MANATEE — Developed in the 1950s, the working-class and retirement neighborhood of Bayshore Gardens looks like it’s been placed in a time capsule.
Colorful, one-story homes fill the neighborhood, located south of 60th Avenue West between U.S. 41 and Sarasota Bay. The community’s centerpiece is a 12-acre recreation center featuring a marina, boat ramp, pool and original pavilions from the ‘50s.
Most of the homes listed in the latest neighborhood newsletter are priced at less than $200,000. Homeowners association president Suzanna Young says millionaires would probably live in the neighborhood if it were developed today.
“We’ve got a very rare situation here, and it’s worth preserving if we can,” she said.
But as the real estate crash brought prices low, more investors bought the homes and converted them to rentals. While most houses look fine, Young said she sees more and more that aren’t kept up or are simply abandoned.
To help improve the situation, homeowners and landlords will meet Wednesday to form a neighborhood landlords association.
County Commissioner Ron Getman dreamed up the idea after hearing a growing number of complaints about overgrown lawns and other code violations. Getman will attend the meeting with representatives of several county departments to help educate landlords about keeping up their properties.
“I wanted to try to do something to protect and try to improve the environment there,” he said. “This is not the only part of my community, this particular area is unique.”
Getman said some of his ideas about neighborhood preservation come from a book titled “Fixing Broken Windows,” which focuses on fixing small neighborhood problems to prevent larger ones.
“If you have a place that has poor maintenance and is neglected, it will foster crime,” he said. “The more you do to preserve a neighborhood and fix the broken windows ... the more you can make the community a better place to live.”
On a tour of the neighborhood last month, Young pointed to one of the consequences of too many inexperienced landlords: a house with two-foot high weeds, peeling paint and overgrown bushes.
“I guess somebody lives there,” she quipped.
Lou Eurice, president of the Manatee County Landlords Association, will also attend Wednesday’s meeting. Eurice, who owns more than 200 properties but none in Bayshore Gardens, said the biggest problems he sees are with new landlords with only a few properties.
He wants to stress the importance of getting applications from potential tenants and doing background checks.
“If you take the time to do your homework, normally you can fend off a big percentage of the problems,” he said. “You can get a good tenant that will take care of the place and be a good neighbor.”
Eurice said a local landlords association will allow landlords to get to know each other and watch out for potential problems at other properties.
Bunny Pupek, who has lived in Bayshore Gardens for a dozen years, said she thinks the new landlords group will help.
“The houses are cute if they kept their grass mowed and kept the place up,” she said. “You can do so much with these houses.”