Developer targets Seminole Blvd. site for Largo affordable housing complex

The Cornerstone Group LLC of Coconut Grove is proposing to build Avalon Apartments, a 96-unit complex made up of entirely affordable housing at 2075 Seminole Blvd., which is a vacant property just north of Ulmerton Road.

LARGO — A Miami-area developer has proposed building a new affordable housing complex off Seminole Boulevard in Largo and is also looking for city, county, state and federal support to help make it happen.

The Cornerstone Group LLC of Coconut Grove is proposing to build Avalon Apartments, a 96-unit complex made up of entirely affordable housing at 2075 Seminole Blvd., which is a vacant property just north of Ulmerton Road.

According to a letter and preliminary concept plan submitted to the city from the group, the 4.8-acre site next to the Town and Country Mobile Home Park would feature four three-story residential buildings, a clubhouse with a gym, business center, and an on-site leasing office.

The group is seeking to enter into a development agreement with the city of Largo that would allow all 96 of the units to be set aside for families and individuals earning between 30% and 70% of the area median income. In exchange, the group said it would keep the community affordable for 30 years.

City code only allows a maximum of 70% affordable housing set aside in this area, but the City Commission can make an exemption in this case because it is in the Largo Mall Activity Center.

By doing so, the developer hopes to make it more likely to capture low-income housing tax credits that have been allocated to the state by the federal government.

“By allowing this project to set aside 100% of the units, it will be able to generate an additional ($3 million-plus) in equity from the Low Income Housing Tax Credits that is needed for the development of this community,” wrote Josh Tonnesen of Cornerstone Group in a letter to the city.

Those credits, however, are extremely competitive and only one project per county gets funded by the state through the program each year.

According to Assistant Community Development Director Bob Klute, a project in the city has never earned the credits.

As part of the application process, the Florida Housing Finance Corp., which administers the program, requires developments have local financial support from the community. In this case, Cornerstone Group asked for a commitment of $75,000 from the city should it receive the credits.

On Oct. 6, city commissioners signed off on that commitment.

The group said it also has applied with the county for Penny for Pinellas sales tax funds that have been allocated for affordable housing, and hopes to be one of the first to receive the new resource.

Commissioner Michael Smith asked how the neighbors, specifically the nearby mobile home community, feel about the project.

Klute said the city hasn’t gone through the site plan review process yet, which would include involving neighbors and examining how it would impact traffic in that area.

“We’ve discussed the concept with them (Cornerstone Group) and at least, in terms of the concept, the access points are arranged so that they don’t conflict with the neighbors or the development across the street,” he said.