Abandoned, half-finished houses and townhouses - concrete block shell rising out of weedy lots - are scattered across South Florida, remnants of the sudden and brutal downtown in the housing market. I had written about the effect on neighbors who live with these uncompleted eyesores where work stopped abruptly over a year ago. My column focused on the Croissant Park neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale. But the Victoria Park neighborhood in the city's east-central reaches probably suffers as many of these shells as any community. I received this e-mail from Jay Holloway, president of the Victoria Park Homeowners Association, describing the plight:
Yes the unfinished projects have been a problem in our neighborhood. We have appealed to the building dept to no avail yet. City code inspectors cite where possible. Developers don't want to complete projects without a buyer lined up in the wings. Appliances and AC units are stolen from completed projects making the good projects less salient. We have homeless, displaced construction workers living in unfinished townhouses and using them as a staging ground for neighborhood burglaries. We have resident complaints of late night drunken stays by street urchins in these projects. Periodically we get reports of the expensive hurricane windows being stolen out of the projects as well. Developers are in such dire straits they try to sell the projects unfinished to anyone who will take them off their hands. Their presence deters would be buyers of adjacent homes as they don't want to live next to an unfinished mess. The problem could take years to resolve meanwhile they are a blight on our otherwise attractive streets.