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As housing hot streak continues, builders throw money at creature comforts

Ultra-deluxe amenities — dog shower, anyone? — abound at the region’s newest residential communities.

  • By Brian Hartz
  • | 6:00 a.m. February 1, 2019
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
Mark Wemple. Sean Strickler is Atlanta-based PulteGroup's west Florida division president.
Mark Wemple. Sean Strickler is Atlanta-based PulteGroup's west Florida division president.
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In early 2018, Metro Development Group made history by opening the first Crystal Lagoons facility in the United States at its $100 million Epperson master-planned community in Wesley Chapel.

The 7.5-acre artificial lake allows Epperson residents to swim, sail, kayak, paddleboard or just relax in crystal-clear, largely chemical-free water. It’s also available to nonresidents for a $25 daily fee and includes a tidal pool, beach, cabanas and swim-up bar.

Not to be outdone, PulteGroup announced plans for a 19,000-square-foot, $14 million resort-style clubhouse and pool complex at its Del Webb Bexley community in Land O’Lakes. Highlights of The Meridian, as it’s known, include a resistance training pool, pickleball and tennis courts, fitness center and café with a beer and wine bar.

While location will always be the No. 1 priority for buyers, amenities have become a key influence on home purchases, says Sean Strickler, PulteGroup’s West Florida division president. “It really depends on the buyer group, but amenities are very important.”

Del Webb Bexley caters to 55-and-up buyers who might not be as socially mobile as first-time homebuyers and couples with young children. So premium community features are a must. “For the first-time homebuyer,” says Strickler, “while all of that stuff is nice, you need to make sure that it’s done in a way that you can deliver an affordable price point from the standpoint of the home itself as well as the monthly fees.”

And certain features have become essential, says Willy Nunn, president of Riverview-based Homes By WestBay. “People expect some sort of community area that has a playground and dog park," he says. "As lot sizes get smaller, kids and dogs need room to run. And houses are being ‘amenitized’ for pets — we even offer dog showers, an elevated shower area in the laundry or utility room — as an option.”


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