DUNEDIN — Less than two years after opening a public housing complex in Clearwater, the Dunedin Housing Authority wants to sell the property.
The authority says it initially purchased Fairway Gardens to avoid a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development deadline, after which the authority would have lost its federal replacement housing dollars.
Now, officials hope to sell the complex to the Clearwater Housing Authority and use the proceeds to get what they really want — a site within Dunedin proper.
The Dunedin authority's board has already approved the tentative sale. The Dunedin City Commission will consider the move at its meeting tonight and, if commissioners approve, an application to close the transaction will go to HUD for approval.
Mayor Dave Eggers has already drafted a letter in support of the sale, which officials from both authorities say stands to increase low-income housing opportunities in their respective cities.
"The decision to move forward with the purchase of the property at the time allowed DHA to utilize this federal funding to create much-needed affordable housing within our service area," Dunedin authority chairman David Kelly said in a statement.
"However," he said, "we'd now like to focus on adding more housing options for low-income families within Dunedin city limits."
Under the proposal, officials said, Fairway Gardens tenants would notice no change and would have the same manager.
The complex, made up of two 10-unit buildings at 30 and 110 N Lady Mary Drive east of downtown Clearwater and across the street from the Clearwater Country Club, opened in June 2011.
The Dunedin authority bought the property in October 2010 for $730,000 using HUD money as well as proceeds from the sale of the property that housed Highlander Village, the dilapidated 30-year-old Dunedin public housing complex the authority demolished in 2004. The authority spent another $120,000 on renovations.
At the time, officials said an exhaustive search hadn't yielded any buildings in its price range within Dunedin. The authority's jurisdiction, though, includes a 10-mile radius around Dunedin, and Fairway Gardens gave preference for its 15 public housing and five affordable housing units to people who lived or worked in Dunedin.
The Dunedin authority approached the Clearwater authority about buying the complex a few months ago, officials say.
HUD would set the final sale price based on a pending property appraisal, which the Dunedin authority is "confident" would be higher than the purchase price. County property records list the complex's market value at $772,600.
Meanwhile, a Dunedin authority spokeswoman says the agency has identified three potential sites within city limits.
Clearwater Housing Authority chief executive officer Jacqueline Rivera said Fairway Gardens would become the eighth community the authority owns.
The quaint buildings, Rivera said, would further the authority's goal of moving away from the historic model of large public housing complexes.
"When you have an extreme like that concentrated in one area, it creates more social issues than you want to in the community," she said. "So we're looking for smaller properties that can be mainstreamed into the larger community, where we add value to the community."
Rivera said the Clearwater authority, whose properties already house 1,500 to 2,000 people, would give preference at Fairway Gardens to teens aging out of foster care and homeless families.
Keyonna Summers can be reached at (727) 445-4153 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.