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Developer plans affordable townhomes in South St. Petersburg CRA

Margie Manning

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Schematic rendering of the 11 townhomes Namaste Homes plans to build at 16th Avenue South and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street South.

Namaste Homes LLC, a St. Petersburg developer, plans to build 11 affordable townhomes in the South St. Petersburg Community Redevelopment Area.

The $2.5 million development, Sixteenth Square, is in line for up to $286,000 in tax increment financing from the South St. Petersburg Redevelopment Trust Fund, after winning approval Tuesday from the Citizens Advisory Committee for the South St. Petersburg CRA.

It’s the most recent affordable housing project in the city and one of a small number designed for home owners instead of  renters. Proponents say home ownership is key to building wealth in a community.

In 2012, when city officials approved the South St. Petersburg Community Redevelopment Plan, 55 percent of the residents of South St. Petersburg spent more than 30 percent of their income on housing, the threshold for identifying “cost-burdened households.”  

The Namaste project is located at the northwest corner of 16th Avenue South and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street. The townhomes will each have three bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths and about 1,280-square feet. They will have energy-efficient elements including windows, insulated panels, air conditioning and appliances. They are expected to sell for $213,000 each and are designed for buyers or renters whose household income does not exceed 120 percent of the area median income. For a family of four, that would mean a maximum income of $84,360 a year.

Renderings of the interiors planned at Sixteenth Square

A restrictive covenant limits the sale or rental of property to qualified households for 15 years. A homeowners association will be responsible for external maintenance and landscaping, with a fee of $120 a month.

The city will provide a payment of $26,000 per unit to the developer. If any of the townhomes sell for more than $213,000, the developer will refund part of that subsidy to the city, up to a maximum of $16,000 per unit. In no case will the city subsidy be less than $10,000, a memo from city staff outlining the project said.

The total project will cost $2.5 million, and it’s extremely tight with very little profit, said Glenn Larkin, Namaste Homes development manager for St. Petersburg and Pinellas County.

“Because we do all the work ourselves — the construction work, the development work and the realtor work ourselves — we do have those income flows,” Larkin told the Citizens Advisory Committee. “But it is very tight, particularly when it comes to giving a return on equity to someone who provides equity that isn’t us. We’re confident we can do it but it could be tight.”

If a townhome can’t be sold to a qualified household, it could be rented, said Rob Gerdes, the city’s neighborhood affairs administrator.

“We feel there is a strong market for home ownership at this price point and are very optimistic that the units will be sold to qualifying households. However, if the developer is not able to sell all of the units, our concept would be it would be mostly the developer who would be renting the units they couldn’t sell and that we would monitor those units through our housing department,” Gerdes said. “If the unit was sold to a qualified home buyer, they most likely are going to use our down payment assistance, and it’s our expectation they would be homesteading the property, they would not be turning around and renting it.”

The city’s down payment assistance program is expected to provide as much as an additional $110,000 for the 11 units.

The Citizens Advisory Committee voted unanimously to approve the TIF contribution.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Brad Banks

    October 28, 2020at3:12 pm

    “The city will provide a payment of $26,000 per unit to the developer.” You mean the taxpayers.

  2. Avatar

    Cynthia Adams

    October 28, 2020at3:32 pm

    I pray African Americans get a chance to get a townhouse in stpete with
    All of this gentrifications going on the south side

  3. Avatar

    Rose Hayes

    October 28, 2020at8:56 pm

    Who can afford these units, including the maintenance fees and their own homeowners insurance. How much will the payments be per month? What is the required down payment?/

  4. Avatar

    Robin

    October 29, 2020at12:31 am

    I would really like to rent/buy one of these units.

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