LARGO — The Clearwater-Largo Road area is proving to be a hotspot for housing developers of late.
Less than a month after the groundbreaking of a 224-unit apartment complex along the corridor, city leaders approved a pair of redevelopment incentives April 16 that paved the way for the construction of a 255-unit complex on the northern end of the road.
The four-story complex will rise up at the 9.1-acre site of Clearwater Trailer City, which is currently still active and has 11 mobile home owners.
Commissioners voted 7-0 to allow the Pinellas Park-based Belleair Development Group, which is under contract to purchase the site, to utilize two density bonuses in exchange for setting aside affordable housing and to help relocate the 11 owners.
“We’ve done several projects like this in the past, so we know the drill and we’re looking forward to bringing something that the residents will enjoy and use for years to come,” said Christian Yepes, vice president of development for Belleair Development Group.
The property at 1650 Clearwater-Largo Road is zoned to allow 15 units an acre. However, the group was able to nearly double that to 28 units an acre through two redevelopment incentives offered by the Clearwater-Largo Road Community Redevelopment Plan.
The density bonuses, which are part of a 30-year pact that runs with the land, are based on a commitment to set aside 15 percent of the units (38) for affordable housing and to help relocate the 11 mobile home owners under the city's Mobile Home Park Relocation Assistance program.
“We are ready, willing and able to help them,” said Yepes, who added he is doing the same thing in a project in St. Petersburg.
“We’re required to give them an affordable option, and if there’s a difference between what they are paying now and what they’re going to be paying at the new location, then we will work with the city to subsidize that difference,” he said. “And then there’s a fee to the city every year for the administration of that program.”
Teresa Brydon, economic development manager for the city, said the park, which had the capacity for 156 units, still has some month-to-month renters, but most of the units were vacant when Yepes’ group signed on to purchase the site.
“I know that they had already come in and have already started working with our building department for the removal of a lot of those mobile home units that were owned by the park ownership,” she told Tampa Bay Newspapers on April 18.
This is not the first time a developer has targeted Clearwater Trailer City for redevelopment.
According to a Tampa Bay Times report, a Tampa firm wanted to build an apartment complex at the site in early 2016, but funding fell through.
Brydon said a couple of people have spoken with the owner in the past, but this is the farthest the city has come in an attempt to redevelop the property.
And while it may have taken a long time to get to this point, she said it’s not going to take long for this one to rise up out of the ground, echoing Yepes’ statement that his group plans to break ground as soon as possible.
“This project is going to take on legs. It’ll move along, very similar to what happened at the corner of Rosery and Clearwater-Largo Road,” she said, referring to a new complex called The Rosery at corner of Clearwater-Largo and Rosery roads.
“Within the last two months, we’ve had the two projects come up for Clearwater-Largo Road and those two projects alone are 479 new units to the community,” she said. “So, this has been like, wow, this is really interesting to see what’s going on.”