Island redevelopment trend: recycled home properties

Steve Stefanides

When islanders think about new development on Marco, they most often look at undeveloped pieces of property, envisioning a new home being built there.

But another option is increasingly being considered in the marketplace – the purchase of an older home, the demolition of that structure and building a newer one in its place to take advantage of views and neighborhoods.

"More often than not, the older home has a great location and a view," said Alan Sandlin of the Sandlin team of Realtors. "The new property owners' desire to take advantage of that location and build their dream home is the driving force behind that thought process.

"This option is being utilized more often than one might think," said Sandlin.

Rod Busnell, owner of AQUA Construction, said he is seeing that phenomenon in his business.

"I'll be doing at least three almost immediately and have another half dozen I'll be finalizing in the next few months," said Busnell. "They aren't making these views anymore and some clients are willing to purchase an older home for to acquire the view and/or access to the water."

Two-story homes are part of the trend, Realtors said.

"The newer home will most likely be larger and may even go up in height compared to what was previously there," said Wanda Day of Berkshire-Hathaway. "The two story home has become more and more popular as time goes on.

"People are looking to maximize their investment dollars and the larger home with increased amenities and floor space does that ... (it) also includes the installation of elevators or provisions for them in the future," said Day.

Demolition of an existing home on a lot can run anywhere between $10,000-$15,000, depending upon the size of the home.

That remains a relatively insignificant amount of money when you consider someone is willing to invest considerable money to build the residence they desire with the amenities they've always dreamed about.

Jim Prange of Premier Sotheby said property owners want the most-popular features in today's homes.

"There are some wonderful homes out there built in the 90s, but they don't have many of the features of today's homes with the open floor plan and vaulted ceilings which have become the standard for today," said Prange.

"They are willing to invest the dollars to get what they want, but there becomes a point when it becomes easier and sometimes more cost-effective to build new rather than renovate an older structure to meet the desires they have," said Prange.

Stan Niemczyk of the Gulf to Golf Team estimates about 1,500 to 1,700 vacant lots are on the island.

"Out of those that have a potential for development only about 325 are on the market," said Niemczyk. "There are many other homes on direct and indirect canals with older residences built on them going back as far as the 70s which have magnificent views and have great potential for redevelopment."