Treasure Island’s Sunset Beach featured in Mary Kay Andrews double murder mystery

This Tampa Bay cozy mystery lets us visit all our beloved St. Petersburg haunts.

Mary Kay Andrews has real Tampa Bay ties. She set one of her earliest books — Lickety Split — in St. Petersburg, and if you go to her beach house in Georgia, you’ll find Munch’s ketchup squeeze bottles on the table.

I loved her books even before I knew any of those things, and I love her more now for it. Whenever review copies of her books show up at work, I can’t wait to get home and read them.

Sunset Beach was no different. Except that, instead of being set in any of the other amazing Southern places, Andrews set it in Sunset Beach, in Treasure Island. Of course, she threw in a one night stand, murder, and another murder.

And Sunset Beach is a pretty cool little beach. It’s the new McMansions mixed with old beach cottages, and Andrews captures the vibe of the two worlds perfectly. 

Sunset Beach brings Andrews back to Tampa Bay, to the area of Treasure Island known as Sunset Beach. And while I’d love to give you all the plot, well, no. You’re gonna have to read it.

And read it you should, because Sunset Beach is Andrews in high form.

I will say this: You can revisit the Sandman Motel, the St. Petersburg Police Department, beach bars and a prominent St. Petersburg law firm if you read the book.

And, uh, it’s up to you to decide what’s real. But even if it’s totally fake — or even if it’s all real — it’s a fantastic read, and hey, who doesn’t love a beach read?

Even if there are dead bodies on the beach.

This article initially appeared in Creative Loafing

Tips for driving Florida Interstates

This morning I was heading across the Howard Frankland into the trusty ol’ CL Tampa offices when I found myself engaging in a fantasy sequence whereby I made a quick u-turn at the next exit and headed down to Big Pine Key, where I worked for the Citizen and wrote books and my husband ran the local Sea Tow franchise.

This all derailed when I realized the next exit was the Veterans, and not even the Florida Keys is worth braving that shit at 9 a.m.

Point is, driving 275 from St. Pete to Tampa is… mentally exhausting. On the days where I can’t time my drive to avoid the bulk of the traffic, my brain overflows with things I’d like to Tweet if I were stupid enough to pick up my phone while I was driving. Here’s a sampling:

I’m going 75, and a Porsche swerves out from behind me, passes on the right, swerves back in front of me and has to hit the brakes because the car in front of him is also only going 75: Nice car. Sorry about your penis.

Just past the 22nd Ave. N. exit heading south: The left two lanes are left exits every damn day, people. Every. Damn. Day. If you’re shocked by this you should not be operating a motor vehicle.

After a five-minute slowdown because there’s a disabled vehicle in the emergency lane — of oncoming traffic: It’s not in our lane. It’s not even on our side of the road. The accident is almost a whole count over. WTF is wrong with you people?

Why I will vote for Bruce Plesser today

A while back, after Bruce Plesser qualified to run for the Ward 1 seat in Gulfport, he called me. He asked what I thought of him.

I had the words on my tongue: “I think you’re a professional shit disturber” — and then it hit me: that’s exactly what people have said about me, most notably when I worked for The Gabber and was paid to write an opinion column. It was, in essence, my job to get people talking and thinking. That meant, in many people’s eyes, I was a “professional shit disturber” and often times that one facet of my whole self was all people chose to see. They didn’t see my passion, my kindness, my vulnerability — or my intentions.

So I closed my mouth, not wanting to dash off a judgment based on a person I’d never spoken a word to in real life, and, instead, I listened to Bruce — the person, not the online persona — and I found that I liked him. I mean, he seems like a nice guy to have political debate with. A little self-centered, maybe, but given that he’s running for office, he kind of has to be, and it’s not as though anyone’s ever accused his opponent of looking outward more than inward.

