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Sarasota County to see start of two affordable housing projects

The projects will be built on county-owned land near the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport and Sarasota High School.

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  • | 12:15 p.m. April 9, 2020
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Several affordable housing projects are heading to Sarasota County after county staff highlighted county-owned parcels that could be used for the projects.

Affordable housing has long been a priority of the County Commission. Last year, it hired Collier’s International to analyze 11 county-owned properties that were previously identified by the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee as having potential to be used for affordable housing.

Matt Osterhoudt, director of planning and development services, said Collier’s looked at a variety of criteria, such as infrastructure, proximity to grocery stores and proximity to public transportation, when considering the most viable options.

Collier’s International highlighted three properties that would best be suited: 4644 N. Tamiami Trail, 899 School Ave. S. and land near Palmer Boulevard and Celery Fields, though that parcel has since become a conservation easement.

Staff is now in negotiations  with Miami nonprofit Carrfour Supportive Housing, which submitted a $1.5 million offer for the 6-acre parcel at 4644 N. Tamiami Trail, south of Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. The county purchased the land for $1.2 million in 2015.

In a letter to county staff, Carrfour President and CEO Stephanie Berman said the nonprofit has supplied homes for more than 10,000 formerly homeless men and women.

Carrfour’s plans include a minimum of a 80 mixed-income apartments, according to county documents.

Carrfour’s proposal states that rent would range from $439 to $1,278, depending on the unit type. The affordable housing units would serve residents with an income between 33% and 80% of the annual median income for Sarasota County.

In 2019, 100% AMI for a Sarasota County household was $70,900. This would mean the units would serve those with salaries ranging from $23,397 to $56,720.

“We are confident that our team can work with the county to craft a viable financing and development plan for the property that will help increase the supply of affordable housing in Sarasota County while also providing a beautiful community, which will serve as a catalyst for the development of the North Trail corridor,” Berman wrote in her letter.

The plans call for a four-story building with balconies. The nonprofit is proposing 40 one-bedroom, one-bathroom units and 40 two-bedroom, two-bathroom units.

The apartments would vary in size between 650 square feet for a one-bedroom unit and 1,000 square feet for a two-bedroom unit. Each would have Energy Star-rated appliances, water-saving plumbing fixtures and space for a washer and dryer set.

The documents say solar panels also will be incorporated into the design. Amenities would include a clubhouse with a game room, fitness center and cyber-cafe.

Carrfour’s proposal estimates closing of the property could be done by the end of 2021, with construction taking about a year. The group estimates the units will be ready for occupancy by the end of 2022.

The property at 899 School Ave. is located near Sarasota High School and Alta Vista Elementary.

Osterhoudt told the board there were some issues with the parcel because it is long and slender and sits close to the highway. He also said there are some infrastructure issues, but they could be worked through.

Commissioner Al Maio questioned whether the county would consider a bid from the school district given the parcel’s proximity to two district schools.

“At the convocation of governments, they said they want to begin the process of workforce housing, affordable housing for new teachers moving into our area,” Maio said. “You might get some interest from them on this.”

Osterhoudt said the county would accept bids from the school district if it was interested, and commissioners directed staff to begin collecting bids for the parcel.


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