'Ghost communities' on The Treasure Coast still scary, several years after housing bubble burst

Impact 5 explores the housing crisis in So. Fla.

At a neighborhood called Victoria Parc in Port Saint Lucie's Tradition development, there are weeds as tall as the average-sized man.

The wind that whips through the unruly brush carries no echoes. 

There are no  sounds of children playing. No sounds of neighbors  chatt ing. No sounds of cars driving by. 

There are no homes at all in Victoria Parc. It's a ghost development ... a place that never got off the ground.

"The economy collapsed, and it was left in this condition," said Ed Cunningham, spokesman for the City of Port St. Lucie.

This neighborhood is  one of many across our region and state that went bust when the housing bubble burst. Another is  Tesoro Preserve  in Port St. Lucie.

"It's quiet. You know, there's a lot of room to roam," said Frank Luciano, a 63-year-old who lives in the neighborhood.

Tesoro Preserve boasts 440 lots, but only 14 homes .

The developer here says the Mediterranean-style houses once had price tags of almost $2 million. He says t oday they go for about a quarter of that price.

Luciano bought the model house two years ago.

"I was out of work, so you know, I figured we'd retire, come to Port St. Lucie, because it's a beautiful area up here," said Luciano.  

He  used to have his own construction company. The housing crash ended that, and he left his much larger home in Broward county to start over here.

"The neighborhood needs life. It's a beautiful neighborhood," Luciano commented.

His  neighbor, Joseph Visconti,  is also the developer here. He is trying to carve out a new future for a place that seemed to be at a dead end two years ago.

"The previous owners went out of business, and we had to go to the banks and buy the mortgages, do the foreclosures," said Visconti. He's  hopeful now. He says he's selling lots and b uilding a clubhouse, tennis courts, and a pool that are expected to be finished in a couple months.

  "We have a long way to go, but it's starting, and it's working," said Visconti.

Port St. Lucie City leaders are encouraging the efforts.

"Throughout the city, we are working with some developers to try to find ways to resolve these empty issues," said Cunningham.

An ongoing fight goes on to bring ghost developments back to life.

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