Saturday, June 25, 2005

Lakewood Ranch Condos Go Fast

They wanted so badly to buy in Lakewood Ranch, they camped out to do it
RICHARD DYMOND
Herald Staff Writer

THE LONG WAIT

LAKEWOOD RANCH - Alan Danziger showed up a day before the doors opened and was still 11th in line to buy a condo at The Village at Town Park near Lakewood Ranch.

The first person in line, Bill Morris, actually arrived on Wednesday and was looking a little sleepy by Friday afternoon.

What was drawing these modern day "Sooners" was the chance to buy a one, two or three-bedroom condo, which was previously a rental apartment built in 2000 and 2001, in Colonial Village at Town Park.

The condos were rumored to sell from $150,000 to $260,000, but Danziger, Morris, and about 50 others camped out to get them didn't know the exact prices until 6 p.m. Friday when the doors opened at the condo office for a sale preview.

The actual prices announced by O'Dell late Friday ranged from $159,900 to $266,400.

"It's craziness, insanity and greed," said Danziger, when asked why he stayed overnight to buy a condo.

"I'm doing this for an investment," Danziger added. "There isn't any other rental property in Lakewood Ranch going condo. There are only about two apartment complexes on the east side of Interstate 75."

Most of the campers slept in their cars Thursday night in the condo parking lot and set up lawn chairs and umbrellas Friday morning, ordering out for food and having friends and relatives occupy their places in line so they could shower.

Danziger, who works for Verizon and already lives in Lakewood Ranch, stayed overnight Thursday, watching the movie, "Star Trek IV: The Return Home" on his van's DVD player.

When the doors finally opened, the campers rushed in to leave $5,000 deposits on the units they wanted and make a reservation to come back at 10 a.m. Saturday, when the units would actually go on sale.

"It's extremely hectic," Julie O'Dell, marketing director of the Miami-based Paramount Companies of Florida, said by phone at 6:09 p.m.

Since apartment renters have first right to buy the units, it is unclear how many units might be available, O'Dell said.

The 19-building condo complex is located off Town Center Parkway, adjacent to Lakewood Ranch.

Paramount also sent invitations to customers from their residential projects in South Florida. This is their first Manatee County project.

"It's definitely a buy," said Elliot Wachman, who drove up from Davie after getting an invitation by mail and, like the other campers, spent some time wandering through condo models.

"Broward County, where I live, is done. There is nothing left to buy. This place reminds me of Arvida's Westin property in Broward. It's a great location."

Monica Waterman, from Venice, arrived late - she pulled in Friday afternoon and got No. 41.

"I'm not a camping kind of girl," Waterman said.

Waterman was positive it would be worth her while to buy one of the units, which range from 898-square-feet for a one-bedroom to roughly 1,500-square-feet for a three-bedroom.

"There is no question this is a great investment," Waterman said. "The location is incomparable. It will continue to grow in value."

The campers are grabbing the units because there just isn't anything available in Lakewood Ranch at reduced prices, O'Dell said.

"Everything seems to start at $300,000 in Manatee County," O'Dell said. "We see it as affordable housing in the right neighborhood."

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 708-7917 or rdymond@HeraldToday.com.

How much?

One-bedroom, one-bath: $159,900 to $172,000, depending on views, locations (first or second floor) a garage or upgrades

Two-bedroom, two-bath: $199,900 to $244,900 - with increases also due to upgrades and views

Three-bedroom, two bath: $231,900 to $266,400

Valeo Clearance License 3.120.4711641-75396

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