That all said, if the past two years had gone differently, I’d probably still vote for his opponent, the incumbent. But I’m not. And here’s why:

I’ve not spent any time in person with Bruce, but I have with his opponent. And I know the incumbent’s heart because he’s pretty ballsy about showing his true colors, especially when it comes to national and state politics, and even St. Pete’s mayoral race where he bought advertising to trash Kriseman (and, hey, isn’t Kriseman a liberal Jew? I’m sure there’s no connection there because we all know the current national leadership is all about love, amirite?).

As of the 2016 presidential election and the hate mongering it’s allowed to bubble forth, I’m no longer a moderate Dem — I’m way the hell out in left field and I’m not coming back anytime soon. And you know what? I’ll take anyone over a gun-toting Trump supporter who doesn’t believe all humans deserve basic healthcare. Bruce’s opponent has always been nice enough to me, and Gulfport elections are nonpartisan in name, but I cannot, in good conscience, vote for someone who supports Trump and the party that put him there.

Bruce isn’t perfect. I’ve talked to him on the phone and I have seen him on social media. But I’ve watched his opponent try and trash St. Pete’s mayor on social media, all to try get a man in office who supports Trump. I’ll take a human with imperfections and a liberal soul and conscience over a human with imperfections and a Trump-supporting agenda. I can’t vote for someone who supports a political party that looks the other way on machine guns killing kids, or pushes the idea that Planned Parenthood sold or sells baby parts. 

Bruce isn’t perfect. I’ve seen it online, sure. But I’ve also seen his opponent use his station on council to bash President Obama when we wanted to support LGBT rights on a national level. Tell me again how Gulfport city council elections are nonpartisan?

Bruce isn’t perfect. But we currently have two Trump supporters on city council and if we lose a liberal majority in next year’s election, I see a lot of things we all love about Gulfport — diversity embraced, programming for people who can’t otherwise afford it, and social programming — on the chopping block to cut taxes (which are minimal compared to county, school board and water management district taxes). Even if Bruce loses today, we still have the liberal majority (Yay, Paul Ray, Michael Fridovich and Mayor Sam), but what happens next year? What if someone beats Fridovich next year who’s like Bruce’s opponent, politically? What happens if Sam chooses not to run again and we get the equivalent of Rick Baker as mayor?

I can assure you the new Republican party is working long and hard to keep every republican in office, at every station. Democrats and all Regan Republicans need to get our shit together and keep every Dem, everywhere, in office — and get more of them in office whenever we can.

See, I’ve endorsed Mr. Plesser’s opponent in the past, but it’s a new world. I no longer can support someone who has done some good things for Gulfport when they’ve been clear and vocal that they do support 45 — a man aligned with Putin, who blames Jews for any interference in the 2016 elections, a man who says gun control isn’t the issue, “racial disparity” is, a man who feels that money is above all else. So, no disrespect to the incumbent, who will most likely win because, well, incumbents rarely lose in Gulfport, but my core values will no longer allow me to support any republican, anywhere.

Good luck, Bruce Plesser for Gulfport City Council. I’m voting for you today. If you can vote in Gulfport, I encourage you to do the same. Don’t do it for me, or even for Bruce. Do it for #theResistance.


Gulfport Police Chief Speaks on Crime Watch (Bonus Track: Hard Candy, Redux)

Believe it or not, my voice is not the loudest and my post about some horrible things a (now former) member of a Gulfport Crime Watch page posted – and a (now former) admin refused to delete is not what spurred the city to act. My voice is but one of many in this instance, because Gulfport city management and police heard from several residents and business owners who were shocked and scared by the statement and – more importantly – the (now former) admin’s assertion that he “saw nothing” that warranted action.

Responding to complaints from members of a local crime watch Facebook page – I can’t share the link because the page has gone “underground” and more on that in a bit – the chief took some steps to fix the problem. I encourage you to read his latest blog post. If you really, truly can’t be bothered to read it, just know this: He reiterated that while GPD tries to help any crime watch type of group as resources allow, this group is not a city group. He also added that, in light of recent events, the city required the group sign a standard agreement (well, it’s standard in Gulfport) that includes agreeing they won’t violate the city’s human rights ordinance. Effectively, the next time this happens, this group can’t use city facilities anymore.

