Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties is vying to purchase a site in South St. Pete, for a housing development tailored for low-income homeownership – solving one of the city’s biggest challenges.
Habitat would build the $13.5 million affordable housing development, dubbed Pelican Place, at a vacant site at 2100 18th Ave. South, across from the vacant Tangerine Plaza.
“The need for affordable housing at all categories and at all income levels is immense. At Habitat, we are solely focused on affordable homeownership, which we believe is one of the primary mechanisms in breaking the cycle of generational poverty and creating intergenerational wealth,” Habitat wrote in its proposal to the city.
Habitat submitted the proposal and bid after the city received an unsolicited proposal from the Green Mills Group, which offered the city $1 million to purchase or lease the same site. The Green Mills Group would build 96 affordable/workforce residential units at the site in a five-story building, according to its proposal.
Because Green Mills Group’s offer was not solicited, the city invited other interested parties to submit proposals by 10 a.m. Feb. 16 (today).
Habitat for Humanity would offer the city $750,000 to acquire the land to develop 44, three-story townhomes, which would be sold on a fee simple basis to income-qualified homebuyers. All of the units built will be sold to home purchasers who earn at or below 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI).
“We have the planned redevelopment of Tangerine Plaza and Dueces Rising. With the new economic activity, this is a huge opportunity for homeowners to participate in this growth,” King said.
Habitat anticipates the homes, which would be coastal-themed, would serve 130 adults and families. The monthly mortgage payments (including taxes, insurance and the HOA fee) for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom unit would average $1,211.
“In this area, you are seeing 70% renters and 30% homeowners. In other areas in St. Pete, that percentage is flipped,” said Sean King, director of government relations and advocacy at Habitat.
Under Habitat’s proposal, the homeowners are provided a conventional 30-year, 0% interest mortgage. Habitat would also eliminate a need for a down payment and not require private mortgage insurance (PMI). It would only require $1,000 in closing costs.
“This helps break the cycle of generational poverty by providing a path to affordable homeownership and significantly strengthening economic mobility. Moreover, eliminating the interest component of a mortgage keeps payments affordable and allows individuals who otherwise would not be able to afford a home to realize their dream of homeownership,” Habitat wrote.
The homes would range between 1,000 and 1,300 square feet. Habitat said it expects to develop nine two-bedroom units, nine four-bedroom units and 26 three-bedroom units. The units have one-car garages on the first floor.
The homes would feature hardwood cabinets, carpet/tile/vinyl flooring and Whirlpool appliances.
King said there would not be a clubhouse or amenity center as the group wants to maximize density.
At the time when the proposal was submitted, the group said it just completed its 729th home. The organization has a long history in Pinellas County and completed townhome developments in Clearwater and Dunedin. It’s currently planning to develop townhome communities in Largo and in Clearwater.
If the city selects Habitat’s proposal for the site, Habitat would commit to exclusively marketing the site to South St. Petersburg residents and city staff for the first three months of the program.
“We constantly hear how city staff members can’t live in St. Pete,” King said.
Habitat’s development plans do require public funding.
To assist in offsetting the nearly $62,000 per unit gap between development costs and proceeds from the unit sale, the group would seek financial support from the city and Penny for Pinellas IV funding. It would also engage the community in a capital fundraising campaign to offset the need for public dollars or additional financing by raising $1 million in private/corporate donations for the development.
King said this will establish a true public-private partnership.
A timeline was not disclosed, but a project of this size typically takes one to two years to complete.
This is a developing story as the city will be releasing all the submitted proposals after the 10 a.m. deadline upon review.