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Apartment project for low-income seniors gets green light in Hernando

BROOKSVILLE — Years in the making, the Hernando County Housing Authority's first housing project, an apartment building for low-income seniors, is about to become a reality.

The Florida Housing Finance Corp. last week approved the 60-unit project, which is to be built on 5 acres on the south side of Barnett Road just east of Windy Way. That moves the project toward a closing in mid October and ground breaking about a month later, according to Housing Authority director Donald Singer.

With a marketing approach of "front porch living at its best," the hope is that Magnolia Gardens fills up quickly after it opens about a year after construction begins, Singer said. The building will be in old Southern style similar to other Brooksville architecture right down to the red bricks, he said.

Amenities will include a library area, public computer access, a community room and a fitness room.

In preparation for work to begin and to draw local subcontractors into the work, the Housing Authority is having a pre-bid meeting Wednesday from 8 a.m. until noon at the Hernando County Housing Authority office at 1661 Blaise Drive in Brooksville.

The general contractor, NRP Contractors LLC, will be on hand to talk about the project with prospective bidders. Singer urged local subcontractors to stop by and ask some questions about the job.

The $10 million project is primarily funded through federal stimulus money and tax credits as well as $75,000 in multifamily funds through the State Housing Initiatives Program.

The building will be three stories with 30 units as one-bedroom and 30 as two-bedroom apartments. Square footage ranges from 700 to 980. The units are restricted to age 55 and above with 10 percent of the units set aside for those with an income of 35 percent of the median family income with the rest for those up to 60 percent the median family income.

For a couple, that would mean a family income of about $25,000, Singer said. Early projections place the rent at $650 for the one-bedroom and $695 for the two-bedroom units.

"Our market survey clearly showed there was a need" for this type of housing, Singer said.

A private developer is preparing to build a similar project in the Spring Hill area, which also includes $16 million in tax credit and stimulus funding. That planned project, at the southwest corner of Quality Drive and Medical Boulevard, is set to have 90 units.

Even with that project, Singer predicted there is far more need than there will be available units for low-income seniors.

Housing authority board member Paul Sullivan said that years ago he met some homeless people who were too proud to ask for help, and from that time on he knew there was a segment of Hernando County's population that needed this kind of housing assistance.

"It's going to be very nice," said Sullivan, who has pushed for years for the project. "It's something that Hernando County doesn't have."

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

Apartment project for low-income seniors gets green light in Hernando 09/20/10 [Last modified: Monday, September 20, 2010 10:02pm]
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