I also found the last paragraph quite interesting:

“While I cannot speak to the status of the ‘Gulfport Community Crime Watch’, it is important to note that this is not the only such group in town. Crime watch is, at its very heart, a simple and informal arrangement between neighbors. If anyone is interested in forming a crime watch organization anywhere in Gulfport, please feel welcome to contact us for information on how to get started.”

If I had to guess, I would guess our chief perhaps wants to start a real crime watch, possibly one with trained volunteers and ongoing education. If I’m correct, it’s about damn time. Gulfport does have one other Facebook group that has less bickering, casting aspersions and placing blame and more “be on the lookout” type of neighborhood watch bulletins, and while it’s not run the police department or partnered with them in any way, you may want to hop over and like the page. I mean, it isn’t nearly as entertaining a read as the other crime watch page, but it does seem to post more actual information about crime and safety (and lost dog) related occurrences, so that’s kind of useful.

I suggest this because Gulfport Crime Watch may not let you join their group if you can’t prove yourself. Before I continue, let me be clear: Many of my neighbors and friends and acquaintances belong to that group, and when I refer to Gulfport Crime Watch, I refer to the people managing the page, not the entire group. Which is now a “closed” Facebook group that has apparently decided to conduct interviews before allowing people to join the group. Now, I’m no longer in the group – apparently I’m part of the problem, which I’ve heard before from better – but from screen shots I’ve seen of the discussion taking place over there, the entire group gets to vote on every new member. That’s 218 people as of this afternoon, and before the admin will approve your request to join, you have to state why you want to join, whether you live in Gulfport, and so forth. If they determine your interest is, in essence, pure, then they will allow you to join.

They are currently debating whether or not to allow the editor of the local paper and the local reporter “in” to the group. I would suggest to them that they probably go ahead and give those two a pass, even though neither lives in Gulfport and even though one of them is a good friend. One of the former group administrators wrote “I remember a reporter. Kinda iffy”  and I’m pretty sure he meant me, which is funny, because some of the posts in this group tell me the leadership fails to realize that had the admin deleted the first comment, there would have been no blog post, no city action, no cadre of angry and fearful citizens calling the city… in short, their lack of accountability hurt them, not my pulling back the sheet.

Making a crime watch group a “members-only” scenario smacks a little bit of a good ol’ boys club, and I’m not sure they aren’t making a whole lot more trouble for themselves. The new admin – who really does seem to want to get things refocused and under control but some of the inmates aren’t having any of that nonsense now that he’s giving them a voice in how they run the asylum – is so busy making rules and voting people on or off the island, it doesn’t seem there’s much crime watch going on over there anymore.

I hope fervently someone takes Chief Vincent up on his offer to start a legitimate crime watch program, one he feels confident supporting.

Some days I can’t believe humans actually managed to put a man on the moon, I really can’t.

Opossum. And Racism. But Opossum.

Here’s a cute picture of a tiny opossum Scuppers brought me as a gift (don’t worry, the opossum was safely returned to nature.)

Ralph the opossum
Totally adorable. Filled with fleas, but adorable. Hold onto that for the next few paragraphs, OK?

You’re going to need all that cuteness to remind you sometimes good things happen and make you smile.  Because, quite honestly, this post will upset you. It should upset you.

Sometimes it’s harder to stay silent than I would like. This is one of those times.

Gulfport has a crime watch group. It is not, I should note, sanctioned by the police in any way, something Gulfport Police Chief Rob Vincent has gone out of his way to stress to the media. However, they use city facilities rent free (they meet in a facility for which the city typically charges rental fees), and on-duty police officers attend the meetings and speak and answer questions. In addition, their Facebook group has a shot of the entire Gulfport Police Department as its cover photo.

Before you read any further, please hear this: The Gulfport, Florida police department consists of good and kind men and women, and in 13 years of working with them, both professionally as a journalist and personally as a resident, I’ve never found a shred of anything to suggest we have an institutional problem with race relations in our departments. Never. Our officers are not part of this problem.

