In 1926, a savvy developer lured 10,000 prospective buyers to Forest Hills real estate by staging a free boxing match featuring heavyweight champ Jack Dempsey. Soon, though, the Florida land boom turned bust and not even the area's lush golf course and plush clubhouse could attract new home buyers. Another sports legend, golfer Mildred "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias, and her wrestler husband, George, bought the golf course in 1949 and worked to return the clubhouse to its former glory.
Today, the city-owned Babe Zaharias Golf Course provides a park-like center for the middle-class suburban community carved from the north Tampa woodlands. The golf course winds through the neighborhood, giving a rural feel. The presence of birds and other wildlife add to the illusion that the city of Tampa is far away.
Ranch houses of 1950s and '60s vintage are the predominant architectural style in Forest Hills. Expect to pay about $150,000+ for a basic, single-family home with 1,100 square feet of living space on a small lot. Prices are expected to go up – citywide, median home prices in Tampa jumped more than 35 percent in the last two years.
Among the top-rated mid size zoos in the country, nearby Lowry Park Zoo features 41 acres of lush, natural habitats. The Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) is a short drive east on Fowler Avenue and is the largest science center in the Southeast, encompassing 254,000 square feet and 65 acres. Across the street from MOSI, the University of South Florida (USF) offers everything from intercollegiate athletics to concerts and a community lecture series that has included such speakers as filmmaker Spike Lee, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Watergate journalist Bob Woodward.
Easy access to Interstate 275 to downtown Tampa, about nine miles away, means even rush-hour commutes seldom take longer than 20 minutes. Shopping, dining and Tampa's largest shopping mall are all minutes away.
The Hillsborough County school district serves the Tampa neighborhood and most of the area schools are rated average by state scoring standards. But the district offers a variety of magnet schools that focus on the performing arts, technology, environmental studies and other courses of study. Blake High School, a performing arts magnet school is within reasonable driving distance of the neighborhood of Forest Hills. Private schools include nearby Jesuit High School, a highly rated Catholic school for boys.
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