Tampa developer breaks ground on 88 affordable apartments in Winter Haven
Winter Haven — Construction got underway on a new 88-unit, affordable apartment complex in the northeast section of Winter Haven on Monday afternoon.
Tampa-based developer Blue Sky Communities held a ground breaking ceremony Monday for garden-style housing complex, to be named Florence Place, on six acres northeast of 1st Street and Avenue S Northeast.
"Winter Haven and Polk County are growing. For decades, it was what you passed through going on the I-4 corridor, but now Polk County is a destination on the I-4 corridor," said Shawn Wilson, president of Blue Sky Communities. "Winter Haven is right in the middle of that."
The housing project was a vision from the Winter Haven commission's 2021 strategic planning meeting, Mayor Brad Dantzler said. The city invited Blue Sky Communities to attend that meeting, launching a partnership in interest of creating affordable housing.
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Florence Place has an estimated price tag of about $27 million to construct the 88-unit apartment complex. It will consist of 36 one-bedroom, 44 two-bedrooms and eight three-bedroom units. All the apartments will be equipped with energy efficient features. The amenities included on site will be a clubhouse with fitness and activity rooms, a pool and playground.
Winter Haven commissioners provided a local contribution of $460,000 toward the project. This local funding helped the developer successfully apply for a 9% tax credit through the Florida Housing Finance Corp., Wilson said. This provides a dollar-for-dollar reduction in federal taxes designed to help subsidize the low-income units. Wilson estimated the value at more than $15 million.
"We were able to do this without a big ask of the Sadowski funds," he said, citing the state's pot of revenue for affordable housing projects.
The Polk County Commission provided $2 million to the project in exchange for 11 units to be set aside for residents who make 60% or less of the area median income. That's an individual who made $28,380 or less in 2022, or $40,500 for a family of four, according to Florida Housing's guidelines.
Wilson said the majority of the complex's units will be priced for individuals who make 60% or less of the AMI. This is one of the three pricing tiers, with apartments designed for those making less than 30% of the AMI, an individual making less than $14,190 in 2020, plus a few units for those who make 80% of the AMI, $37,840 per individual or $54,000 for a family of four.
The unit's rental prices are expected to range from somewhere in the $300s to about $1,200 a month, Wilson said, depending on a lessee's income and the apartment's size. All will be priced in accordance with federal and state guidelines.
"They can know we won't jack up the rent up by an ungodly amount each year," Wilson said.
The project is on an ambitious timeframe to allow residents to move in by spring 2024. Wilson said the price of construction equipment and supplies is increasing, and he expects to see labor prices start to rise. Supply chain issues have led to longer wait times for orders, lengthening the construction timeframe for many housing projects.
"It is true the average duration of a construction period for a development like this has grown from about 13 months pre-pandemic to about 18 months now," he said.
Construction updates and additional information can be found online at www.florence-place.com, including applications for units when available.
Sara-Megan Walsh can be reached at email@example.com or 863-802-7545. Follow on Twitter@SaraWalshFl.
This article originally appeared on The Ledger: 88 affordable apartments coming to northeast Winter Haven