Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Habitat for Humanity townhomes in Dunedin are green, good-looking

DUNEDIN — Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas is known for building safe and affordable homes. But the organization might have outdone itself with Shady Grove Townhomes.

Pinellas Habitat's first multi-family development, the townhomes have welcoming front porches and metal roofs and sit amid moss-laden oaks, creating a picturesque scene that turns heads as people drive down Howell Street. But the benefits don't end with the homes' facades.

"A lot of what we have done is what you don't see," said Steve Lightburn, Pinellas Habitat's vice president of development. "Shady Grove Townhomes have earned Silver LEED certification."

The LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, program is a voluntary program encouraging builders to take a whole-home approach to sustainability and energy conservation. Higher standards must be met in categories including water efficiency, site choice and location, as well as energy use in finished products and building materials and indoor water quality. The program also includes green-living education classes for homeowners.

"Our homes are affordable and exceptional," said Ron Spoor, chief operations officer of Pinellas Habitat. "Our homeowners are also exceptional. They learn about their homes through sweat equity working beside contractors and volunteers. LEED requires homeowners attend 11 classes. Our homeowners participate in 13."

Interested in living in Shady Grove? Qualifying depends on income and family size.

"A family must earn 30 to 80 percent of the area's average median income," said Lightburn. "For a family of four, that would be $17,500 to $42,500. That's the No. 1 qualification because we do not give away homes. People pay for the homes. We don't give handouts; we give a hand up."

Just as the people who turn to Habitat have often seen tough times, so had that Dunedin property.

Shady Grove was once Highlander Village, a public housing complex. After three decades of housing seniors and low-income families, the buildings were in need of refurbishing. The high cost of removing lead paint and asbestos and refurbishing the dilapidated buildings led to a decision to relocate tenants and demolish the complex. The property sat as an eyesore until Habitat bid on the land in 2005.

Eventually, 19 residences will cover the 2.5 acres. Four families have moved in, and three more are waiting to move into the townhomes. The townhomes have three bedrooms with two baths or four bedrooms with two baths in 1,300 to 1,400 square feet. Each has a single-car garage and a front porch.

Yet many people who could qualify may not know that the development exists. On Saturday, Habitat held an open house for potential buyers, but only 12 people showed up.

Jennifer Brundon, 35, of Clearwater arrived early Saturday morning, but not to view the showcase home. She came to work with the crew building three more townhomes. Before noon, she had helped frame the inside walls of a bathroom. Soon, she will have her own Habitat home in Oldsmar.

"This work is a challenge, but it's an awesome opportunity," said Brundon. "My home in Oldsmar should be done by June or July. I'm here because the Habitat way is to help others. It's important to give back. I'm here to do what I can."

The Dunedin model shown during Saturday's open house was completely decorated, from drapes to flowers, and was built with double-hung windows, ceiling fans, color-coordinated Formica countertops, donated Caroma dual-flush toilets and energy-efficient Whirlpool stoves, refrigerators, washers and dryers.

Yet it might be what a buyer never sees that makes him or her smile.

Habitat homes are sold with zero-interest mortgages. Plus, according to Spoor, Habitat's attention to energy efficiency saves a homeowner about $1,030 a year in reduced energy and insurance costs.

"We work with people who are struggling, many times bringing themselves up by their bootstraps to a level where they can progress and do better than their preceding family members," said Lightburn.

"They are trying to work, go to school and raise a family," he said. "About 60 percent are single mothers, and having the opportunity to live in a safe and affordable home is really crucial to their success."

For more information about Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas or to arrange for a group to tour the Shady Grove showcase home, call (727) 536-4755. To take a virtual tour, view:

.fast facts

To learn more

For more information about Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas or to arrange for a group to tour the Shady Grove showcase home, call (727) 536-4755. To take a virtual tour, view:

Habitat for Humanity townhomes in Dunedin are green, good-looking 03/15/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 7:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Data breach exposes 469 Social Security numbers


    Social Security numbers for up to 469 people were exposed in a data breach at Florida the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The breach, which the agency believes happened about two weeks ago, occurred in an online payments system, spokesperson Jenn Meale said Monday.

    Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam on Monday that nearly 500 people may have had their Social Security numbers obtained in a data breach in his office.
[Times file photo]

  2. Trigaux: Can Duke Energy Florida's new chief grow a business when customers use less power?


    Let's hope Harry Sideris has a bit of Harry Houdini in him.

    Duke Energy Florida president Harry Sideris laid out his prioriities for the power company ranging from improved customer service to the use of more large-scale solar farms to provide electricity. And he acknowledged a critical challenge: People are using less electricity these days. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  3. Editorial: Preserve wild Florida before it's too late


    The last dairy farm in Hillsborough County has milked its final cow, the pastures sold to developers who will build 1,000 new homes. The remnants of the last commercial citrus grove in Pinellas County, where the Sunshine State's famed industry began in the 19th century, were sold last year to make room for 136 homes. …

    As dairy farms and citrus groves disappear, much more needs to be done to avoid paving over Florida’s wild spaces.
  4. Florida concealed weapons permit holders exposed in computer hack


    More than 16,000 concealed weapons permit holders in Florida may have had their names accidently made public because of a data breach at the The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

  5. Editorial: Careless words unfit for a mayor


    Even his critics marvel at how well Bob Buckhorn has grown into the job since first being elected as Tampa's mayor in 2011. His grace in public and his knack for saying and doing the right things has reflected well on the city and bestowed civic pride in the mayor's office. That's why Buckhorn's cheap shot at the media …

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn fires a .50 caliber machine gun from a rigid hull inflatable boat during a Special Operations Capabilities Demonstration at the Tampa Convention Center last year. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]