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Neighborhood Profile: The Pink Streets, St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG

Some swanky neighborhoods are so pretentious they seem to have "rich person lives here" signs in the front yards.

Others are quietly swanky. People lived tucked discreetly away in hidden treasures without telling the world they can afford to do so.

The Pink Streets of St. Petersburg, located on the most southern tip of Pinellas Point, is one of those places, and Nancy Appunn, the 82-year-old retired owner of a marketing agency, is one of those people. From her mid-century home on the shore of Tampa Bay, she and her little-dog-of-unknown-lineage, Lulu, have a 180-degree view of the bay with the Sunshine Skyway in the middle of it. Paradise found.

When she and her late husband, George, decided in 1965 to move south from their lakefront Bay Village home just west of Cleveland, she had her eye on a Bahama Shores pool home. That house was located near — but not on — the bay. While on a business trip to St. Petersburg without her, he called to say he had found the perfect home.

But, what about the pool house? she asked.

"You can always put in a pool," he told her, "but you can never put in a view."

All these years later, she is delighted with their — ready for this? — $25,000 purchase. But, after all, it was 1965, when the median price of a house was about $20,000, compared with $212,000 in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The house is now valued at about $470,000, according to Zillow.

The attractive white-haired woman recalled those early days as she sat in front of the two big picture windows across the back of the house in the expansion her husband built before being stricken with Lou Gehrig's disease in 1990.

"We used to have old-fashioned hurricane parties in the '60s. All the neighbors would gather and wait for the storm," she said. There was reason to party. Her house, which has no seawall but slopes to the mangroves, is less than 100 feet from the water but has never even nearly flooded.

It's a tight-knit community to this day, she said. Neighbors look out for one another. Recently, they joined forces to block the construction of a house that was going to look like a tall concrete fortress, Appunn said.

"The best thing about this neighborhood is there's nothing cookie cutter about the houses — or the people," she said. But, there is a mode of decorum everyone is expected to abide by, and a concrete McMansion just wasn't acceptable.

Houses aren't often for sale in the Pink Streets — people stay here until they die, Appunn said — and when they are, they are snapped up quickly.

"This is a unique and delightful neighborhood of streets lined with stately shady oaks, and a broad range of houses," said Sue Barber, a Keller Williams real estate agent who focuses her sales in Pinellas Point, where she lives.

"You are only a 10-minute drive to downtown. Even when you head to the beaches, you can sneak around all the traffic that everyone else has to fight on I-275," she said.

Of course, no one has to convince Appunn. She never regrets forgoing that Bahama Shores pool home. But, wait, in a strange twist of fate years later, her son was looking for a house, and guess what home was available,

Appunn gets to swim in that pool after all.

Contact Patti Ewald at pewald@tampabay.com.

Appunn home

The home: 2,879 square feet, 3 beds, 2 baths, large deck

When they bought: 1965

Current value (from Zillow.com): $471,839

Unusual features: Between two huge picture windows across the back of the house is a porthole that opens to a view of the Skyway bridge. Nancy Appunn's late husband, George, found it while rummaging through an store that sold antique boat parts and installed it as part of the family room addition.

Why Pink Streets: In the 1920s, developer George Cook wanted to build an upscale neighborhood unlike any other. He ordered the pink streets because no one else had them. "They were thought very chic," historians say. Old plat plans show Cook originally wanted to dredge and fill a third mile out from the waterfront to make a canal neighborhood like Venetian Isles but residents love it the way it turned out: lush with curvy roads — and different. In the 1980s, when the city planned to repave its roads with blacktop, residents ponied up the extra money — thousands of dollars each, Nancy Appunn said — so they'd be paved pink again.

Neighborhood Profile: The Pink Streets, St. Petersburg 07/18/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 3:52pm]

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