< back to all blog posts

Catskills - Sullivan County - Ulster County Real Estate -- Catskill Farms Journal

Old School Real estate blog in the Catskills. Journeys, trial, tribulations, observations and projects of Catskill Farms Founder Chuck Petersheim. Since 2002, Catskill Farms has designed, built, and sold over 250 homes in the Hills, investing over $100m and introducing thousands to the areas we serve. Farms, Barns, Moderns, Cottages and Minis - a design portfolio which has something for everyone.

March 23, 2024

St Petes

For the most part, the 3 flights I took, four if you include the connection from Costa Rica to Tampa via Atlanta, all came off pretty well and for the most part on time.  Nothing is ever really on time but close enough to qualify.

A days work. 8am.

I’ve been visiting St Pete’s for a few years, and in 2021 put a deposit on a yet-to-be-built top floor condo in a 17 floor, 85 unit in Downtown.  Now it’s condo crowded, but back then, there only a few new projects around.  This one hadn’t yet started, and I was one of the first 15 to buy.  I hadn’t really realized how risky the decision was until 18 months later they still hadn’t started, and my contract - as are most yet to be built FL condo contracts- gave the developer pretty much all the discretion and power in the relationship.  Luckily, they did end up getting started and then from there things went pretty quick, and they hope to deliver the project over the summer, but to be honest, I’ll believe it when I see it.


I did get a tour of my unit - pretty much under construction - but I was able to walk through up 17 floors of construction.  Some things I loved, others were ok, but all in all, to own a pretty solid piece of real estate in the Tampa area is a good thing.  Rents are pretty robust, though I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do with it.  I’m thinking of furnishing it now, and really thought I was going to outfit it in the Palm Springs mid-century style, which I still might, but that would entail flying out there, picking it all out, shipping across the country, etc…. It would be pretty snazzy, I’ll have to figure it out.


St Pete’s is quite the robust small city.  I happen to be there over St Patty’s day, and that was happening for sure.  Took a 3.5 mile walk the one morning.  The downtown has an urban flair but pretty quickly it segues into a neighborhoody feel of cottages and single family homes on quiet streets.  The place I’m buying is on Mirror Lake, which is a pretty big lake with a 40’ ring of grass around it, and it is turning into a pretty popular spot for St Pete’s growing homeless population.

Developing is challenging.  No matter where you do it, or how you do it, it is always a pushing the rock up a hill experience.  It’s never easy - with constant problem solving with gigantic consequences.  Lots of time time and money are in short supply, so every hurdle is a challenge.  We are just over the hump on a 9 home project on 70 acres, and before that we did an 11 home project on 100 acres and before that, 16 homes on 40 acres.  We pump out a lot of homes.  Few people have our track record or longevity in this region.  Many more examples of people leaving town with their tail between their legs.  It’s risky business and we succeed because I keep my nose in every detail, every expense, every operation day to day measurement.  Anything less just creates a lane for error that can derail, permanently, a project.  Even with me watching like a hawk, the problems that arise are daily, and important to solve well.  Luckily my margins are big enough in our projects because all the unexpected costs that keep arising out of thin air of single family residential development where each lot has its own services - well, septic, gas, etc… - it’s just expensive and there are little to no economies of scale to be had like you would have in your traditional development exercise.

So now that the latest project is pretty much ‘in the bag’ even though from purely a construction standpoint we have a lot do yet, I’m starting to look at new projects, touring some land up in Ulster on Friday - 170 acres I believe. Turns out, it's still winter, so my Friday, yesterday, spent running around was done so inadaquately dressed. I spent the night up in Olivebridge since I had meetings yesterday and now today, Saturday, and it saved me 4 hours of driving. Me and my trusty air mattress.

But to tell you the truth, it was a night from hell. Heating malfunctions at one house, then another, left me a cold shell of a home of 50 degress and pretty aggravated. Then my air mattress keep losing air over time. It's one of those moments, after all the work and diligence, you just ask yourself why you are exactly doing this and putting yourself through it. Literally did everything right, and still spend my Friday night putting out fires. Now, I'm still cold, have a very stiff neck and upper back, it's raining stupid hard again like it has since September, and I have a client walk-thru in a house with no heat in a few hours.

< back to all blog posts