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Scott Weber had the kind of idea that makes most of us shake our heads and snicker, and secretly wish we'd thought of it first. Last winter, he bought a 120- by 100-foot lot on Sunset Beach, just south of Treasure Island.

The view is stunning, but you can't build anything on it, other than a sand castle, because the lot is at the water's edge. At high tide, it can get . . . well, damp.

Okay, so to some it's just worthless sand on the beach.

But not to Scott Weber.

Here's where the plot - such as it is - thickens.

Weber decided to sell 1-inch-square sections of the land as a novelty gift. In the gift package, you get a deed to your property, a Certificate of Ownership, your Owner's Manual, and a photo of a beautiful Florida sunset.

We wrote about Weber last December. So how is his little venture going?

Florida Micro Beach Property Inc. has sold the plots, Weber says, mostly to people who live in the Northeast and Midwest. (The Web address is http://www.floridamicroproperty.com). Sales have slacked since the publicity died down last spring, so to pump up business, two weeks ago he supervised the shooting of two infomercials and a 20-minute video for local cable TV.

"I'm interviewed on the beach, and then we pan the water," Weber said. "Then we pick it up from a helicopter and fly up to Clearwater, down to the Skyway Bridge and land back at the property.

"Sort of a Magnum P.I. effect."

His point: Size doesn't matter. It's location, location, location.

"There's something about Florida that's fun to begin with," he said. "Obviously there's a reason we're the No. 1 tourist destination in the world."

Some people buy two or three plots, and most give them as birthday or retirement gifts. Valentine's Day and Christmas are popular too.

After all, nothing says love like a deed to 1 square inch of sand.

"I got one call lately from a man who was going to be a groomsman in a wedding," Weber said. "He wanted to give it to the groom. He said the groom would have enough pocket knives and wouldn't need one more."

Weber, a 33-year-old St. Petersburg real estate developer, estimates there are about 980,000 1-inch plots left to be sold, so you had better buy today, before the last one is gone.

Okay, you can buy tomorrow.

Machiavelli was right: Divide and conquer.

If you think the people at the property appraiser's office are pulling their hair out trying to handle all the tiny deeds, they're not. According to Pam Dubov, deputy property appraiser, the deeds are not being recorded. They don't have to be, unless the owner wants to claim a homestead exemption.

"We wondered what was going to happen with this," Dubov said. "But if someone owns property and transfers all or part of it, and nothing happens to update the record, then the original owner continues to get tax notices."

Which Weber does. That's part of the deal. He pays the yearly property taxes on the land.

"Boy, what if this becomes a trend and other people in the county start selling 1-inch plots?" Dubov wondered, only half-seriously. "That could get interesting."

Weber said only one buyer has shown any interest in touring his or her square inch. Alan Reed, a St. Petersburg commercial photographer, not only showed up, he even did some landscaping on his property. He bought a miniature white picket fence and a palm tree at a model railroad store.

Reed, the scofflaw, admits that he didn't pull any permits for the work.

"I go out to Sunset Beach a lot to take pictures," said Reed, 48. "I just thought it'd be nice to own some property there, and why not put something on it? This might improve property values."

Like a lot of us, Reed will be decorating for the holidays. Something tasteful. Nothing big.

"Some little people and little benches," Reed said. "And some lights would be nice too."

Better check with the neighborhood association first.

 

     
 


 

 
 
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