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Nonprofit land trust will build, sell affordable housing in West Shore

Westshore Landings One, a community of 57 two- and three- bedroom townhomes, is set to be complete in 2010. Its energy-efficient affordable homes are designed for young working professionals, tired of the long commute to their jobs.

Special to the Times

Westshore Landings One, a community of 57 two- and three- bedroom townhomes, is set to be complete in 2010. Its energy-efficient affordable homes are designed for young working professionals, tired of the long commute to their jobs.

CARVER CITY/ LINCOLN GARDENS — In an untimely twist of new construction in a bad economy, government stakeholders are moving forward with a project that they say will give working families the American dream, while preserving the environment.

The first owners of the 57 two- and three-bedroom townhomes at Westshore Landings One could move in as early as spring.

The affordable homes will sell for $96,000 to $127,000 and will be sold to owners who are income eligible. They are set to be fully occupied in 2010.

To discourage flippers looking to make a profit, the property will be held in a community land trust, and buyers will own the town homes, but not the land. The arrangement is a first in Hillsborough County, said Ron Rotella, executive director of the Westshore Alliance, a business group promoting the office community near Tampa International Airport.

The trust will also lower home costs and keep property taxes at a minimum, Rotella said.

"These energy-efficient affordable homes are geared toward young working professionals who are tired of the long commute," he said.

For years, he has watched people cross bridges, and drive sometimes more than an hour from suburbs to get to work here.

His alliance created Westshore Community Development Corp., a nonprofit, to address the housing need. Members also negotiated with the county, which donated a vacant plot of land formerly the site of a jail. Before that, the 3.7 acres on Spruce Street near Lois Avenue had been a landfill, but it has no environmental issues, Rotella said. The nonprofit will control the community trust.

"It's in the heart of the business district, two blocks from International Plaza," Rotella said Monday at a news conference, where he announced that the nonprofit had secured financing.

The state of Florida pledged $4 million for construction. Tampa added more than $1 million along with down payment assistance for individual buyers of up to $60,000.

The West Shore area — not far from the Lincoln Gardens/Carver City neighborhood — employs nearly 100,000 people at hotels, office parks, restaurants and shops, said Ann Kulig, the alliance's marketing director.

To qualify, applicants must be Florida residents who have not owned a home in the past three years. Lisa Reeves, the Realtor taking applications from potential buyers, anticipates most homeowners will annually make less than $33,000 if single or less than $47,000 for a family of four. However, some units can be sold to those with higher incomes.

Mortgage payments would be in the range of $730 to $1,009, depending on the model and other variables such as interest rates.

Buyers would need to ante up $500 to reserve a unit and bring one percent of the total cost to the table, or about $1,000, said Reeves.

The homes may also save their owners in utility bills. They are outfitted with cost savers such as solar water heaters and energy-efficient gas appliances, making the annual energy bill about $663, officials estimate. Also, floors and roofs are made of recycled products.

Palm Harbor Homes will build the townhouses in its Plant City factory and truck them to the site. From truck to move-in completion takes less than 60 days said Michael Wnek, senior vice president of sales and marketing.

Elisabeth Parker can be reached at eparker@sptimes.com or (813)226-3431.

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Interested in buying a townhome? Call Lisa Reeves at (813) 784-7442.

Nonprofit land trust will build, sell affordable housing in West Shore 07/16/09 [Last modified: Thursday, July 16, 2009 5:30am]
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