New Home Sales Fall in February

26 03 2007

The Commerce Department reported that sales of new single-family homes in the United States fell sharply for a second consecutive month in February, dropping 3.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 848,000, a weaker-than-expected performance and the slowest sales pace in nearly seven years. All regions of the country except the West experienced weakness last month.

Last month existing home sales in Florida continued to show a more sustainable pace of sales in February while still-low mortgage rates sparked buyer interest, according to FAR. Statewide sales of single-family existing homes totaled 10,779 in February for a 23 percent decrease compared to February 2006. The statewide existing
home median sales price was $235,500.

The February decline followed an even larger 15.8 percent drop in sales in January, which had been the largest one-month plunge in 13 years. The back-to-back declines provided evidence that the housing market is continuing to struggle with lagging demand and a glut of unsold homes.

Source: The Associated Press

16:Flat Condominiums in Downtown

26 03 2007

Almost three years ago, a group of friends set out to offer an inside view of the design process that leads to engaging architecture.

The result was Gallery Thirteen, a conceptual building that would be nestled in a sliver of a space between the old Downtown library and the 11 East Forsyth apartment tower. Its unconventional size, emphasis on furthering the city’s cultural scene and rooftop amphitheater and gardens brought it public and professional acclaim among those interested in Downtown revitalization.

Though the group of friends, consisting of architects and designers at Rink Design Partnership Inc., never intended to build the art gallery they conceived, the project has led to something more tangible.

16:Flat is a 16-unit condominium building planned for 0.19 acres at the corner of Liberty and Duval streets in the Cathedral District of Downtown.

The same friends and coworkers from the gallery exercise have formed 13 Minute Productions LLC, an investment group that designed the $5 million project and has a contract to buy the property pending design approval from the city.

A spirited and creative group whose ages range from 26 to 44, the five partners live or work Downtown and want to see neighborhoods such as the one their project is slated for provide “diverse living opportunities.”

Their modern five-story building has its parking deck on the first floor and a rooftop garden and common area. Its perimeter is gated, and its urban design features include floor-to-ceiling glass windows, open floor plans and wood floors.

Unit prices will range from the mid $200,000s to the low $400,000s, with the most inexpensive condominiums intentionally filling a price niche that recent luxury developments have overlooked in part due to rising land prices.

Partner Logan Rink declined to reveal how much 13 Minute Productions will pay for the parcel, but said the group’s design skills allowed it to use every possible inch of land.

Partner Mike Kleinschmidt hopes potential buyers — probably young professionals or empty-nesters — will appreciate the use of interesting materials and the overall feel of the property.

“The challenge is to design with the materials that excite you, but that’s something the market will absorb,” Kleinschmidt said. “You want it to be a place you’d like to live.”

The likelihood that other urban dwellers will want to live there could be high, since there are only a handful of infill projects on the Northbank. Few, if any, are in new buildings whose design is expected to reach a broad group of potential homebuyers.

Source: Jacksonville Business Journal

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