Tucked away off busy U.S. 19, near the corner of Belcher and Curlew roads and on the site of an old orange grove, sits Highland Woods, a 172-house gated subdivision.
It's private and peaceful — and that's the way its residents like it.
"We believe in karma," says Harold Reynolds, who bought the first house in Highland Woods in 2001. "We thought that if the orange trees liked it here for 80 years, it would be a good place for us to live."
"We were living in Crystal Beach and we saw in the paper that a family was selling off its orchard to a developer," adds his wife, Beverly.
"We really liked the area. They had started this house as a spec house and we really liked what they were doing. The orange trees in front of us had all been cleared out but there were still trees behind us."
Realtor Dick Sells said home buyers are attracted to Highland Woods because it is close to everything. "The reason they like to live there is it's convenient to the mall, the beach, Tampa and the airport. They can be anywhere they want to be in 20 minutes.
"It's a chance to be in a location where everything is around them."
Reynolds and his family appreciate the proximity of their home to Tampa during football season. He has Tampa Bay Buccaneers season tickets.
Highland Woods Homeowners Association president Jim Krichbaum, who bought his house in 2003, also values the subdivision's location. "I liked it because we are not far from the Tampa airport," he says. "The houses were nice and new and the price was right. We got a great deal."
Another positive is Highland Woods has a mix of families. "It's a very diverse subdivision," Sells says.
It's also one of the newest subdivisions built in Pinellas County, Sells says. "Pinellas County is 99.9 percent built out. There were new houses there when there weren't many new houses being built."
Realtor Sunny Duann, who works for Re/Max, says people are attracted to Highland Woods because it's a newer area in the northern part of Pinellas County and because it is gated. "There are some gated communities in the East Lake area but very few in Dunedin," she says.
Alex J. Fung, a Century 21 real estate agent, agrees that a major selling point of Highland Woods is its security, but the feeling of the neighborhood itself also plays a role. "All the houses are nice, large, two-story. Some have pools. Many are lived in by families."
And a big selling point for those families? It's back to location, says Duann, and the schools the children attend based on where they live.
From Raymond James Stadium, to Tampa International, to Palm Harbor University High, Highland Woods is just minutes away.
Patti Ewald is a freelance writer in Gulfport. She can be reached at email@example.com.