PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — New options are in the works for families struggling to find an affordable place to live in Pinellas County. Crews just began construction work on a new affordable housing complex in the Skyway Marina District in St. Petersburg and it’s just the start of a multi-million dollar push to create low-rent options in St. Pete.
The 65-unit Skyway Lofts at 3900 34th Street South will include 1-2 bedroom apartments that rent for between $315 a month to $1,160 a month. The average rent will be around $700, according to developers.
Blue Sky Communities, the company in charge of building the new affordable apartment building, is also working on similar projects in Tampa and Bradenton.
In St. Petersburg, city leaders say affordable housing has never been more crucial as rent prices have spiked 46% in just the past 5 years. At the same time, many have lost jobs or had their hours cut during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Daniel Harris considers himself lucky. Four years ago, he moved into an affordable rental apartment in the Kenwood area of St. Petersburg.
“I’m blessed. In market-rate apartments, a one-bedroom is like $1,800 a month in some places and I can’t make that on a bartender’s wage,” he explained.
Rick Kriseman, the Mayor of St. Petersburg, says affordable housing is a top priority.
“There are a lot of folks who now find themselves in the category of needing housing that’s affordable and now they will have an opportunity if they had housing to regain it and if they’ve never had it, to now to get it," he said.
St. Petersburg leaders recently made a commitment to invest $60 million over the next 10 years toward affordable housing projects.
The work at Skyway Lofts should wrap up in a little more than a year.
Scott Macdonald, the executive vice president and CFO of Blue Sky Communities, says the idea is to make the apartments look just as nice as the market rate units going in right across the street, which helps to erase any stigma associated with affordable housing.
“For us to be able to get in here amongst all these luxury apartments and provide workforce housing, that’s what I’m most excited about,” Macdonald said.
“It’s middle class, it’s working people who need to be able to afford decent safe clean housing near where they work,” Senator Darryl Rouson chimed in.
Local leaders are working to incentivize affordable housing construction by offering tax breaks for developers who create units that rent for less.
Harris says that’s essential.
“With more of the larger and more expensive buildings being built that’s just going to create more of a need for people like myself,” he added.
Pinellas County is also working to add more affordable housing to the area by using Penny for Pinellas funds to jumpstart construction. Here are a few projects that were recently finished or are underway currently:
Eagle Ridge Apartments
Pinellas County is providing $567,500 in construction financing for a 71 unit housing development to replace 61 units existing units at Mango Circle. The project is located at 721 Mango Circle, Tarpon Springs, FL.
The total cost of the project is anticipated to be $17,229,392. 53 units will be reserved for households at 60% AMI or less and 18 units will be reserved for households at 50% AMI or less. The unit mix consists of 18 1BR/1BA units, 30 2BR/1.5BA units and 23 3BR/2.5 BA units.
The project is currently 70% complete with anticipated completion by the end of 2020.
Pinellas County is providing $1,250,000 in construction financing for an 82 unit housing development. The project is located at 8011 49th Street North, Pinellas Park, FL.
The total project cost is anticipated to be $19,492,691. 68 units will be reserved for households at 60% AMI or less, 8 units will be reserved for households at 50% AMI or less and 6 of the units will be reserved for special needs households. The unit matrix consists of 6 1BR/1BA units, 60 2BR/2BA units and 16 3BR/2BA units.
The project is currently 75% complete with anticipated completion by the end of November.
Clam Bayou Phase III
Pinellas County provided construction financing for the final 8 units of a 24 unit development. The project is located at 4130 34th Ave. North, St. Petersburg, FL.
All units are reserved for households at 50% AMI or less. The units are all 1BR/1BA and are being leased primarily to homeless households. The total project cost was $1,239,855 and the funding was split evenly between Pinellas County, the Pinellas County Housing Finance Authority and The City of St. Petersburg.
The project was completed in late June and is currently being leased out.
Ranch at Pinellas Park 2
Pinellas County provided $937,136 in acquisition and construction financing for an 8 unit housing development. The project is located at 6505 96th Ave. North, Pinellas Park, FL.
The total project cost was over $1,300,000. All units are reserved for households at 50% AMI or less. Pinellas County previously provide land acquisition funding for an earlier phase for 25 units. The units are all 1BR/1BA.
The project was completed in March and is currently being leased out.
Pinellas County provided $1,000,000 in land assembly funding for an 80 unit housing development. The project is located at 826 Woodlawn Street, Clearwater, FL.
The total project cost was $14,964,000. 72 units are reserved for households at 60% AMI or less and 8 units are reserved for households at 40% AMI or less with half of those for special needs. The unit matrix consists of 56 2BR/2BA units and 24 3BR/2BA units.
The project is complete and is currently leasing.