A Clearwater neighborhood is getting a big makeover. In North Marina, near downtown, street and safety improvements have already been completed and brand new apartments built. Now, Habitat for Humanity is about to add several homes, and remove blighted properties.
Two-year-old Brice likes to enjoy an afternoon snack and show off his collection of toys in the comfort of his family's brand new home they built, and earned, through Habitat for Humanity.
"I just feel so blessed and grateful and fortunate. We have a beautiful home and an affordable mortgage," said Lillian Lestoric, Habitat homeowner.
Lillian and her family saw first-hand how four Habitat homes improved their Clearwater neighborhood.
And soon Habitat is hoping to see a similar transformation in the North Marina area.
"It's really exciting. And I think over the next few years, what you'll see is single family home development, probably some more multi-family housing, and then some new businesses. And the redevelopment of the marina is going to be huge for this community as well," said Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas Co. CEO Mike Sutton.
Demo on the existing homes here will start in early March, then construction on 13 new Habitat homes will begin. The organization's looking for families to apply for the houses and volunteers to help move this neighborhood makeover forward.
With new affordable housing apartments just across the street from the new Habitat property, there's real hope the project will completely change the face of the neighborhood.
The changes are a welcome site to Pastor Bob Richardson. He moved into a Habitat home in North Marina 16 years ago, when the neighborhood was much different.
"It was really a little bit scary! There was crack houses on both sides of the street here," said Pastor Richardson.
In the last year, new construction and street improvements, have brightened things up. And he's confident the new Habitat homes, will keep a good thing going.
"It's exciting that the city's taking the effort to lift up the lives of everyone in the neighborhood," said Richardson.
If you or someone you know would like to apply for a Habitat Home, or to learn more about volunteering, visit www.habitatpinellas.org.