Residents fret over incoming, upscale neighbors
Some neighbors say they feel threatened by the redevelopment of the Cove Apartments into luxury townhomes and condos.
By ALEXANDRA ZAYAS
Published May 26, 2006

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When developers unveiled plans to transform the Cove from an aging apartment complex to upscale townhomes and condos, most residents at a Bayside West Neighborhood Association meeting agreed the sketches were beautiful.
The Ballast Point Group's 750 Mediterranean-style homes will overlook Tampa Bay on 25 landscaped acres. Residents will enjoy a 10,000-square-foot clubhouse and at least three swimming pools.


Fountains will cascade along West Shore Boulevard. Cobbled pathways will culminate in a meditation garden overlooking the bay.


It would be a retiree's dream.


But for residents of the nearby adult mobile home community Regency Cove, it's out of reach. Homes start in the high $400,000s and go up to $3-million.


"They want all the little people out of here," said Karen Hilbert, 65, during a neighborhood association meeting with the developer May 18. "They don't want us here anymore."


After retiring five years ago, Hilbert and her husband, Corky, 67, moved to Florida from Pennsylvania and bought a home at Regency Cove for $35,000.


They enjoy the warm weather and the convenience of the South Tampa address, but they fear their middle-class neighborhood will lose its charm to make way for millionaires.


"Florida isn't going to be the Florida we know," Hilbert said.


The complaints about the development mostly stopped at unit pricing.


Developers assured neighbors that traffic will not increase after the transformation. Plans call for adding 61 units to the property and a right-turn lane to divert residents out of traffic as they access the gate off West Shore.


Existing apartment residents will receive help in looking for a nearby place to live, officials said. Property manager Laurie Cook said some of the apartments have such a high turnover rate that tenants do not stay long enough to feel uprooted when they have to move.


As developers work on the concept, apartment management will continue to renew 12-month leases. Construction is expected to begin in 2008, with move-in dates starting in 2009.


Dick Greenfield, owner of neighboring Livingston Furniture, fears construction initially could hurt his store. But once the work is finished, the redevelopment will boost his business, he said.


"I think anyone in retail, especially a business like ours, is going to prosper from all the high-end homes coming in to our area," Greenfield said.


Regency Cove resident Carroll Johnson wasn't convinced. She feels threatened by South Tampa's upscale redevelopments.


"I'm comfortable where I am," Johnson said. "But I feel like I'm being squeezed out."


Alexandra Zayas can be reached at 813 226-3354 or azayas@sptimes.com.


http://www.sptimes.com/2006/05/26/Citytimes/Residents_fret_over_i.shtml


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