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Date of Issue: February 08, 2007

SevenShores to Islanders: 'Come see us'

seven shores pic
Last of the breed
A lone boat is all that remains for sale at the Perico Harbor Marina. The dry storage marina in the background will be torn down by the St. Joe Co. and a 126-space wet-slip marina constructed in its place. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

St. Joe's SevenShores condominium project on north Perico Island is on schedule, said Joe Romanowski, St. Joe's regional sales and project manager, and the company is anticipating a normal winter sales season.

Fact is, said Romanowski, the company has done little advertising of SevenShores since it opened its sales office on Perico Island last April, but has still taken deposits on 10 units. The company has just started a local marketing and advertising campaign aimed at letting the Bradenton and Tampa Bay areas know what's available at the project, and Romanowski is more than happy to invite Islanders and any Island real estate agent with an interested client to the "We definitely are going to co-broke with any Island real estate agent," he said emphatically.

And he's extremely optimistic that the upcoming winter sales season for Island real estate will be much better than last year's season. A veteran of the local real estate industry, he noted that the sales boom of 2004-05 was somewhat "abnormal" for the Island.

But with SevenShores coming on the market with "value" condominiums priced in the $540,000 range, Romanowski forecasts a solid sales season. Prices at SevenShores are "right where we want them to be and we're offering excellent value."

The SevenShores "value," said Romanowski, is that the smallest unit is a two-bedroom, two-bath waterfront condominium with a den and 1,660 square feet of living space. That, he said, is pretty hard to beat anywhere on the Island.

Even with no advertising, SevenShores has already taken deposits on 10 units in its first building. "We're very comfortable with that figure, especially without any marketing of the property until recently." However, Romanowski is candid about the market for SevenShores units.

 "If you want to move in right now, we can't do it. But if someone wants to live on a beautiful island in a grand setting and is willing to wait, this is the ideal place to be. It's worth the wait."

But is it a "hard sell" when there's no model available to show a prospective buyer?

"That's always a great debate in selling a condominium," he observed, but no condominium project builds a model. People who put up a deposit on a unit now are "visionaries" and will hold "great value in being in the first building."

Just how long the "wait" for construction of the first building to start is still unknown. Romanowski said he had no definite time frame when that construction will begin, but St. Joe will "do it right."

While completion of the inland lake is targeted for the end of March, water and sewer lines are still being installed and road construction has yet to begin. When the roads are finished, said Romanowski, the company will start construction of the first building.

 "But we are right on schedule with the lake. There's just no hard date set for the start of the building and any time frame is adjustable," he said. St. Joe's won't hurry anything just for the sake of getting something in the ground.

"We're builders of towns and resorts. We're place makers and we do it right," he pledged.

The first building will house 40 units and subsequent construction will be done in phases as each building reaches a certain stage of sales.

Romanowski also noted that St. Joe has purchased the Perico Harbor Marina and plans to turn it into a wet-slip facility, but no decision on when construction will start has yet been made. The dry-storage will be torn down, he said, and replaced with a suitable structure.

"We're keeping our options open on whether it will be a private marina or open to the public," he said.

Romanowski didn't shy away from the fact that the project was a bit controversial when first proposed eight years ago, but it's been two years since final approval of the plan by both Manatee County and the Island cities. All legal issues have been settled and there's no point in rehashing old arguments, he said.

"It's time to move forward. We plan to be an integral part of the Island community and good neighbors and we'd like to invite Islanders to come see what we're doing. I think people will be surprised to find we're developing an environmentally friendly community."

SevenShores is being built on a former fruit farm, so there's no destruction of native vegetation or major earth moving. Mangroves aren't being torn out, no artificial beaches created and SevenShores will maintain large tracts of trees with walking trails and nature paths, he pointed out.

Romanowski reiterated his willingness to work with Island real estate agents.

"I'd like to invite any real estate agent to come visit our sales office and take a tour of the property. I think this is going to be a good season for everyone in real estate and we can only help each other," said Romanowski. St. Joe, he noted, has been in Florida for quite some time and has a reputation for quality.

When completed, the entire SevenShores project will have 686 units in 13 mid-rise buildings built around the inland lake.