Developer Pat Neal’s new cottages are the right idea at the right time.
By Robert Plunket
Like everybody else I was fascinated by the brand-new $122,000 house featured on the front page of the Herald-Trib on Saturday—also on the front page of the Bradenton Herald the very same day. What could it be like? I’d been in houses and condos at the lower end of the price spectrum, so I was expecting something so cheap and basic that it made you feel like a failure to have to live there.
So I drove up to Parrish. It wasn’t so far; just a couple of miles past the outlet mall on 301. Your first impression when you turn into Forest Creek is, wow. Neal Communities has done something very smart. They didn’t build a development of cheap houses. They stuck an enclave of cheap houses in the middle a really nice community. Forest Creek has beautiful landscaping, a big lake and nature trails.
The cottages themselves are much nicer than the picture in the paper, which made them look like FEMA housing. In fact, they’re very, very cute, possibly even adorable. The theme is Florida Beach Cottage and all the detailing references the cottage look that is so popular at the moment. Plus they had all the necessities of life that I always check for—two bathrooms, a walk-in closet in the master (which is a generous 12x16), full size washer and dryer (not a stackable), a garage, a decent (though tiny) outdoor area.
There are three models. The $122,000 is single story, long and narrow, two bedrooms. The $136,000 model is two stories, also two bedrooms, more spacious and just as cute. The top-of-the-line model, at $156,000, has a third bedroom and a wonderful second-floor porch.
The Forest Creek cottages: At top, the $122,000 model and at bottom, the $136,000 model.
The drawbacks: there isn’t a lot of storage space, and the houses seem awfully close together. And of course, you’re living in Parrish, which I’m sure is a wonderful place, but driving to Sarasota more than once a day would soon become a pain in the neck.
The cottages at Forest Creek are somewhat shocking, but in a good way. Somebody has finally done something about the real estate crisis, and the result is a big success. Will they sell? Oh, yeah—according to the developer, eight of them were snapped up last weekend. This is definitely an idea whose time has come.