Saturday, January 20, 2018
Business

Charlie Crist pays another visit to troubled Jordan Park complex as sale nears

ST. PETERSBURG — An electrician's van sat in front of Heidi Hampton's Jordan Park home shortly after noon Thursday.

Hampton, 41, said it had been two days since she called managers of the public housing complex near 22nd Street and Ninth Avenue S to report the smell of wires burning in her ceiling.

"I called the office nine times," she said.

Several doors away, former governor Charlie Crist, now running for Congress, told reporters how upset he was that conditions continue to deteriorate at the 237-unit low-income complex.

Residents there have complained about rats, mold and aging appliances. Crist said residents have reached out to him for help. He met with them in July and sent a letter to the St. Petersburg Housing Authority, asking the commissioners to intervene. The rodent issue seems to have been addressed, he said, "but the other issues still remain."

But he said he has received no response to his Aug. 31 letter.

"The ideal response is to improve the conditions for the residents," Crist said. "That's the bottom line and that's the goal. That's what they deserve and that's what they should have."

He added: "They should get rid of the rats. They should get rid of termites. They should get rid of the mold and have the living conditions be better for these people in our fair city."

Crist, a Democrat, is running against U.S. Rep. David Jolly, the Republican incumbent from Belleair Bluffs, in the 13th Congressional District.

The St. Petersburg Housing Authority plan to fix Jordan Park is still to buy back the property it once owned. They plan to pay Jordan Park Development Partners $400,000 and expect to close on the apartments on Sept. 30.

The complex, demolished in 2000, was rebuilt with $27 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, low-income housing tax credits, a $500,000 federal home loan and a $3.1 million loan from the City of St. Petersburg.

In an agreement with Jordan Park Development Partners, the housing authority owns the land. Jordan Park Development owns the buildings, pays nothing to lease the land and is responsible for maintaining the property.

As the housing authority prepares to buy Jordan Park back, it wants St. Petersburg to forgive the $3.1 million loan. But City Council member Steve Kornell wants an audit first. One of the questions that should be asked, he says, is whether the property was properly maintained according to the loan agreement.

The housing authority has maintained that under the agreement it signed 15 years ago with Jordan Park Development Partners, it could do little about conditions there.

As for Hampton's electrical problem: "He didn't smell anything," she said as the electrician drove off.

Contact Waveney Ann Moore at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283. Follow @wmooretimes.

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