Construction is underway on Delmar 745, a $21 million, 12-story apartment building in downtown St. Petersburg that will provide affordable housing.
The project, with 65 one- and two-bedroom apartments for formerly homeless and low-income individuals and families, comes amidst a housing crisis in Pinellas County.
There’s a deficit of 19,820 units for extremely low-income households and nearly 34,000 for households at or below 50 percent of adjusted median income, according to a recent study from the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg and Collaborative Solutions Inc.
McCormack Baron Salazar Inc., a St. Louis-based company that specializes in the revitalization of urban neighborhoods, is the developer of Delmar 745. The project broke ground in April and is expected to be completed in fall 2019, said Sandra Seals, senior vice president.
Delmar 745 will be managed by Royal American Management Inc., the Panama City-based company that also manages Burlington Place and Burlington Post, affordable housing apartments in Kenwood.
McCormack Baron has developed more than 21,000 homes in 45 cities, including in Miami. Delmar 745 is the company’s first project in the Tampa Bay area.
“Affordable housing is the foundation for helping families stabilize,” Seals said. “It’s not just housing — people need housing and services – but recognizing that safe decent housing that one can afford really becomes a foundation from which people can thrive. They can go to work, they can go to school, once they know they have a safe place to be for themselves and for their children.
“Now that cities are becoming a place that many people want to live, there’s a crunch. Everyone wants to be in the cities. That has indirectly started to push out people with less income,” Seals said.
McCormack Baron was contacted by local politicians in 2014, who heard about the Miami project, Seals said.
Boley Centers, a service provider for the homeless, helped identify the site, which was vacant before construction began.
Half of the apartments – 33 units – will be set aside for individuals or families who were formerly homeless, with the rest for families whose income ranges from 40 to 60 percent of the area’s median income. Rents will range from $450 to $675 a month for one-bedroom apartments and $540 to $810 a month for two-bedroom apartments.
A major challenge in building affordable housing is that the cost of construction exceeds what the company can make in rent, Seals said. That’s why the company pulls in multiple funding sources that allows it to earn a developer fee.
To build Delmar 745, McCormack Baron Salazar received low income housing tax credits from the Florida Housing Finance Corp., in a process that Seals described as very competitive. US Bancorp Community Development Corp. is an investor, getting the tax credits in exchange for equity in the project. Pinellas County owns the land, and McCormack Baron is leasing that land from the county.
The project is only blocks from condominiums that sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars up to several million dollars.
“A healthy city is diverse, and a place where you can live if you are a doctor, a chef or a waitress,” Seals said. “But in order for that to happen we need affordable housing.”
St. Petersburg officials were very upfront about the need for affordable housing, she said. That doesn’t happen in every community, Seals said.
Delmar 745 will have a variety of services onsite for its residents, similar to Burlington Post and Burlington Place, said Melissa Dugas, regional vice president for Royal American Management.
“We’ve learned how to help people be successful,” Dugas said. “When you are awarded low-income housing tax credits, along with that comes resident services such as financial counseling, helping residents find jobs and create resumes. Sometimes it’s nutrition classes. There’s a long list of resident services that we provide every month.”
Boley Centers also will have a supportive services staff member on site, who can work with residents for whatever needs the family has, Seals said.
McCormack Baron is being proactive in reaching out to the residents who live near Delmar Terrace, including sharing information about the project through regular email updates and is addressing inconveniences that come up during construction, Seals said. The company plans to offer a free carwash because of construction dust, as well as a free Kahwa coffee.
A website for Delmar 745 will be live in the next 30 days, and the company will start building a waiting list for prospective residents. Marketing will get underway in earnest about 120 days before completion, with a heavy emphasis on reaching out to police officers, teachers, hospital staff and other service workers in the area, Dugas said.