This post appeared on the Crime Watch Facebook group last week. Wednesday, I believe.

Gulfport Crime Watch
I had to read this several times to make sure someone was that hateful. Yup. They are.

Sundown signs, for those of you who neither enrolled in Southern History college courses nor grew up in a town that had, as we now call it, “racial issues”, warned black people that if they dared set foot in that town after the sun set, they’d… well, quite honestly, they’d be lynched. Except they didn’t say “black” if they mentioned black people. They used another word, which I will not post here.

I'm ashamed of what I had to type into Google to find this sign.
I’m ashamed of what I had to type into Google to find this sign.

I left this crime watch group several months back. I grew tired of hearing people complain about “those kids” from Childs Park (which means black kids, because apparently Gulfport has no black people, which comes as a huge shock to many of my neighbors who – spoiler alert – happen to be black.) I got so tired of being angry at the page admins for allowing this and citing “free speech” which (another spoiler alert) isn’t what that means at all, Mr. Tim Spencer* (Tim Spencer runs the Facebook page and, as far as I can tell, the physical group).

But staying silent isn’t working. These people aren’t 87-year-old grandfathers who might spew a racial belief from their childhood but not fully understand it. They know what they’re saying. They’re the new breed of racist. They’re the most dangerous kind, more dangerous than the Aryan Nation or people who walk around with swastikas inked on their arm, because unless they show their ass, we don’t know. They’re fostering hate and allowing hate speech and not giving a rat’s red ass about how the black people who read that post feel, not just about those people, but Gulfport and everyone who lives and loves here.

To my knowledge, the city seemed somehow unaware of this post until this weekend. A resident contacted the council, police chief, and city manager, and Ward Two councilperson Christine Brown contacted the city manager (by the terms of Gulfport’s charter, elected officials cannot talk to anyone but charter staff – the city manager, attorney and clerk – about city matters). I have high hopes the city will take appropriate action, although I’m uncertain what they can do.

As for you, you can email the city council, police chief and city manager and ask them to stop allowing this group to use city facilities for free. Ask them to stop providing on-the-clock officers to this group. Remind them Gulfport has a history of tolerance, not just that dark spot that every southern town seems to have. Tell them we want our past to stay past. You can email them all at once at this link.

Oh, yeah… one more thing: Mr. Dino Della Noce owns South Pinellas Bicycles, where El Cap and I bring our bikes for repair. He does excellent work. Unfortunately, now that I know he’s a crazy fucking racist, we need a new bike shop. I encourage no violence (of course) but if you patronize South Pinellas Bicycles, STOP. And tell everyone you know this is a dangerous man who wants to set our lovely town back in time 60 years.

Hate has no place in my town.

*”Free speech” means the government can’t throw you in jail for expressing an opinion, but even that has exceptions. The First Amendment to the US Constitution says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The first amendment refers to government only. Free speech does not mean any private venue must allow you to say what you want. It doesn’t mean you can incite violent acts, ever. It means when someone spews hate speech online, the page manager can delete it. In fact, if you don’t, I believe you can get sued. 

Every Duck Has a Story… Free Creative Writing Camp in Gulfport

In 1983 I was headed for middle school. Swimming around in my 10-year-old head were vague notions that I would one day “be a writer.” I had no clue exactly what that entailed; I certainly couldn’t imagine that as the rest of the world poured themselves into the local bar for happy hour on Friday night, I’d be hunkered down in the BatCave, typing away as Calypso curled around my legs and plopped her chin on my foot. I had no clue what “being a writer” meant, but I clearly didn’t understand it meant baring my soul for money and having editors treat it as a commodity.

Had I known those things, though, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Even at a naive 10, I had the inklings of what it felt like to have a compulsion to write the stories I saw in my head. I knew the voices in my head weren’t real, exactly, but I also knew, to paraphrase Morgan Freeman, the things that happened to the voices in my head really happened to them. My imagination was real to the people I imagined.

