Affordable housing complex under construction in Tampa’s university area

The 61 apartments will be set aside for families making less than the local median income.
A rendering depicts the 61-unit Uptown Sky affordable housing development, scheduled to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2022 in Tampa.
A rendering depicts the 61-unit Uptown Sky affordable housing development, scheduled to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2022 in Tampa. [ Courtesy of University Area CDC ]
Published Dec. 6, 2021|Updated Dec. 6, 2021

Affordable apartments are sorely needed throughout Tampa Bay, after a year of record-shattering rent spikes. But they’re especially necessary in the university area of Tampa, argue the people erecting a new complex there.

The apartments, called Uptown Sky, are under construction at the intersection of 12th Street and Fletcher Avenue after the project broke ground in September.

When the complex is completed, it will have 61 units, all reserved for people making less than the area median income. That means, depending on the unit type and the number of people in the household, they will be available for families making between $25,850 and $55,860, one of the developers said.

“The Uptown area has a decades-long history of being a place where poor people rent old units ... and a lot of them are in bad shape,” said Shawn Wilson, president of Tampa-based Blue Sky Communities, which is developing the complex in partnership with the University Area Community Development Corporation. “A building like this, in an area with so many poor-quality options for residents, is going to give them a higher quality of life.”

Related: In Tampa Bay, it takes three minimum wage jobs to make rent, report says

The total cost of the complex is expected to be $17.9 million, he said. The project is funded through a combination of bonds issued by the Housing Finance Authority of Hillsborough County, a low-interest loan from the county and a tax-deductible investment by health insurance company Aetna, according to a news release.

The complex is scheduled to be completed by the end of next year.

All floor plans will feature either two or three bedrooms because the development is intended for families, Wilson said.

There isn’t a formal waitlist for Uptown Sky, though interested renters can sign up on the development’s website to be notified when the property begins taking applications, likely around August. Wilson said once applications open up, it will be first-come, first-served so that people who submit them quickest will be considered first.

He also said he expects demand to exceed the number of apartments available.

“We have 61 units but we’re going to have at least 500 people on the waiting list when we open applications, I’m quite sure of that,” Wilson said.

Related: Investors buying Tampa Bay homes at record rate, creating steep competition

In addition to the apartments, Uptown Sky will also feature programs for tenants, developers said, like swim lessons at the complex pool, yoga and karate. There will also be a computer lab with classes on resume writing, applying for jobs and other employment skills.

The project’s name was chosen after a series of events for nearby residents, said Sarah Combs, CEO of the University Area Community Development Corporation. The “sky” was inspired by Blue Sky Communities.

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“That song by Bruno Mars, Uptown Funk, was really popular at the time,” Combs said. “So Uptown Sky was born.”