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Development offering $350 monthly rents breaks ground

Mark Parker

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Mayor Ken Welch noted the second phase of the SkyWay Lofts development will serve residents earning between $8.25 and $22 an hour. Photo provided.

The extensive public-private partnership behind the SkyWay Lofts II is celebrating construction commencing on the much-anticipated affordable housing development with monthly rents starting at $358.

Wednesday morning’s groundbreaking ceremony represented a culmination of three years of collaborative efforts between St. Petersburg and Pinellas County officials and the Blue Sky Communities development team. It was also the first of several planned throughout the spring commemorating over 400 new affordable and workforce housing units.

SkyWay Lofts II will provide 66 homes for those earning less than 80% of the area median income (AMI), or about $46,000 annually. However, the minimum income threshold is just 22% of the AMI, and Mayor Ken Welch noted the project supports residents making $6.44 to $22 an hour.

“This will be truly affordable housing,” Welch asserted. “We will continue to seek innovative partnerships to develop and preserve this critically needed housing.”

The $26.8 million development at 3800 34th St. S. received $6.5 million from the City of St. Petersburg and $3.4 million from Pinellas County coffers. It follows the initial SkyWay Lofts project, which Blue Sky opened in March 2022.

The firm, which specializes in building affordable housing, received over 1,800 applications for the first phase’s 65 units before halting the process. Blue Sky and local leaders decided to expand upon the project due to the overwhelming demand for attainable homes.

“This second phase will ensure safe and restful nights for 66 deserving families, something many of us take for granted,” said City Council Chair Deborah Figgs-Sanders. “For that one single mom, that single dad or that grandparent raising children and just trying to keep it all together – you say only 66 – today, 66 is a good number.”

Jalinda Williams is one of those residents. She was among the first to call the Skyway Lofts home and expressed appreciation for its security, serenity and friendly neighbors after the event.

The building features a stormwater management system, and Williams credited the leasing team for quickly addressing any issues. She wants people to know that new affordable housing developments benefit rather than detract from a community.

“It’s nice to see that there’s more places opening up and that people now move back into their own spaces and have their own homes because the housing market has been crazy unaffordable,” Williams said. “We definitely need more places like this.

“I love it here.”

From left: St. Petersburg City Councilmember Copley Gerdes; City Council Chair Deborah Figgs-Sanders; County Commissioner Renee Flowers; Scott MacDonald, CFO of Blue Sky Communities; Mayor Ken Welch; and County Commissioner Charlie Justice. Photo by Mark Parker.

The development sits between 34th Street and 38th Avenue South in the growing Skyway Marina District. The commercial corridor provides ample access to transportation, grocery stores and shopping.

City officials dedicated American Rescue Plan Act funding to the project. Commissioner Charlie Justice noted the county utilized Penny for Pinellas taxes to acquire the land, which ensures perpetual affordability.

Justice said the project shows that various public and private officials can work together to provide attainable homes across income levels. He also said the “need is real,” as 43% of the average Tampa Bay resident’s paycheck goes towards housing costs.

“When we went up for Penny for Pinellas, we promised voters that we would spend money on developing affordable housing,” Justice added. “We don’t want people to just survive. We want them to thrive … and that’s not going to happen if people are just barely making it with paying rent.”

St. Pete-based Blue Sky is one of the county’s most prolific affordable housing developers. Scott MacDonald, chief financial officer, stressed the importance of working with people with shared goals.

MacDonald said that includes property owners not “looking to sell the land for as much as possible.” In addition to city and county partners, he credited the Florida Housing Corporation and Raymond James Financial for financing the project.

MacDonald expects to open the second phase in about a year, marking the end of a four-year journey. “People sometimes ask us why we don’t build market-rate housing,” he said. “I always tell them because it’s too easy.”

“What we do is hard,” MacDonald added. “But really, it’s the mission, and we hold that near and dear to our heart.”

 

 

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22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Sheri

    March 8, 2024at4:33 pm

    You may need to apply with Pinellas County Affordable Housing at:
    https://pinellashousing.com/housing-programs/affordable-housing/

  2. Mark Parker

    Mark Parker

    March 8, 2024at4:08 pm

    Here is a link to the developer’s website. However, I would not expect applications to open anytime soon as they just broke ground. Thank you all for reading, and good luck. https://blueskycommunities.com/

  3. Avatar

    Michelle GRAHAM

    March 8, 2024at12:51 pm

    Over 30 million was spent to house 66?