That summer, my mom sent me to a creative writing kids workshop at the  Clearwater Public Library.   I can’t recall who taught it, but 31 years later I remember some of things the lady leading the workshop told me.

The most important thing she told me? That I could find stories everywhere. That squirrel in the tree? He has a story. Tell it. (Little did she know I would take her so seriously and write about squirrels, pigs and ducks…)

I make my living telling stories. Most are true, but the most fun I have writing are the ones that aren’t. The real stories of real people who exist only in my head. I will forever owe my parents – my mother and father alike are wonderful, creative, funny, and wildly intelligent people, and they gave me every opportunity to be the same sort of person – as well as a host of other adults who fostered that creativity in the 10-year-old me. I earn my living as a writer, and it’s because of experiences like that creative writing workshop so long ago.

That’s why I am thrilled to lead a week-long creative writing camp for kids, co-sponsored by Keep St. Pete Lit and Gulfport’s City of Imagination. Keep St. Pete Lit celebrates and promotes our literary community – that’s greater St. Pete, not just the city proper. They’re all about getting kids to read and write, too. City of Imagination supports the arts in Gulfport (seriously, that’s their mission statement, short and sweet and awesome.)

We didn’t have a lot of money when I was a kid. I was lucky that workshop was free. Because Keep St. Pete Lit, City of Imagination, and I all believe every kid should have a chance to be creative, no one’s charging for this camp, which means kids can come for free, as long as they’re heading into fourth through ninth grade (we’ll totally accept your donations, but we don’t require them.) The camp will meet from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. July 28 through August 1. All you have to do is email me to sign up for the class; we do have to limit class size, so don’t wait until the last minute. 

I promise your kids will have fun being silly and writing things. I promise I’ll show them how to be braver in their writing. I absolutely do not promise they will learn anything, although I can’t stop them…

St. Petersburg Goes Danish?

I ran into a guy at the Saturday Morning Market last week who told me he was working with a group at USF St. Petersburg. He said they were working on getting city bikes, a la Aarhus or Copenhagen, for downtown St. Petersburg.

I gave him my information but somehow failed to get his. Does anyone know anything about this? I’ve long thought it would be a fantastic idea and, if I wasn’t hallucinating, am thrilled to see it brought to the Burg.


A Letter to St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker

This column originally appeared in the Gabber Newspaper.

Hard Candy

Dear St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker:

Last month you killed eight-year-old Paris Whitehead-Hamilton.

You didn’t pull the trigger, but had the power to prevent her murder and others like them. Paris could still be alive if you had acted on the pleas of your residents but you chose instead to sit in the shadows and deny a problem in her neighborhood.

Gang-related gunshots killed a little girl whose only misfortune was living in Bartlett Park, that part of St. Petersburg you’ve steadfastly maintained doesn’t have a crime problem. It’s an area of the city where residents quickly learn the difference between gunshots and firecrackers, where anything not locked down gets stolen, and where everyone knows you can buy crack or pot. It’s an area of the city that you cannot possibly begin to fix without some admission of a problem from your office; an admission you have given neither the voters nor the officers who risk their lives in that neighborhood.

At Paris’ funeral her minister said that when she fell down righteousness stood up. He was wrong; righteousness is running scared and you’re leading the charge. If you weren’t you would walk Bartlett Park at night and see the environment where these children grow up. You would talk to the people who live in these crime-soaked neighborhoods and not rely on others to tell you how it is. You would have the courage to stand beside these residents — who would support you and your police officers if you only took one teeny tiny step toward righteousness and admitted it isn’t a great day in St. Petersburg if you live in Bartlett Park.

Your police force has some excellent officers. I know because I lived in Bartlett Park for three years and had many an occasion to call them. I knew it wasn’t a perfect neighborhood but curved archways, hardwood floors, pre-war construction and your Pollyanna speeches persuaded me that things really couldn’t be that bad.

