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PROUD HOMEOWNERS // North Shore

Five homes in various stages of restoration and rehabilitation will be on display in the North Shore neighborhood, which stretches from Fourth Street to Tampa Bay and from Fifth to 30th avenues N in St. Petersburg.

The show homes are between Fifth and Ninth avenues NE, "an area in transition," said Tim Rhode, an architect and contractor who lives in the neighborhood and walks to work at his office on Beach Drive. "A lot of houses in this area are undergoing renovation _ 5 to 10 in the last year or so in various stages. There are a lot of fine old homes, and the apartments are being upgraded too."

The best thing about the neighborhood, Rhode said, is that it is within walking distance "to the parks, shops, The Pier, the museums, hopefully one day movie theaters," referring to proposals to build a cinema complex downtown. "There are corner grocery stores you can walk to, it's like an old-fashioned city neighborhood. You don't even have to get in your car." Downtown's increasingly lively restaurant scene is also a walkable distance away.

The area between Fifth and Ninth is "definitely a coming area," said real estate agent Helen Torres of Homes by Helen, who sells many properties in the neighborhood, "especially for young people who can't afford the houses closer to the water," in the more northern reaches of the Old Northeast.

Four years ago, she said, she sold a young couple an old rooming house on Ninth Avenue NE. "For four years they did nothing but fix it up. They were clever enough to restore it to its original condition" _ restoring the hardwood floors, two fireplaces and 10-foot ceilings _ "plus put in modern-day amenities: central heat and air, a swimming pool, beautiful landscaping. It turned out to be a showplace." The couple paid in the $60s, she said; they just sold it in one week for close to $200,000.

"People have to have that vision," Torres said. "They have to have intestinal fortitude and patience."

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