LARGO — In the fall of last year, a Miami-area developer proposed building a new affordable housing complex off Seminole Boulevard in Largo.
The 96-unit complex at 2075 Seminole Blvd., which is a vacant property just north of Ulmerton Road, was to be entirely affordable housing, but it needed state and county funding to move forward.
It didn’t get it, and the contract to purchase the 4.8-acre site adjacent to Town and Country Mobile Home Park expired before the developer could secure financing, Arrow Woodard, the city’s housing manager, told Tampa Bay Newspapers on May 21.
Enter Archway Partners, another Miami-area developer that has agreed to purchase the site.
What are its plans for the property at 2075 Seminole Blvd.? A 96-unit affordable housing complex that, once again, would need state and county funding to proceed.
Almost identical to the previous development slated for the site, the $27.2 million Seminole Square Apartments would feature four, three-story residential buildings. According to a preliminary concept plan, it would include a clubhouse, on-site leasing office, dog park and would be a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments.
It plans to serve residents making between 30 to 80% of area median income, which, for example, would include a two-person household making between $17,240-$45,000 annually, according to the city.
“This proposed development is within the Largo Mall Activity Center, close to transit and will serve residents who work in the retail and hospitality sectors who may not be able to afford the rental rates at apartment complexes which charge market-rate rents,” Woodard wrote in an email to TBN.
Brett Green of Archway Partners said the garden-style community will be entirely affordable housing, but it won’t look or feel cheap.
“All of our developments … will look very similar to any other market-rate project in the area,” Green told city commissioners May 18. “A lot of the time, even though we charge less, sometimes they are higher quality.”
Commissioner Eric Gerard asked about the firm’s timeline for the project.
If all goes well, Green said, construction could commence in 2023.
A lot must happen for ground to be broken, though, including securing multiple funding sources.
According to Woodard, the firm plans to seek funding through the Pinellas County Housing Finance Authority and has submitted an application for Penny for Pinellas Affordable Housing funds and for State Apartment Incentive Loan (SAIL) funding through the Florida Housing Finance Corp.
The SAIL program provides low-interest loans on a competitive basis to affordable housing developers each year, according to the corporation.
The application for the SAIL funding requires local financial support from the community. City commissioners voted to provide that support in the form of a $75,000 grant that is contingent on the developer securing the funding.
That won’t be easy, though, as Woodard said she is not aware of any other housing projects in the city that have received SAIL funding.
City attorney gets a raise
Commissioners unanimously approved another pay increase for longtime City Attorney Alan Zimmet.
This is the 18th increase in compensation for Zimmet, who has provided legal counsel to the city since 2000.
His monthly retainer will increase by 4% from $12,256.50 to $12,746.24 for his services; and the assistant city attorney retainer will increase from $10,481.92 to $10,901.28.
City Manager Henry Schubert said the 4% is equal to what is expected in the FY22 budget for employee pay increases.
His accomplishments listed by the city include assisting in the response to the pandemic, assisting in drafting the pet store ordinance, and assisting with various aspects of the City Hall project.
He also helped negotiate a recent settlement agreement between the city and several environmental groups who sued the city over wastewater concerns.
“He has evolved along with this city and at every turn he represents us professionally, is not afraid to tell us bad news and he is highly, highly respected at all levels,” Commissioner John Carroll said.
Fuel tax hike approved
Commissioners voted 7-0 to approve an interlocal agreement with Pinellas County related to the administration and distribution of a 5-cent fuel tax the county is considering levying.
“If the 5-cent local option fuel tax is levied by Pinellas County, the annual revenue projection for the city of Largo is $750,000. The estimated impact on the tax is $27 per vehicle per year,” said Finance Director Kim Adams, who added the $27 estimate was based on about 10,000 miles.
According to Pinellas County, it will be facing a $10 million annual transportation funding gap as costs are projected to outpace fuel tax growth due to more fuel-efficient vehicles being purchased.
If the tax hike is approved by the County Commission, 60% of fuel taxes will be spent countywide and Pinellas municipalities will share 40% of fuel taxes based on each municipality's relative population.