By MELODY JAMESON
Apollo Beach – What’s in a name?
A lot – especially when it’s Del Webb, one of the nation’s most familiar in active adult residential development.
For nearly a half century in South Hillsborough, the name frequently considered synonymous with retiree housing and hospitality has been associated exclusively with Sun City Center, – the 20,000-resident community now straddling S.R. 674 between the 100-year-old Wimauma and Ruskin, rising from cattle ranching land when the state road was a barely-paved two-lane connector.
Although, over the years, SCC has been the stomping grounds of a number of developers, none have been recalled with the same sentiment as its late founder and first builder. Long time local Realtors still refer to the farsighted innovations built into the early homes designated with the Del Webb name and one of his design numbers. And, in honor of the pioneering developer, two of the SCC internal streets carry the Del Webb name.
The name, however, no longer is associated solely with SCC. There’s a newcomer in the neighborhood and bearing the moniker proudly. Though considerably smaller and much younger, Del Webb’s Southshore Falls at Apollo Beach aims for the same market with similar ambiance.
Southshore Falls is an 800-unit residential community for “the active adult” 50 years of age or older being developed by Pulte Homes on the west side of U.S. 41, according to Valerie Dolenga, the national level builder’s spokesperson based in Houston, Texas. Its specialties are one-story single family and villa style dwellings ranging from a three- bedroom-plus-den floor plan in 2,278 square feet to a two bedroom, two bath villa, including a den in 1,448 square feet. Price points for a selection of models in both configurations currently range between $205,000 and $140,000.
Approximately half of the projected total number of homes have been built and sold since ground was broken for Southshore Falls in 2007, Dolenga said. Given the same development pace, build-out could be attained in 2013.
The development also features a 20,000-square-foot amenities center offering a variety of activities and recreational facilities, she added. There are both indoor and outdoor swimming pools, plus a fitness center, an internet café, arrangements for arts and crafts, card games and similar activities.
Unlike SCC where residents pay an annual Community Association membership fee currently pegged at about $250 and entitling them to use of the large activities campuses, Southshore Falls homeowners become members of a homeowners’ association and pay monthly fees in the $100 to $300 neighborhood, Dolenga said.
Pulte acquired the Del Webb Corporation in 2001, Dolenga noted, adding that during the ensuing decade the company has branded about 60 of its retirement communities nationwide with the high profile name. A number of retiree centers carrying the Del Webb name are scattered across the southern tier of the country from California to the Carolinas, plus two in the mid-west snow belt near Chicago, she noted. Some carry the “Sun City” titling while others have been named individually, consistent, for example, with their locations such as with Southshore Falls.
The very first Sun City was initiated by Del Webb himself in Arizona more than 50 years ago, preceding the local Sun City Center by a short time . In fact, histories of this area recount that his Florida development also would have been dubbed simply “Sun City” had it not been for the small, older settlement by the same name located south of the Little Manatee River. The “center” was added to “Sun City” in order to distinguish between the two, but often is dropped in casual conversation to the chagrin of knowledgeable locals.
Another well known builder-developer also was purchased by Pulte during the last decade, Dolenga pointed out. In 2009, as the housing market continued a prolonged contraction, Pulte acquired the Centex Corporation, also a high-profile player on the Florida residential development front. Centex, like Del Webb, has become a very visible “member of the Pulte family,” Dolenga said.
A “grand opening” observance now is being planned at Southshore Falls during the May 8 and 9 weekend, Dolenga added, commemorating the rebranding with the Del Webb name and opening of a model center.
Copyright 2010 Melody Jameson