Tuesday, March 14, 2006

First sales begin at Ave Maria

Tuesday, March 14, 2006 |
First sales begin at Ave Maria
Seventy condominiums, part of a mixed-use development called La Piazza, are now for sale

By Theresa Stahl (Contact)

Friday, March 10, 2006

The first residential units in Ave Maria are up for sale.

The 70 condominiums, called La Piazza, encircle the oratory of Ave Maria University, which sits on the edge of the school’s campus and in the heart of the town.

La Piazza is a mixed-use project that will have retail units on the first floor and residential on the second and third floors of each of the six buildings.

Nearly three-fourths of the condos have been reserved with a refundable $10,000 deposit. La Piazza has not been marketed. Barron Collier Cos., the developer, and Ave Maria officials have been quietly handing out materials about the condos to their business associates.

The condos range from $330,000 to $665,000 for two or three bedrooms and from 1,186 to 1,834 square feet of space. Each unit also has a balcony or terrace.

Blake Gable, project manager for Barron Collier, said the prices are not indicative of the cost of housing in the rest of the community. The median price of condos sold in January in Collier County was $404,700, according to the Florida Association of Realtors.

The creators of Ave Maria have promised to build affordable housing for moderate-income residents such as teachers and service workers.

“We are going to be so affordable across the board,” Gable said.

La Piazza will be part of 1,900 units that will be ready in the summer of 2007. Of those, 350 will be slated as affordable housing, which will be townhomes offered for $175,000, Gable said.

The prices are higher for La Piazza because mixed-use projects cost more to build, he said. It is one of seven communities that will be located in Ave Maria.

Since the university’s groundbreaking last month, Barron Collier has received hundreds of inquiries about housing, Gable said. The event, which Gov. Jeb Bush attended, drew national media attention.

Daniel Dix signed up for one of the units at La Piazza as soon as they were available. He’s the future owner of a coffee shop that will be on the bottom floor of his condominium building.

“It seems nice that you could wake up and walk down and go to work,” said Dix, a Fort Myers resident who owns the Sanibel Bean on Sanibel Island and two locations at Midfield Terminal. Dix also is pursuing a master’s degree in pastoral theology for personal development, because he has a wife and children and can’t become a priest.

When the contract for the condominium is ready this summer, he’ll pay around $500,000 for a three-bedroom 1,400-square-foot home of which he’s only seen the floor plans. It doesn’t bother Dix, who said he’s excited about the concept of Ave Maria.

“I’m going forward in faith,” he said.

For more information about La Piazza, call Barron Collier Cos. at 262-2600.


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