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
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,
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
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
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
"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
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
"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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