When it became apparent that drug crimes and all their offspring, from petty theft to murder, had a tighter grip on my neighborhood than I initially believed, I trusted your well-worn line: “It’s another great day in St. Petersburg.” I believed you were sincere about changing things; I thought you would try and fix whatever problems the neighborhood had.

What I didn’t know was that you turned your back on your police officers and residents. I didn’t expect that when I interviewed you for an article two years ago you would deny a crime problem in midtown. I didn’t know you would flush an angry red and accuse me of spinning a story when I asked about crime in Bartlett Park. I have you on record that the people who took issue with the city’s approach to midtown represented a “not unhealthy conflict.” That’s where you stood two years ago outside the shiny new midtown Sweetbay. Where do you stand today? Don’t let your minions tell you where you stand; what do you believe in your heart?

Is the situation in midtown still “not unhealthy”? Is it “not unhealthy” that a little girl will never know the sweetness of a first kiss or the keening of a first heartbreak because you refused to answer the pleas of your residents? Is it “not unhealthy” that you failed to give a little girl a safe neighborhood to grow up in? It’s time to take the responsibility for what you wrought by placing public relations over the safety of St. Petersburg’s children.

Go talk to your police — not the chief, but your patrol. Ask them if they knew of gang activity in Bartlett Park. Then ask them why they couldn’t stop it. Odds are all 500 of your officers aren’t incompetent. Maybe they couldn’t stop it because they are grossly understaffed for crime of the magnitude seen in Bartlett Park and the rest of midtown. As I understand it, your police force is short roughly 50 officers. If you can find the money for traffic control every time the city hosts a bike race or arts festival why can’t you find the money for officers to keep gangs from killing little girls?

It’s time to stand up beside the neighborhood that had to bury a little girl with her stuffed bunny. You’re a parent; can you not feel their pain? Can you still coldly look the media in the face and tell us it’s another great day in St. Petersburg? If one estimate of how often a Bartlett Park murder takes place is right, someone else will die violently there by Halloween.

That little girl’s blood is on your hands. The young woman she could have been, the world she could have changed, the lives she could have touched — their absence from this world is your cross to bear long after you aren’t mayor anymore. I hope you think about Paris’ family in church this Sunday, missing their baby girl. The little girl who still could be alive if only you had the courage to say, “I think we have a crime problem in midtown” instead of “It’s another great day in St. Petersburg.”

And I hope on Monday morning you find a way to stand up.

Cathy Salustri

And Yet ANOTHER Great Day in St. Petersburg

Mayor Baker, would you care to read this and then tell me that again?

So, as many of you know, I live in Bartlett Park which, as Mayor Baker has said, doesn’t have a crime problem. Crime, the good Mayor insists with all the passion of a politician with his eye on a higher office or perhaps a board appointment, is DOWN in St. Petersburg.

And now I would like to quote Gulfport Police Chief Curt Willocks: “Crime rate doesn’t matter if you’re the victim.”

ANXIETY ALERT: Mother, please don’t read this!

I fell asleep at a friend’s house last night. At about 3 am, my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number so I didn’t pick up, but they left a voice message. It was my alarm company, Pinnacle Security, and they told me I had an alarm at my house and they needed me to call them.

Of course, that’s when my phone lost its signal. But I had two numbers on file with the company- Shelly and Tom- and when they couldn’t reach me, they started calling my emergency numbers. I answered and told them that I was NOT at home, it was NOT a false alarm, and they needed to send the police. They already had (my alarm has an intercom system, and when I didn’t answer that they dispatched the police), so I told them I was on my way home.

When I got there the police were already there, checking everything out. I unlocked my door and they went in. No one had been inside, and when I went in and checked nothing was stolen. But my bedroom window was smashed in. The police figure that the person or persons smashed the window, heard the alarm, and took off. A little broken glass and a few hours spent boarding up a window and I was back to sleep. I am so impressed that the alarm company did exactly what they promised and it actually prevented a larger crime. The alarm paid for itself several times over last night, and if you live in the southside (or near the southside) and are reading this, I encourage you to get an alarm system today. My day would have been wildly worse today had I not done that a few months ago.

