TAMPA — Developer Darryl Shaw has one of the final pieces of his Ybor City jigsaw.
In partnership with Washington D.C based real estate firm Kettler, Shaw on Thursday evening completed the purchase of more than half of the Tampa Park Apartments housing complex. The partnership paid $28.5 million for 12.7 of the 18 acres that make up the housing complex, which abuts Nick Nuccio Parkway. Shaw is the co-founder of BluePearl, an animal hospital company.
The property is considered by city officials as a pivotal development to help link Ybor City to downtown Tampa. Along with neighboring properties Shaw already owns, including the 7.6-acre GasWorx site and land once chosen by the Tampa Bay Rays for a new ballpark, it gives him a sizable development footprint on the south side of Ybor City.
Shaw has said he is planning a walkable residential development that will compliment Ybor’s history and character.
“The development of this land is critical to creating a seamless connection between Ybor, the Channel District, Encore, our downtown and even Tampa Heights,” Shaw said in a statement. “In order to achieve that goal, we will look at incorporating bike and pedestrian paths, intermodal connections, and diverse housing options.”
With monthly rents roughly $300 lower than the Hillsborough County average, Tampa Park was one of the last places where low-income families, seniors and people on disability benefits could afford to live close to downtown. Roughly 270 mostly low-income families were relocated ahead of the purchase.
Shaw agreed to pay $1,500 in moving and relocation costs to each family, an outlay that cost upward of $800,000. Concerned that residents wouldn’t be able to afford rents elsewhere, Hillsborough County commissioners allocated $650,000 in aid to help about 160 families cover their first three month’s rent in new lodgings.
The purchase marks another significant step in Shaw’s plans to rejuvenate and expand Ybor City. In conjunction with business partners, he has spent more than $60 million buying roughly 150 parcels of land in and around the historic district. He is part of FBN Partners, a group of local investors who have loaned $15 million to Times Publishing Co., which owns the Tampa Bay Times.
He has already developed the Hotel Haya and the historic Oliva Cigar Factory, which was converted to 38 apartments.
It’s unclear what Tampa Park Apartments, the nonprofit group that sold most of the complex, will do with the windfall from the sale.
The group is headed by S. Kay Andrews, publisher of the Florida Sentinel Bulletin newspaper. Other listed officers of the nonprofit include James Harrell, former president of the Local No. 1402 of the International Longshoremen’s Union.
The complex was built in the late 1960s through the leadership of Andrews’ grandfather, C. Blythe Andrews, on land donated by the city of Tampa. It was intended as housing for longshoremen working at the nearby Port Tampa Bay and as affordable housing for the Black community.
A 2018 tax return states that the group received $2.6 million in rents from the property but paid out $2.7 million in rental expenses. The group reported losses of $137,000 in 2017 and $685,000 a year earlier.
In an article published last year in her newspaper, Andrews said her group had done what it could to continue providing housing for low-income families for as long as possible. It become increasingly difficult to maintain the property after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development decided in 2018 to stop subsidizing rents in 170 apartments after four failed inspections. Federal inspectors found cockroaches, broken or cracked windows, damaged stoves and refrigerators, and exposed wiring in the 1960s-era homes.
The nonprofit group told residents at the end of 2019 that it planned to sell and gave them until November to find a new home. But there were still about 100 families living there in October when maintenance workers accompanied by armed security guards changed the locks on more than 20 residents who were either behind on their rent or whose leases had expired.
Tampa Park’s owners were also criticized by some Hillsborough commissioners after the Tampa Bay Times reported that residents were being charged for repairs after they moved out — even though their apartments are slated to be demolished.
Now that this purchase has closed, more details on the plan for the property’s future are expected to be released this spring, according to a news release, with construction beginning as early as the fall.