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At Jordan Park: Out with old, in with new

Oak trees remain, and in one, a blue jay cackles. But it is mostly silent across the vast field once home to the Jordan Park housing project. Most of it has been knocked down, making room for fresh, new apartments.

The massive old project stood for 60 years just west of 22nd Street S. The magnitude of the emptiness now is stunning.

But the current calm awaits the next buzz of activity, and housing officials believe it will start soon.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development approved the master development plan for the Hope VI project site three weeks ago.

Heavy machinery should begin rumbling over the lot sometime early in the new year, said Darrell J. Irions, director of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority.

"I can't wait to see things going up," Irions said.

Early work will involve such chores as laying water and sewer lines, among other "infrastructure" elements. After that, serious work on the new apartments can start.

The first residences open will be for senior tenants and are expected to be ready sometime in 2001, Irions said. The entire $50-million project _ whose main component is a $27-million federal Hope VI grant _ is still on schedule to be completed in 2002, officials said.

The oak trees, some of them decades old, will remain as part of the landscaping, Irions said.

About 55 units, mostly on the project's west side close to 25th Street S, remain to be moved.

"Everything seems to be moving along pretty well. Not as fast as we'd like, but pretty well," said authority chairman J.W. Cate.