Local News

County could get $6 million affordable rental project

— Plans for a $6.5 million, 44-house affordable rental housing development are moving forward, an Avon Park housing official said Monday.

The Florida Housing Finance Corp. has preliminarily approved $5 million for Cornell Colony, which will be located on what is now an empty field at 517 W. Cornell St., said Larry Shoeman, executive director of the Avon Park Housing Authority.

Shoeman said the corporation had $20 million to fund four projects, each about $5 million.

If everything goes as planned, some of those houses could be ready for occupancy by the end of spring 2015, Shoeman said.

“We feel comfortable about it,” Shoeman said, in regards to the remaining elements of the plan being finalized.

Besides the $5 million, he said, $350,000 in State Housing Initiative Program funds will be sought from Highlands County, along with a $1.2 million conventional loan. He said a bank has committed to the loan and he doesn’t anticipate a problem from the county. He also doesn’t anticipate problems from an environmental assessment required for the land.

The site plan also needs approval from the city of Avon Park, he said.

Developers had previously proposed apartments for the land, but that met resistance from neighbors, he said. The zoning for the 44 homes was already in place.

Shoeman said the project is part of a joint venture between the housing authority and Marty Wohl of Marmer Construction. He said Marmer would build the houses, but upon completion, the Avon Park Housing Authority would own the improved property and operate the development.

Each house will be about 1,250 square feet and have three bedrooms and two full baths, Shoeman said.

Additionally, the development would have a community building and a playground area.

Of those units, 20 percent would be restricted to someone making 50 percent or less of the area median income, which currently is $44,000,Shoeman said.

The remainder would be restricted to people earning 60 percent or less of the median income, he said.

The rent would depend on the person’s income, Shoeman said. He said a monthly rent around $600 for a three-bedroom house is good for the market.

Shoeman said he expects there will be heavy demand as more than 100 people are awaiting housing in North Central Heights, another affordable housing complex operated by the authority.

Cornell Colony will be a smaller version of North Central Heights, but will have the same features, he said.


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