ST. PETERSBURG — In real estate circles, it would seem an odd match — 54 townhouses in an office park and a group of Realtors best known for selling luxury single-family homes in Snell Isle.
Yet the Strickland Property Group is convinced it can do what others have not — find buyers for the townhouses in Back Bay at Carillon.
"The developer thinks this is the right time and so do we,’’ says Oscar Marti, Strickland’s managing broker.
Designed to evoke the stately townhouses of Boston’s Back Bay, the Carillon versions are in a 430-acre office park whose tenants include Raymond James and Charter Spectrum. The park, bordered by busy Ulmerton Road and Roosevelt Boulevard, is big enough to once have been touted as a possible site for a new Tampa Bay Rays baseball stadium.
When the 55 townhouses first went on sale a decade ago, 25 sold at prices up to $800,000. Buyers liked the quality and the size of the homes, which ranged from about 3,000 to 4,000 square feet and had two-car garages.
Then the market crashed and all but one of the buyers backed out.
RO Back Bay Associates LLC bought the 54 unsold homes and began leasing them. They rented quickly but even with price cuts and expensive staging they failed to attract any interest when the company tried to sell them again in late 2014.
Now, with prices dropped further to between $469,000 and $643,000, there are several factors in Back Bay’s favor, Marti says.
"One, in 2014, the market was still playing catchup to the recession and that’s no longer the case,’’ he says. "Second, back in 2014, they were quite a lot higher than what we’re selling them for. And third is the fact that there is hardly any inventory, at least any quality inventory, in that price point.’’
The townhouses are priced around $156 per square foot, compared to about $190 for comparable properties in nearby Feather Sound, Marti says. And while not everyone wants to live in an office park, he thinks Back Bay’s location between St. Petersburg and Tampa and near several major employers will be another plus.
"We’ve identified a large pool of potential buyers,’’ he says, including "30-some-year-olds now making six figures.’’
Marketing townhomes is a departure for Strickland Property Group, which last year had more than $100 million in sales of mostly high-end houses close to downtown St. Petersburg. But Marti, who moved from Fort Lauderdale in 2016 to join the group, says he had extensive experience with rental conversions in South Florida.
"Yes, this is our first foray into this part of the industry, but we come with very good experience and customer service,’’ he says. ‘‘We have five agents that are working exclusively for this development but we have a total of 14 agents on staff and everyone has been brought up to date on exactly what we’re doing here.’’
On a recent evening, Marti hosted a party with wine, beer and hors d’oeuvres for agents from other firms who had been invited to see Back Bay and check out one of the townhomes.
"Since they had room, they should have bumped this out so you could put a couple of bar stools here,’’ Glenn Musto, a Charles Rutenberg agent, said of a wall very close to a kitchen island.
Musto also found the toilet closet in the master bedroom "tight,’’ but liked that the room was on the main floor so residents wouldn’t have to climb the somewhat steep stairs. "That’s good as baby boomers age,’’ he said, pronouncing the home "very nice and well built’’ overall.
As of this week, three townhomes were under contract, all to current renters who had been offered price incentives to buy. Several more potential buyers are waiting, either to get pre-approved by a lender or to see how much desired upgrades would cost.
And a lot of people from Carillon corporate centers are stopping by, Marti says.
"We anticipate that driving up sales.’’
Contact Susan Taylor Martin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.