Bartlett Park has also developed a great e-mail network, so while the crime scene techs dusted for prints and I wondered if this was REALLY my life, I let my neighbors know (via e-mail) what was going on. I am touched by the e-mails and phone calls I received today offering support and I wonder how many other neighborhoods have such a network. I mean, what happened wasn’t a big deal (I and my animals are unharmed and nothing was stolen), but it’s nice to know that other people in your neighborhood will watch out for you, and it’s nice for them to know what kinds of crime are in the top ten this week. A neighboring crime watch e-mailed my e-mail to many and reminded them to lock their doors and check their alarms, a reminder we all need sometimes.

That alone won’t change things around here, and since I am apparently committed to the neighborhood, I’ll tell you what I think.

The officers indicated to me that the police could use a fully staffed force, something our Mayor insists we have and few southside residents believe.

So I implore my city again: Could we PLEASE admit we have a crime problem in St. Pete and add a few officers? Help the ones on the street out, please. They’re doing a good job but they could do it so much better with more officers.Of course, that would mean admitting a crime problem actually exists, and apparently our Mayor is wont to do that.

And, FYI- the police say that the criminals probably smashed the window with a sock-covered hand, and they said in many cases people are so blatant that they walk down the street with socks on their hands. So if you see a sock-handed person sauntering down your street, call the cops.

After all, they need all the help they can get. God knows our Mayor doesn’t give a rat’s red ass about helping keep our neighborhoods safe.

Go ahead, prove me wrong, Mayor Baker. I triple dog dare you.

Foreclosure in Bartlett Park

No, not me. But there’s a house on my street that’s been foreclosed on and the bank is auctioning off. If you’ve been to my house, you probably know which one I mean- the cute little cottage with the stone (I think it’s fake, but hell, it’s still cute) front. When I moved in two (almost three now) years ago, it sat empty. People ask about it all the time.

The Department of Elder Affairs came in and made some repairs on behalf of the owners, and I had the chance to see the inside. I thought it would be trashed and while it does need some work, it’s in pretty good shape. When I saw it the wood floors looked pretty good and it had a nice big living room and a fireplace.

My point in telling you all this? There’s an open house tomorrow and next Saturday, and I’m pretty sure whoever comes by can get the house for a song. So if you have the sort of spirit for renovations, you can own a home that, in about five or ten years, will be in a pretty cool part of town.

I think the place needs appliances, but I can tell you from experience that appliances (washer, dryer, fridge, and oven) will set you back anywhere from $1200 to $2000, and other than that I think whoever buys it could move right in and do the work that it needs while they live there. Hell, if you buy it and don’t plan to rent it out, I’ll help you refinish the floors (I’ve done that three times and it’s not as bad as you might think).

I’m posting this because it’s a decent house and I would love to see someone come in and fix it up a bit and take care of it. It’s been empty far too long. If you haven’t ever bought a house because real estate’s been too expensive this is right up your alley.

Oh, and about the neighborhood- yeah, well, it ain’t perfect. But thanks to our neighborhood association, the Bartlett Park Crime Watch, and a pretty fine group of police officers, things are much better than they were a year ago. I mean, don’t leave your scooter outside and unlocked or anything, but I can honestly say I have NEVER feared for my safety here. As for your immediate neighbors? Gail lives on one side and she’s a FANTASTIC neighbor. The house next store is up for sale, too, but it’s going for almost $200k. I would be shocked if this house sold for half that.

One more thing: if you want to buy this house as an investment rental, please don’t. We don’t need more rentals here; we need owner occupieds. Trust me, the grief from me alone when your tenants act up will be enormous. I want neighbors, not transients.

But hey, if you think old houses are cool and you want a mortgage payment that you can afford in a house that can only get more valuable, stop by the open house at 764 21st Avenue South tomorrow or next Saturday.

I can’t promise you’ll be on easy street, but if you’re into cottages you will love this house.