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PARADE OF NEIGHBORHOODS // THESE OLD HOUSES

Next weekend, come back to the city.

Residents in nine of St. Petersburg's established neighborhoods will open their doors May 19, inviting the public in to see their homes and admire their renovation efforts.

It's the fourth annual Parade of Neighborhoods, a free open house sponsored by the city of St. Petersburg, the Chamber of Commerce, the St. Petersburg Suncoast Association of Realtors, the Council of Neighborhood Associations, the Federation of Inner City Community Organizations and neighborhood associations.

If you've ever thought of buying a fixer-upper, or an existing home that needs some TLC, now's your chance to talk to the people who have done it.

If you're looking for a neighborhood to call home, or you'd like to become more familiar with parts of the city you seldom visit, this is your opportunity.

And if you simply enjoy looking at other people's homes, come on along.

"A lot of people aren't familiar with the city's neighborhoods. Or they know the style of architecture or the neighborhood character they want, but they don't know where to find it," said Bob Jeffrey, a senior city planner and member of its Neighborhood Partnership Team who is coordinating next weekend's activities. The free home tours May 19 provide an easy way for people to find those neighborhoods.

"Or people find a house that's rundown or remuddled, but they have no way to get ideas of what it could be," Jeffrey said. Meeting homeowners who have remodeled a similar home, looking at their "before" pictures, talking about what it cost and what was involved, may give some of those potential remodelers the inspiration to go ahead and do it.

"This is an opportunity to show people what the neighborhood is all about," said Joann Schulz, a developer who is active in the Uptown neighborhood and is helping organize the weekend's events. "It gives us a chance to break some stereotypes. People have an idea of what south side real estate is like, but there are some beautiful rehabs in Bartlett Park.

"It's also a real neat opportunity for people who have done a real nice job rehabbing a house to get some credit for what they've done and show off," Schulz said.

Participating neighborhoods are Bartlett Park, Coquina Key, Crescent Lake, Greater Pinellas Point, Greater Woodlawn, Historic Kenwood, North Shore, the Old Southeast, and Uptown.

Today we offer profiles of some of the neighborhoods involved in the Parade. We'll have more next weekend. Also, next Saturday a map will appear in the Home & Garden section showing the neighborhoods and listing locations where maps of the homes open for tours will be available.

Join the parade

Next weekend's activities line up this way:

Saturday May 18: From 4 to 7 p.m. a Neighborhood Block Party will be at The Pier at 800 Second Ave. N. Neighborhood associations will set up tables on the eastern end of The Pier to offer literature, photographs, maps and other information. Trolleys will take visitors on quick, free tours through the neighborhoods participating in the open houses the next day, so visitors can get an idea of where they might want to tour. There will be arts and crafts for children, door prizes and giveaways, music, clowns and magicians. Mayor David J. Fischer will present the "Neighborhood of the Year" awards at 6:30 p.m. Rain date: June 1.

Sunday, May 19: From 1 to 4 p.m. Parade of Neighborhoods open houses will be held in participating neighborhoods. Most of these houses are private homes that are not for sale; they have been chosen because they are representative of houses in the neighborhood. In addition, real estate agents will hold open houses of homes for sale in those neighborhoods. There is no rain date for the Parade of Neighborhoods.

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