An open house in Enos Park is part open house, part neighborhood gathering.
More than two-dozen people had filed through a two-bedroom bungalow at 1153 N. Fifth St. within the first hour of a two-hour open house Tuesday evening to get a glimpse of the latest restoration project in the historic neighborhood.
Some were thinking ownership. Others were there to show support.
"I grew up in this neighborhood ... it's slow but it's come back a lot," said John Szerletich, who stopped by with his wife, Chris.
Szerletich, a laboratory supply officer at nearby Memorial Medical Center, said the couple considered moving out of Enos Park on occasion, but each time concluded they were comfortable staying put.
Even so, he acknowledged the neighborhood still has its problems.
"The decline has stopped, but we're not done," he said. "If it happened overnight, it wouldn't stay."
Old Neighborhood Rehab Inc. has used a blend of public and private funding to restore and market six homes in the 1100 block of North Fifth Street. The block is immediately south of a busy commercial stretch of North Grand Avenue.
The latest property - the first made accessible to people with disabilities - has been put on the market at $85,000. All five of the previous homes have sold.
Fletcher "Bud" Farrar, president of Old Neighborhood Rehab and a resident of Enos Park, said the cost of restoring abandoned and dilapidated homes typically exceeds the asking price. But that has been offset in Enos Park by government grants and private donations.
The city of Springfield approved a $30,000 community development grant for restoration of the latest home, which had been vacant. The Dominican Sisters of Springfield approved a $10,000 grant.
Some buyers also qualify for assistance with down payments.
There have been a variety of efforts to bring residents back to Enos Park by restoring rundown homes, demolishing structures that are beyond repair and cracking down on crime. There also is hope a newly created city medical district will help attract residents and neighborhood businesses to the area.
Broker-Realtor Linda Maier said, however, that Enos Park still has an image problem.
"You still have to offer someone a good deal to attract them here," she said. "In the past two years, I've started to see more people from outside the area."
Maier said she sold a two-story home to a retired couple from Champaign in April. The couple plans to convert a portion of the 3,000-square-foot home into a residence for their son and daughter-in-law.
"They were looking for a certain property in a certain price range. I told 'em everything about the neighborhood, good, bad and indifferent," she said.
Springfield resident Dan Dickerson was among the lookers Tuesday. He now rents an apartment on the near west side.
Dickerson, who is in a wheelchair, said he was drawn to the accessibility of the home in Enos Park. He added that he would consider a move to Enos Park despite the neighborhood's problems.
"I like the older homes. I've just come to see what they're up to," he said.
The next project for Old Neighborhood Rehab is at 1141 N. Fifth St. Portions of gutters have fallen off the abandoned home, siding is cracked, windows are broken and the front yard is overgrown with weeds.
But the group plans to tackle the property starting next month, Farrar said.
"It's two steps forward and one step back, but we feel like the more homeowners we get, the better," he said.
Tim Landis can be reached at 788-1536 or email@example.com.