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Largo likes plans for senior housing
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LARGO – City officials will negotiate a development agreement with a real estate firm that hopes to build a 153-unit affordable housing senior apartment complex on the northwest corner of Ridge and Ulmerton roads in Largo.

City commissioners authorized staff Feb. 7 to take such action, with only a few questions about the project.

“I’m perfectly willing to work on a development agreement,” Largo Mayor Pat Gerard said. “I think it’s a great idea.”

Norstar Development of Buffalo, N.Y., proposes the project for 8.27 acres owned by the Pinellas Housing Authority. A shopping center currently occupies the site.

The project will be funded with federal tax credits supplemented by $12.5 million in county bonds, Federal Home Loan Bank funds, Housing Authority funds and other potential sources currently being pursued.

Richard Cavalieri, the development manager for Norstar, said his company has completed several projects in Florida, working with housing authorities.

He said the company was selected by the Pinellas County Housing Authority to be its development partner for five years on the project, which will have income limits for its tenants.

The developers are trying to get money from as many sources as possible, he said, to finance the project.

“The environment is difficult right now,” Cavalieri said. “The state has basically taken away all the funds from affordable housing and programmed them for other areas to balance their budget.”

Besides negotiating for a density not to exceed 24 units per acre, Norstar also seeks a reduction in parking ratios and certain development impact fees. Staff believes the site is appropriate for development at the maximum density.

Currently, city codes allow a density of 15 units an acre, but a development agreement would allow the property to be developed with higher densities.

He said with 153 units, the density is about 18 units per acre, but Norstar would like to reserve the remainder of the site for additional housing.

If the project receives all necessary approvals, Norstar would like to close on funding in July and start demolition over the existing retail area, which is occupied by one tenant. He expects development to take 12 to 16 months once ground is broken.
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