Regional Corridor Update

Regional Corridor Update  

Compiled by Wendy O. Dixon

Affordable Housing Moves to Panama City Beach

By Wendy O. Dixon

For those who want maintenance-free living close to the beach, a new community is being developed as an affordable option to the half-million-dollar condominiums that have characterized recent development in Panama City Beach.

Officials with Beazer Homes Corp., headquartered in Atlanta, recently announced the opening of Whisper Dunes coastal community in Panama City Beach. The 1,500- to 2,000-square-foot town-homes and villas are priced beginning in the $160,000s.

Strategically placed close to local shopping centers, restaurants, outdoor activities and entertainment, Whisper Dunes is located on 78 acres on West Back Beach Road, less than a half-mile from the Gulf.

“Beazer is extremely excited to offer affordable living this close to the beautiful Gulf of Mexico beaches and within minutes of the exciting and growing entertainment complex at Pier Park,” says Matt Brandman, president of Beazer’s Northwest Florida Division. “This area of Back Beach Road is booming, and we look forward to bringing the Beazer commitment of providing superior quality and value, along with customer and community support, to Panama City Beach.”

Though the price is right for many permanent and seasonal buyers, certain luxury features still remain, such as a cabana and swimming pool. The entry has been designed as a welcoming enclave, with a roundabout circling a lighthouse-style monument and boulevard lined with palm trees. Southern coastal architectural-style homes in pastel color schemes have been selected to reflect the look of the region.

All homes in Whisper Dunes are aimed at making a difference in the environment and will include Beazer’s eSMART features that translate to immediate energy savings, greater water efficiency and improved indoor air quality without adding to the home’s purchase price.

Whisper Dunes is Beazer’s second project in Northwest Florida, where it is building homes in Tallahassee’s SouthWood community. As in SouthWood, Beazer purchased the land for Whisper Dunes from the St. Joe Company.

“Our research confirmed the company’s desire to enter the Panama City market, which is poised to be the next great growth region in Florida,” Brandman says. “Due to the various economic stimuli, including a new international airport, this area is on the verge of experiencing significant growth over the next several years.”


One of America’s Best Beaches

St. Andrew’s State Recreation Area has landed the No. 2 spot on the 2008 list of top 10 beaches in the United States, according to online travel information site TripAdvisor Popularity Index and TripAdvisor editors.

The No. 1 beach, according to the list? Fort De Soto Park’s North Beach in Tierra Verde, Fla., which is just south of St. Petersburg.

The Sunshine State fared extremely well, locking up the fifth and seventh slots, as well, with South Beach, Miami, and Pensacola Beach, Pensacola, respectively.

A Brand New Breeze

Officials with Sterling Resorts, a vacation-rental and real estate company with more than 20 properties, announced the recent opening of Sterling Breeze in Panama City Beach, adding to their resorts and vacation homes along the Gulf Coast of Northwest Florida, Alabama and Mississippi.

Analysts Predict Insurance Shortfall

There is bad news for Florida’s property insurers, and we have the credit market crunch to thank for it, according to a recent report released by the analysts at A.M. Best Company.

The problem is that the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, which provides reinsurance to insurance companies, could experience as much as a $25.75 billion shortfall if a really bad hurricane hits the state. The shortfall means the catastrophe fund wouldn’t be able to reimburse insurers for claims – meaning, in turn, that they may run out of money.

The A.M. Best report shows express concern for Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, the state-run insurance safety net for homeowners in high-risk areas. Forty percent of the catastrophe fund’s coverage goes to Citizens, according to the Florida Association of Realtors.

But Bruce Douglas, chairman of the Citizens board, disputes the findings, citing the $10 billion in liquid funds on hand.

“It would have to be a pretty severe storm for us not to be able to pay claims,” Douglas says.