! The eighteen-story “Bliss” condominium tower will be built in a prime location just off Beach Drive. Bliss will boast both incredible views and exclusive amenities. With only two units per floor, and no unit sharing a common wall, we are already seeing a tremendous amount of interest and some units have already been accounted for!

Bliss-View Floor to ceiling windows will overlook North Straub Park and the sparkling waters of Tampa Bay, one of the most coveted views in all of downtown St. Pete. Bliss will also be known for its slim profile, the narrowest high-rise downtown, but each unit will offer residents 47-feet of an amazing view of Beach Drive or North Basin real estate. At 204 feet high, Bliss will also be shorter than some of the other high-rise luxury towers along Beach Drive, but this small footprint only stands to increase the exclusive feel of living in Bliss.

Bliss-SitePlan Bliss will be located just behind the four-story Birchwood hotel and our Beach Drive office. Developer, Taub Entities, plans to build on a parcel of land at 176 Fourth Avenue NE that is currently home to a parking lot and an art gallery.

On the south side of the building, the units will start on the fifth floor, above a four-story parking garage. This layout will ensure great views on the south side of the building. On the north side, residential units will begin on the second floor and offer views of the water along Fourth Avenue NE. Every home will offer three bedrooms with high ceilings, private elevator foyers and top of the line designer finishes. Bliss will also offer residents a rooftop sky lounge with a waterfront view and a fitness center off the lobby.

Bliss-Rendering Both the enticing luxury and the limited number of available units in St. Pete’s upscale downtown waterfront have developers and St Pete Realtors expecting Bliss to sell out quickly. Smith & Associates is currently taking pre-construction contracts. After all, all along Beach Drive, luxury units continue to sell rapidly, and we expect Bliss to be no different. Construction is expected to commence this summer.

And what about those other projects that have Smith & Associates so excited about luxury living in downtown St. Petersburg?

Another, sixteen-story condo tower with 72 units is planned for 145 Fourth Avenue N, and the smaller Rowland Place, a six-story building west of Bliss, has already sold every single one of its seventeen luxury condominiums.

Smith & Associates is also handling sales at Water Club at Snell Isle, twin 9-story condominiums currently under construction just north of downtown. Sales in all of these properties have been swift and consistent, signaling a sea change along the waterfront in downtown St. Petersburg.

While rentals have been and continue to be popular, the changing face of St. Pete’s downtown area has more people interesting in exploring the unique downtown waterfront lifestyle. This increased interest in conjunction with dwindling space for development makes now a prime time to take advantage of these luxurious waterfront opportunities.

If you want to see more about Bliss, click here for floorplans or contact us today!

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Mary Lou Gordon

The University Mall Cinema used to be THE place to go to watch a movie in central Tampa. Then, as newer, larger and more comfortable theaters opened in the ‘burbs on the outskirts of town, many boasting IMAX opportunities, University Mall cinema waned, eventually closing.

But now, after a complete renovation, Studio Movie Grill is opening in the same space. This new incarnation will be much more than a place to watch a movie. Studio Movie Grill will operate as a dinner theater with a full bar. While theater backers are calling the new destination a signal that University Mall is, once again, moving in the right direction, residents are just excited about the interesting new entertainment option.

As long as construction continues on schedule movie fans could be watching films in this new theater this fall. While some formerly closed theaters have reopened as “second run” movie houses, Studio Movie Grill will be offering first run movies in a unique, fun atmosphere.

Local residents and other University Mall retailers are definitely hoping this new development will be the shot in the arm the retail complex needs to return to its former glory. Though many spaces remain empty and others have given way to value or discount retailers, the mall interior recently received a fresh, renovated look.

Though shoppers have, in recent years, preferred shopping at newer malls, there is no doubt University Mall still occupies a prime retail location, right on Fowler Avenue near both I-275 and the University of South Florida. The mall is also very close to two major healthcare complexes, Moffitt Cancer Center and Florida Hospital, which draw thousands of medical professionals each day.

Between the working professionals and the college students, both the theater and the renovated mall definitely have a ready audience. But what can patrons expect?

Studio Movie Grill is more than the chicken fingers, hot dogs and popcorn offered at some “eat in” theaters. Staple items from many traditional American menus are covered – blackened chicken, Asian chopped chicken, burgers, pizza and pasta. And, of course, the full bar should also be a draw.

But one of the best perks is an option some other Tampa area theaters have been experimenting in the recent past – reserved seating. Order your tickets in advance and you can choose your seat. No more getting there WAY early in hopes of not getting stuck right up front.

Dinner theater movie houses are becoming increasingly popular in the Bay area. Cobb Theaters has opened locations in both Hyde Park Village (CineBistro) and Pasco County’s Wesley Chapel (CineBistro at Grove 16).

Channelside Cinemas 10 at 610 Channelside Drive offers beer and wine along with the standard movie snack fare. Muvico Centro Ybor at 1600 E 8th Ave offers sixteen all ages theaters and then four “premium” auditoriums for the 21-and-up crowd where moviegoers can take advantage of the full bar and food items including buffalo wings and sliders.

Which of these theatres have you visited recently? Do you have a favorite?

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