Monica Breeding's dream home took six years to build.
The city demolished a dilapidated mobile home park in 2007, envisioning a pristine new neighborhood to sprout from the rubble. Officials hoped the roughly 2-acre plot of land on Fourth Avenue NE, formerly the Marine Mobile Home Park just behind Largo High School, would become Eleanor Oaks, a five-house, environmentally friendly, single-family subdivision.
But after buying the parcel for about $326,000, the city's money was tight. So the project stalled and stalled - until last year, when Pinellas County agreed to help finance the construction of five houses.
"We got so lucky. We found the perfect place," said Breeding, who moved into the development's first 1,200-square-foot home in March with her husband, Scott, and their 2-year-old son, William. "We're still decorating it, making it ours. We just had William's birthday party here."
Largo financed Eleanor Oaks through the nonprofit Largo Area Housing Development Corp. with county grant money. The city's affordable housing program offers down payment help to new homeowners, said housing manager Matt Anderson. Largo holds a second mortgage up to $45,000 on their behalf, to be paid back when they sell the home.
"The idea was to buy distressed properties and build new, energy-efficient houses," Anderson said. "It's part of making the city a better place to live."
The Breedings bought their beige house at 460 Fourth Ave. NE for $153,000. It has three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a one-car garage. William, his mom said, likes to play in the tree-lined back yard, chasing bugs.
Green features include a metal roof, Energy Star appliances, insulated windows made to resist hurricanes, and natural gas for air-conditioning and water heating. The walls are insulated with concrete form technology, which, Anderson said, is structurally tough.
The Breedings, who moved from a Clearwater condo, learned about the neighborhood in June at St. Petersburg's Home Ownership for People Everywhere Expo. They jumped on the opportunity to buy an affordable home, Monica said, signing the papers "as soon as possible."
"It has been amazing," she said. "How else can you move from a two-bedroom condo to a new three-bedroom house? We're extremely grateful."
Construction began in March on the next Eleanor Oaks house. Four remain for sale.
Danielle Paquette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4224.