It may be home to celebrities and superstar athletes, but Davis Islands has never lost that community feel, says Mike Palermo. The Realtor and president of Palermo Real Estate Professionals has watched the island develop since he grew up on Danube Avenue. While the island went through a short dip in popularity through the latter half of the century, its mix of water access, privacy and proximity to Tampa’s urban core has brought residents (and wannabe residents) flocking back in the last two decades. “People rediscovered that it really is paradise in South Tampa,” says Shannon Burnett, a Realtor associate with Palermo Real Estate (and island resident). Read on to learn about five of the homes that define Davis Islands.
01. 503 DANUBE AVE (above)
“Everybody’s realized we are on the water, [so] people are trending toward that coastal style,” Burnett says. The contemporary architecture of island homes built throughout the 2010s is marked by clean lines, white or light colors and large footprints. Palermo adds that homeowners are taking their design cues from the water whether their property faces the open bay or is totally land-locked. “I think it’s just the matter of wanting to be on the island and being able to find a lot,” Palermo says. “You’re one of the lucky ones. You can’t build more land on Davis Islands.” He pauses, then reconsiders. What if someone created an additional island? “Not a bad idea.”
02. 29 LADOGA AVE.
The islands’ original Mediterranean style came roaring back in the first decade of the 2000s. “It’s the 1920s on a grander, modern scale,” Palermo says. “You’re still seeing the arched windows, the barrel-tiled roofs, the stucco finishes,” but with modern interiors and amenities. Ceilings reach 10 and 11 feet in entryways leading to the gourmet kitchens and the home’s six bedrooms. The style dominated new construction on Davis Islands until the recession, when nearly all building ceased.
03. 301 CASPIAN ST.
One of the original homes on Davis Islands, this house was designed by architect Franklin O. Adams for the vice president of D.P. Davis Properties. It exemplifies the Mediterranean style that the Davis company was after with the island’s earliest properties: a barrel-tiled roof, stucco exteriors, arches inside and out, and tall — almost ballroom-height — ceilings. The island’s oldest homes also tend to be on larger lots than its newer homes, allowing for renovations like a 2,300-square foot addition. 301 Caspian is one of the island’s most iconic homes. “If you’ve driven Davis Islands, you’ve seen this house,” Palermo adds.
04. 625 JAMAICA AVE.
Built between the 1940s and 1960s, the once-ubiquitous ranch-style homes are becoming rarer on the island. “Simply because of the price of land on Davis Islands now, unless it’s completely renovated, [a ranch is] probably going to be subject to tear down,” Palermo says, while historic Mediterraneans are more likely to be preserved and updated. But homes like 625 Jamaica Ave. still stand as an example of the classic ranch style, with an open carport, smaller footprint (only two bedrooms and one-and-a-half bathrooms) and large bay window at the front of the house. Despite the diminutive sizes of the ranches, those that have been renovated can fetch top dollar; 625 Jamaica sold for $640,000 this July.
05. 36 COLUMBIA DRIVE
Another one of the island’s most well-known homes, this property was built in 1925. Like the Caspian home, 36 Columbia features distinctive archways and a top floor porch area for outdoor dining and entertaining — vital in the time before air conditioning. This property, and others like it, helped bring discerning home-buyers to Davis Islands in its earliest days (not unlike the modern homes built in the last few years). “When Davis Islands was first created, it was kind of a swanky destination and the place to live,” much as it remains to this day, Palermo says.