Regional Corridor Update

Tallahassee Business Journal  September-October 2008Regional Corridor Update

Compiled by Maria Mallory White and Jason Dehart

SPOTLIGHT Destin-Based Housing Site Hopes to Attract Investors

By Maria Mallory White

Google “housing market” or “real estate market,” and within the first half dozen results, you’ll find housingpredictor.com. Type in either phrase sans quotes, and the Destin-based site likely will appear in the top two. Talk about search-engine optimization. When it comes to sharing data on the nation’s real estate market, on top is exactly where site editor and founder Mike Colpitts wants to be. “We worked really hard to get up in Google,” says Colpitts, who moved to the Emerald Coast nine years ago and now lives in South Walton off Scenic Highway 30-A. “But it’s taken a long time to get up there. Real estate Web sites don’t get born overnight.” Colpitts’ journey began in 1989. That’s when the Silicon Valley native, whose professional roots are in newspaper and broadcast journalism, began envisioning the site. As the Internet went mainstream, Colpitts, who had moved into real estate investing, wanted to merge that interest with the Web. “I’m a real estate analyst, and I’ve got a degree in commercial real estate and a couple other degrees,” says Colpitts, whose five-person staff includes an economist, a Web master, a writer and a tech person. After more than two years in development, in 2004 Colpitts launched housingpredictor.com, an independent, online firm that crunches housing market data and publishes forecasts for more than 250 localities across the United States. Now, growth is tops in the mind of this entrepreneur, who has planned a trip to New York City, saying his ad-funded site is ripe for an outside cash infusion. “I’m going to meet with a bunch of companies for investment capital … about 10,” he says. “We’ve got a lot of interest.” And even some offers to buy the site outright.
“We’ve gotten 11 offers,” he says. “A guy asked me, ‘What would you sell it for?’ I threw out a crazy figure, ‘$2.5 million’ … They came back with $1.4 million, and I said I wouldn’t really sell it.” And while media from near and far, as well as individual real estate buyers and sellers, increasingly turn to the site – a recent mention in the national business publication Barron’s netted more than 200,000 hits – housingpredictor.com is one real estate-related investment Colpitts forecasts he’ll hold onto for a good long time.

 

SEACREST BEACH Own a Slice of Heaven Part Time
Now is your chance to own a luxurious vacation home on the Emerald Coast – without the hassles of whole ownership, at a fraction of the price – at Magnolia Private Residence Club, located along Scenic Highway 30-A. Three-bedroom residences start at just $159,000 for a one-eighth share. Private residence club owners have more flexibility in how they use their ownership. This one was developed with families in mind, according to sales director Laura Gerard. “A complete range of amenities and services has been specifically tailored for family fun,” she says. For more information, call (850) 231-1681 or go to magnoliaresidenceclub.com.

DESTIN
Back to the BeachThe Beaches of South Walton, and Destin’s beach restoration project, was named one of the 2008 Best Restored Beach Award recipients. The American Shore and Beach Preservation Association created the award in 2001 to recognize the value of restored beaches, according to Harry Simmons, president of the association and mayor of Caswell Beach, N.C. “As Americans enjoy the nation’s beaches this summer, most won’t even realize they are enjoying a restored beach,” he says. Following a series of storms that caused severe coastline damage, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection designated the area as “critically eroded,” qualifying it for state funding. Coastal engineers began the restoration project in 2005. Five miles of the restored beach are in Walton County and two miles of it are in Okaloosa County. Officials said that to expedite the restoration project, an interlocal agreement between the two communities combined the two beaches into one unified seven-mile project.

GULF COUNTY
Sacred Heart Begins First Phase of ProjectWork is under way on the site of the future Sacred Heart Hospital in Port St. Joe. The hospital, which will be located along U.S. Highway 98, is expected to be substantially complete by the summer of 2009. The St. Joe Company donated land for the $35 million hospital.

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