When people dream of retirement, they may picture a neighborhood like Mainlands in Pinellas Park. It's peaceful yet active, immaculate and friendly. It operates as a condominium, but there are no apartments. Most of the 3,500 residents live in single-family homes. It's a 55-and-older community.
BOUNDARIES: About 87th to 101st Terrace N between 34th and 45th ways off U.S. 19.
HISTORY: According to Skip Duffield of Mainland Master Association, developer Ken Behring brought the concept of single-family homes operating as a condo association from Fort Lauderdale in 1967. He purchased 1 square mile of wasteland from the Ed Wright estate and began educating people about the advantages of condominium living. In 1968, Behring's models sold for $9,500 to $20,000.
After five years, he sold to Leadership Homes of California. In 1974, Leadership sold to a Tampa Group, Mainlands Construction Co. The Pinellas Park development is called The Mainlands of Tamarac by the Gulf. It's named after the largest of its lakes, 14-acre Lake Tamarac.
ORGANIZATION: There are about 1,937 homes, 110 of which are villas. There are seven units in Mainlands, each operating with its own board of directors. Most are off the 2\-mile Mainlands Boulevard loop divided by a palm-lined parkway. Unit 7 opened in the late 1980s with villas (attached units). Units 1-6 have single-family homes.
Each unit sends its president, vice president and treasurer to the Master Association. The Master Association elects its own board of directors. Each unit is allowed one vote.
The Master Association makes decisions concerning common areas owned by all units. They include such things as streets, storm drains, entranceway monuments and landscaping.
Each unit's board and residents determine monthly maintenance costs and services included. Monthly fees range from $110 to $170. They include lawn cutting, sodding and fertilizing. Fees also include washing/painting exteriors and roofs, and roof repairs and replacements. Some include cable television. Water bills are divided evenly among all residents.
Each unit has a clubhouse, heated swimming pool and activities. Five own the clubhouses, two have 99-year leases. Most have covered barbecue areas and shuffleboard.
HOUSING: All homes in Units 1-6 are painted white with white tile roofs. Residents choose shutter and door colors. Ten selections are free. Residents buy paint for others. Noted colors were cranberry, gold, black, soft green, powder blue, pink and grey. Unit 7 villas are earth-tone with blue cloth awnings.
Homes range from $40,000 to $125,000. They are mostly two bedrooms, two baths. Some have two-car garages. Sliding screen doors have converted some garages into screened rooms.
Home sizes range from 850 square feet to more than 2,000 square feet. Most have a Florida room or sun porch. Some homes overlook lakes, Mainlands (public) Golf Course or Freedom Park. Rowboats, paddleboats and canoes are allowed on Lake Tamarac. Fishing is also permitted. City bus service is available.
Lush, green lawns sprawl among the homes. No fences or hedges are permitted. Residents maintain their own shrubbery and trees. Neatly contoured bushes are cut as squares, mushrooms, circles and triangles. Lemon, orange and grapefruit trees flourish. Brown cottontail rabbits and herons are frequent visitors.
No "for sale" signs are allowed in yards. Some are in windows. Numerous flagpoles display our nation's flag. There are also colorful bunny and cardinal flags hanging from houses. Homes have chairs on front porches. Neighbors smile and wave.
There's an active Neighborhood Watch and Pinellas Park police have a substation in Unit 5.
MISCELLANEOUS: Residents can stay busy day and night. There are women's and men's clubs, card parties, bingo, dances and pancake breakfasts.
There are a large number of retired military, teachers and firemen according to Duffield. "They are happy here," he said. "People don't leave here unless they die or go into a home."