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To: Fellow Coquina Key Arms residents
From: Matt Lorenz, 5121-D Coquina Key Drive SE

June 5, 2005

Hello, Neighbor:

After more than 30 years of offering scenic but reasonably priced apartments in the bay, Coquina Key Arms is condo-izing. Many residents, particularly long-timers, wonder where to go next.

FYI, I think I've found a perfect central location for anyone 45 or older who works in, or otherwise has ties in, Pinellas County or Tampa. It's halfway between the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay itself, halfway between Pinellas Point and Tarpon Springs, and just up the road from Feather Sound, the Howard Frankland and Westshore. We discovered it as Celia prepared to downsize out of a hard-to-manage four-bedroom in-ground in Riverview and I prepared to transition from CKA South. The place emerged as THE best of its kind. We liked it so much, we not only bought our own home, we bought two to upgrade for rent or sale. The flyers offer a glimpse of those labors — well, Celia's labors, my advertising.

The place is Ranchero Village, an enclosed community of 945 large manufactured homes on a tree- and flower-strewn square mile at the corner of Belcher and Ulmerton roads. Ranchero has a resort's facilities and activities — even more than Coquina Key Arms — and the services of an apartment or condominium, but residents own freestanding homes. They lease land annually for $432.65 (Lakeside section) or $424.40 (garden section) per month; no extra charge for big easements and common areas. Because Ranchero Properties owns the land, residents pay almost no taxes. With homes in Ranchero selling for up to $55,000, that means thousands in savings each year. The lot lease essentially pays for itself.

If you've lived only in apartments/condos or in-ground houses, your initial reaction may echo mine: "Trailer — tornado bait!" A recent convert, I've learned that mobile homes have evolved into manufactured yet customized residences with the same space, virtually the same safety standards (but less vulnerability to groundwater and insects), better roofs, and far greater consistency in construction than in-grounds. Factory standardization has advantages over often motley crews with hammers and nails. In Florida, where few homeowners have a second floor and almost none have attics or basements, the traditional advantages of in-grounds diminish even further. Only when I began examining foundations, supports, anchorings, coverings and add-ons did I realize how many big, solid manufactureds we have in our area.

The media and public officials have been slow to acknowledge the improvements in manufactured homes, which now routinely sell for more than $100,000 new and more than $1-million in Malibu (with $2,500-per-month lot leases). Almost every structure of every type is mobile in the sense the pieces are transported from somewhere else, and almost every building becomes mobile when a Charlie or Ivan rolls through. Yet Ranchero Village has weathered every storm for 30 years and Tarpon Lakeview for 40, and they offer charming alternatives in a largely priced-out Tampa Bay housing market.

So let us know if you're interested in relocating to Ranchero or Tarpon Lakeview, or purchasing one of these four homes as a resale or rental investment, or inspecting them on behalf of a friend or relative.

Thank you for being such a good neighbor! I sincerely hope we can be neighbors again.

Matt Lorenz

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