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Third time might be the charm for unfinished Tarpon Springs apartment complex

The site, near Tarpon Springs Fundamental Elementary, has been an eyesore for years. The plan is to finish 36 units.

Times (2010)

The site, near Tarpon Springs Fundamental Elementary, has been an eyesore for years. The plan is to finish 36 units.

TARPON SPRINGS — Maybe the third time's the charm.

An unfinished apartment complex on Mango Street, not far from Tarpon Springs Fundamental Elementary School, has been an eyesore in the community for several years.

Twice before, the property's owners have tried to finish the construction work. The original developer put up three building frames in 2006, then walked away. A chain-link fence went up to keep vagrants out.

In 2010, the Tarpon Springs Housing Authority tried to transform the site into affordable apartments, but it couldn't scrape up enough funding.

Now another outfit, a nondenominational Christian group called Volunteers of America, will take a stab at it. On Tuesday night, Tarpon Springs city commissioners approved the group's plan to build 36 apartments there to provide housing for the poor.

"This project died twice before we got involved," said Kevin Letch, the organization's vice president of housing and development. A Pinellas County affordable housing grant will pay the $3.7 million in construction costs.

There was no opposition from the surrounding neighborhood. The 3-acre site at 802 Mango St. is located next to the Mango Circle public housing community.

But before giving their approval, Tarpon commissioners wanted to know more about who would live in the new complex.

"The demographic is very low (income) and low income," Letch answered. But tenants would have long-term leases; the site won't be used for short-term housing.

A full-time property manager will run the place. No sex offenders will be allowed, and also no one with a felony or drug offense in the last five years.

Rents would be roughly $500 for a one-bedroom, $650 for a two-bedroom and around $900 for a three-bedroom apartment.

Volunteers of America hopes to start construction in the next month and finish in eight months.

In other business

In other business Tuesday night, Tarpon commissioners did the following:

• Requested proposals from businesses that are interested in starting a concession stand at Sunset Beach.

• Discussed making changes to Tarpon Avenue's busy intersection with Safford Avenue and the Pinellas Trail. Commissioners didn't make any final decisions, but they nixed the idea of a four-way stop and talked of lowering the speed limit there to 15 mph from 25.

• Approved a beer and wine license for Captain Pappas Fish Market, a recently opened restaurant at 210 Dodecanese Blvd. along the Sponge Docks.

Mike Brassfield can be reached at or (727) 445-4151. To submit a letter to the editor, go to

. Fast facts

Affordable housing is approved

Tarpon Springs commissioners approved a Volunteers of America plan to build 36 low income apartments at a site on Mango Street.

Approximate apartment rental figures:

$500 for a one-bedroom; $650 for a two-bedroom; $900 for a three-bedroom.

• No short-term leases.

• A county affordable housing grant will pay $3.7 million in construction costs.

• It's expected to be finished in eight months.

Third time might be the charm for unfinished Tarpon Springs apartment complex 02/08/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 8:25pm]
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