At a time when many large property developments have ground to a halt, one 304-unit apartment complex in southeast Largo is pushing ahead.
The Largo Villas project passed a zoning hurdle Tuesday night as city commissioners unanimously voted to allow an increase in housing density while reducing the number of planned parking spaces.
City planners have decided to support the project because of its potential to jump-start other development around the hardscrabble stretch of 66th Street N near Ulmerton Road where the site is located.
Commissioners had concerns that there were not enough spaces in the plan, but data provided by the developer put them at ease.
"It's located near some of the employment centers. That's part of the reason we're supporting it," said city community development director Carol Stricklin.
"If you look just north of it, part of it was converted to private storage, part of it's vacant. It could help the 66th Street corridor."
The apartment complex would be located on the former site of a golf driving range, now abandoned and overgrown with vegetation.
Dennis Winzler, president of Fairfield Building Co., the project developer, said that while securing financing for the $20 million project is proving to be a tough sell, his market research shows the Pinellas rental apartment market has not completely met demand because of the lack of space to build.
"We've done a full market appraisal. This market has not added the rental supply that other areas around the state have," Winzler said.
The average unit size will be 980 square feet, with one- to three-bedroom floor plans.
And who is expected to live in Largo Villas?
"It'll be a balanced mix. Some empty-nesters, some young professionals. Multiple floor plans appealing to different clientele," Winzler said.