  4. Avatar

    JL MA

    March 8, 2024at11:52 am

    17 COMMENTS, NOT EVEN 1 REPLY.
    WHERE/ HOW DO I APPLY FOR THE MOST LIKELY SUPER EXPENSIVE L9NG WAITING LIST?
    WORKING AS A SECURITY OFFICER AT TROPICANA FIELD FOR 7 YEARS MAKING NOW JUST A MISERABLE $16 AN HOUR.
    THANK YOU KINDLY

  5. Avatar

    Edward

    March 8, 2024at11:31 am

    How do you apply

  6. Avatar

    Bernice Price

    March 7, 2024at2:27 pm

    How do you apply for an apt, I am 66 years old and would love an apt ,

  7. Avatar

    Karen Kirkpatrick

    March 7, 2024at1:57 pm

    Math is easy. $10 million ÷ 66 units = $151,515.00 and change per unit. Those folks smiling and shoveling dirt in the photo assume poor people can’t do division or add.

  8. Avatar

    Anna Hranyczny

    March 7, 2024at1:25 pm

    If anyone knows how to apply please tell me

  9. Avatar

    DONNA Marie Mayo

    March 7, 2024at1:05 pm

    Thank God there are still people with a heart for humanity and not letting greed take over ..God bless you!!

  10. Avatar

    Mary moraro

    March 7, 2024at12:48 pm

    Good idea but still,we deserve help too!
    Cause anyway, everyone know how this thing work,the one’s involve in this project,
    For sure half of this people are related with them! So I’m not even thinking to waste my time! Good luck !

  11. Avatar

    Mike

    March 7, 2024at7:48 am

    Angela in no way does this development assist working people. 66 units are being paid for by the other 1735 working families that didn’t win this lottery.

    Stop telling me this is championing working people. This is spitting in our faces. In 2024 you would be a fool to pay your own way, have your homework, invest in yourself or believe in a better life. Welch and his ilk will just spit in your face.

    I’m a working person like anyone else. Where’s my QUARTER MILLION dollar subsidy? Where’s the QUARTER MILLION dollar subsidy for the other 1735 working families that live under the boot of government taxation and regulation that serves only to exacerbate this problem???

    This is throwing gasoline on the housing problem fire. AND these people in this article. The politicians and developers DIRECTLY benefit from spitting in the faces of working people that aren’t lucky enough to win this lottery.

  12. Avatar

    Angela Wilson

    March 7, 2024at7:11 am

    Mike and Ray what and how do you suggest money is used to get affordable housing in a City , County , and state where support staff like teachers, restaurant workers, healthcare workers, police support staff, first responders and others have been priced out of their hometowns? What is your “sustainable solution “ to helping folks become housed and stay housed.

  13. Avatar

    Angela Wilson

    March 7, 2024at7:00 am

    I don’t know what Mike is talking about. Good job presenting people with an option to have a home. Apartment homes are homes too. I am thankful that some groups have come together to help those less fortunate. Blue Sky, The city of Saint Petersburg, Pinellas County, and the Housing Authority should be congratulated. As a tax payer in this City, I feel better knowing that my tax dollars were partially used to fund housing that many at about $350.-$400.00 per month will be able to afford.

  14. Avatar

    Carl

    March 7, 2024at6:38 am

    What about senior and disabled who can’t afford live in St Pete.

  15. Avatar

    Jacqueline Kelley

    March 7, 2024at1:11 am

    How do I apply

  16. Avatar

    Ray Johnson

    March 7, 2024at12:18 am

    Mike is absolutely correct! If only more people would apply common sense and question these decisions. The amount of taxpayer money that is tossed around is outrageous. I’d like to see the accounting ….line item by line item of each funding or grant. And they get away with it political doublespeak daily.

  17. Avatar

    Carl Eri c Dyment

    March 6, 2024at11:15 pm

    I have interest in application process 68 Pasadena

  18. Avatar

    Terry Chapman

    March 6, 2024at9:37 pm

    Where can I apply Please

  19. Avatar

    Linda DeHaan

    March 6, 2024at8:39 pm

    I think Pinellas needs more of this

  20. Avatar

    Mike

    March 6, 2024at8:11 pm

    How do they get away with this? An unsustainable subsidized housing lottery is called “affordable”. Ten million dollars subsidy for 66 units is affordable for WHO?

    I am profoundly ashamed to witness the embrace of irrationality as a virtue. Figgs sanders is one of the last people on earth that should be the arbiter of “deserving “.

    How does any of this make any sense? How do they get away with this? I’m so ashamed to be a human and part of this town. Just shameful.

  21. Avatar

    Barbara Cordle

    March 6, 2024at7:35 pm

    How do you apply for the skyway loft for apartment. I am 68 a senior.

  22. Avatar

    Steve Sullivan

    March 6, 2024at2:00 pm

    Good job on the business model

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