Thursday, April 19, 2018
News Roundup

Brooksville Housing Authority looks to auction off subsidized apartment complexes

BROOKSVILLE — Federal officials like the idea of moving residents out of the Brooksville Housing Authority's two aging subsidized apartment complexes.

The authority board, though, has decided that razing Summit Villas and Hillside Estates and selling the vacant land is probably not possible.

The problem: The authority can't afford the estimated $1 million bill to take the wrecking ball to both complexes, and there is likely no money available from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The cost of demolition might be more than the properties are worth as they stand right now, said housing board Chairman Randy Woodruff.

The goal will be to unload the properties quickly, Woodruff said.

"That pretty much leaves us with public auction as our only option," he said.

After consulting with HUD officials, the board is amending its demolition application to reflect that strategy. The part of the application that seeks funding for Section 8 vouchers for residents to use toward the cost of other housing remains unchanged. The application must be approved before residents can begin to move.

"That's going to happen," Woodruff said. "That needs to happen."

Woodruff said he is hopeful that residents will be redeeming vouchers and starting to move by mid summer, though he emphasized that's based on his assessment — and some level of optimism — and not a timetable from HUD.

"Under federal law, upon approval of the disposition application and funding, families will be provided with relocation to other comparable housing," HUD spokeswoman Gloria Shanahan told the Tampa Bay Times in an email. "No families will be directed to move out at their expense with no alternate housing."

That has been the message from board members to residents all along: Moving is inconvenient, but they will ultimately wind up with better housing. Still, the plan has sparked an outcry from residents who don't want to be uprooted. Some of those most concerned live in Summit Villas, a complex of single-story apartment buildings occupied mainly by tenants who are elderly, disabled or both.

The board voted in the summer of 2010 to start the application process after an architectural study concluded that repairing and modernizing both of the apartment complexes — comprised of 126 total units in 52 residential buildings, all built in the early 1970s — would cost a little more than $17 million. The demolition estimate came in at $1.1 million.

The authority is securing appraisals for both properties, and board members say they expect the value to come in well below what the Hernando County Property Appraiser's Office says the buildings and land are worth.

Hillside Estates sits on a 22-acre, triangular-shaped parcel between U.S. 41 and the Good Neighbor Trail, just east of the now-shuttered Rogers Christmas House Village. The eastern half of the property is wooded and undeveloped. The buildings are valued at $1.8 million, and the land is worth $316,246, according to the county property appraiser.

Summit Villas sits on 2 acres in the 500 block Dr. M.L. King Jr. Boulevard, west of Hale Avenue. The land is valued at $83,790, and the three apartment buildings and associated features at $549,312, property records show.

Both parcels are zoned for multifamily residential use, and both are in the Brooksville/Hernando Enterprise Zone, an area targeted for revitalization. Businesses that set up shop there could qualify for tax incentives.

City housing board member Gary Schraut, who has worked as a Realtor in Hernando County for the last 25 years, said the properties would almost certainly be more valuable as vacant land, and he expects appraisals will show that.

"Those structures are a liability, not an asset," he said.

The prospect of putting the properties on the auction block worries City Council member Lara Bradburn.

There's no guarantee that the buyer would have the financial wherewithal to raze the buildings and invest in the property, Bradburn said. Left to sit vacant, the buildings could descend into dangerous blight like Brook Villas, a vacant apartment complex just east of Hillside Estates.

"Definitely that's a concern," Bradburn said, "and also that someone would come in and use it for another subsidized housing unit, particularly people who aren't willing to put in the resources to make them quality housing units."

Bradburn has asked the city manager to invite housing board members to a meeting to talk about the plans.

Woodruff acknowledged the element of the unknown in the auction process, but there doesn't seem to be another option.

"There's no money," he said.

Despite the lack of reserve funds, the agency is on firmer footing now than it has been in a decade. The lingering cloud over the agency was lifted last fall month when it officially shed the "troubled" designation it held for nine years. The finances are in order, the occupancy rate is high and the turnaround time between tenants is short, HUD officials have said.

Board members say the goal remains to dissolve the authority once residents move out and are settled in new homes and the properties are sold.

Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or [email protected]

Comments
Hundreds mourn Durant High athlete killed at Brandon gas station

Hundreds mourn Durant High athlete killed at Brandon gas station

PLANT CITY — Many remembered Durant High School football player Grover Wills, 18, for his talent on the field, but almost as many remembered his penchant for bursting into dance and song. After practice or on team trips, Wills would mesmerize those a...
Updated: 5 minutes ago
Child, 19 months, hospitalized after being found in New Port Richey pond

Child, 19 months, hospitalized after being found in New Port Richey pond

NEW PORT RICHEY — A 19-month-old child was transported to a local hospital Thursday after being found unattended in a pond, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.Deputies said they were dispatched to a pond behind a home in the 4700 block of...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Column: No-win fishery bills would undermine businesses and innovation

The federal government delivered good news for anglers this week. Under newly approved two-year pilot programs, Florida and the other Gulf Coast states will manage red snapper fishing for private anglers. This means states can test ways to improve ac...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hernando County Commissioner arrested on prostitution charges

Hernando County Commissioner arrested on prostitution charges

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County Commissioner Nick Nicholson, 71, was arrested midday Thursday by the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office on multiple prostitution charges.Nicholson was booked into the Hernando County Detention Center on one count of operat...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tech Data names Rich Hume to take over as CEO

Tech Data names Rich Hume to take over as CEO

CLEARWATER — A longtime IBM executive is becoming the new leader of Tampa Bay’s largest public company. Tech Data announced Richard "Rich" Hume as its new CEO effective June 6. Hume joined Tech Data two years ago and is currently the chief operating ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
St. Petersburg police remove disabled adults from ‘deplorable’ assisted living facilities

St. Petersburg police remove disabled adults from ‘deplorable’ assisted living facilities

St. Petersburg Police on Thursday closed two assisted living facilities, citing "deplorable conditions," including no running water. The facilities are run by Tampa Bay Behavioral Health, located at 3434 Second Ave. S and 3418 Second Ave. S, accordin...
Updated: 1 hour ago
FHP: Distracted driver plunges more than 50 feet off I-275 in St. Petersburg

FHP: Distracted driver plunges more than 50 feet off I-275 in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — A distracted driver from Pinellas Park walked away unscathed after his car plunged 50 feet off Interstate 275.Thomas Highhouse, 61, of Pinellas Park, was driving his 2016 Chevy Camero along Interstate 275 around 11:10 a.m. when he lo...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bay area has ‘hit show’ again, thanks to USF

Bay area has ‘hit show’ again, thanks to USF

For the first time since its season commenced, the USF baseball team enters a weekend as the Bulls' feature sports attraction.Basketball ended last month, and spring football ended last Saturday, meaning would-be baseball fans no longer have reason t...
Updated: 2 hours ago
The Mallex Smith effect can take effect for Rays

The Mallex Smith effect can take effect for Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — Mallex Smith has style.Effervescent personality. Pop culture hipness. Sense of fashion with accoutrements.Now the Rays are going to find out if he has game.More specifically, enough game to be a front-line outfielder, even an i...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Column: Some facts and figures you might not know about civil rights restoration in Florida

After U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ruled Florida’s process for restoring felons’ civil rights was unconstitutional in early February, he allowed me to file a friend of the court brief to assist the court as it considered possible solutions. The br...
Updated: 2 hours ago