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NEIGHBORHOOD SPOTLIGHT: HARBORDALE

Harbordale is a tree-shaded neighborhood on the verge of a major comeback. Building permits are displayed in windows. Recently installed speed humps are popular with homeowners. Early-morning risers are mowing lawns with the sound of songbirds in the background. Tranquil Salt Creek winds through the community, attracting stately white herons among its protected mangroves.

BOUNDARIES: 22nd to 30th Avenue S between Fourth and Dr. M.L. King streets S.

SCHOOL ASSIGNMENT: elementary - Azalea and Woodlawn; middle - Sixteenth Street; high school - Gibbs High School.

HISTORY: According to Guide to St. Petersburg Neighborhoods, the area is part of the original city of St. Petersburg that extended from downtown to Pinellas Point. Citrus and pineapple groves were abundant. Three dusty, shell-covered roadways eased travel. They were 22nd Avenue (also called Lakeview Avenue), Tangerine Avenue and Maximo (now 31st Street S). Development began in the 1920s.

Salt Creek was once navigable water, and boats brought goods between Bayboro Harbor and Lake Maggiore. Trinity United Methodist Church, 2401 Fifth St. S, may be the oldest building with historical significance. A section of the original 1927 structure is still in use. The church has expanded to a full city block.

HOUSING: Home prices range from about $25,000 to $58,000, according to a local Realtor. Recent duplexes and four-plexes were listed for $35,000 to $45,000. Boarded homes are attracting investors.

Homes generally built in the 1920s and 1930s tend to be east of Seventh Street S while those between Seventh and Dr. M.L. King streets S were constructed in the 1950s.

Modest wooden bungalows, modern masonries, brick and fieldstone homes can be seen. Two stories are popular, often divided into up and down two-family units. Although ground litter is still a challenge in some areas, most homes have shrubbery and neatly maintained yards. Chain link and white picket fences provide privacy. Flowering ixora, hibiscus and fruit trees can be found.

Age-old oaks draped in Spanish moss often shade streets.

Carports and one-car garages are the norm. There are sidewalks, fireplaces, smokers and outdoor barbecues. Windows include double hung, jalousies, picture windows and bay windows. Screened front porches and outdoor chairs are popular.

COMMERCIAL: Among small businesses along Fourth and Ninth streets S are a barber shop, beauty salon, florist, convenience store and gas station. Day care centers, an assisted living facility and South Heritage Health and Rehabilitation Center are seen. The neighborhood is also home to the Weekly Challenger newspaper office. Babcock Furniture is building a new store on Dr. M.L. King Street S at 22nd Avenue.

TRIVIA: Harbordale has an active neighborhood association whose leadership has obtained large wooden entrance markers and an alligator logo on street signs. Alligators are known to explore the banks of Salt Creek. The association also led a successful five-year battle to obtain government approvals to trim the creek mangroves.

On Nov. 15 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. the neighborhood will kick off its Operation Commitment Celebration with free food and fun. It's happening on the grounds of Trinity United Methodist Church. Organizers say the program puts about $100,000 into neighborhood infrastructure.

There's a friendliness about the neighborhood. Most residents were ready for Halloween with numerous decorations. One home on Eighth Street S welcomed autumn with colorful leaves attached to windows. On 29th Avenue S, instead of lemonade, children were advertising fruit-flavored crushed ice cups. Their sign reads, "FLIPS 25 cents great tasting and very healthy."

_ JOANNE B. WALKER

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