If you know anything about Florida, it probably stems from the ridiculous headlines that come out of this wonderful state: The 2004 election, Florida Man, George Zimmerman, Casey Anthony, The Sausage Castle, people eating people, you name it. Don’t worry, the depression and the ridiculousness doesn’t stop there.
I recently stumbled upon one of the most bizarre places just a few miles from where I live. Nestled at the bottom of a hill behind a year-round Christmas House on the edge of downtown Brooksville, you will find 45 acres of abandoned affordable public housing between two different projects: Brooksville Villas and Hillside Estates.
While the Villas are rather destroyed and tagged with graffiti, the Hillside Estates are seemingly intact (maybe even livable?) minus the fact that all of the estates are boarded up. Needless to say, it is very eerie driving and walking through this neighborhood. A very Tim Burton type of feeling. To follow my curiosity, I decided to do some research, and well, the story is expectedly heartbreaking.
To keep it short, the 125 families that lived here beginning in 2010 had been kicked out of their living spaces just two years later in 2012 due to varying reports of reasoning. The Tampa Bay Times reported that the buildings were unsafe to live in and the building repairs cost more than their value. Others say that unstable management, misuse of FEMA funds, loan default by the management company, and the fact that the houses were basically built on a swamp were all reasons that the Brooksville Housing Authority was dissolved and the two housing ventures ended up failing and consequently still stand there vacant. The city of Brooksville owns the property which is appraised at $325,000, but would cost over $1 million to demolish. I guess it’s cheaper to let it die on its own while still maintaining the landscaping every couple of weeks.
As of 2014, the city of Brooksville considered the idea of turning the area into a dense residential area with a town center, however two years have already passed, and no word has been printed about it since.
It’s a depressing scene, to see these buildings that were once homes to 125 families just sit there vacant, but needless to say, it is an interesting place and another notch on Florida’s belt as weirdest and most depressing state in the country.
All images shot with Mamiya 6, 75mm f/3.5 on Kodak TMax 100. Scanned on Epson V700.