Advertisement
  1. News
  2. /
  3. St. Petersburg

Feds warn St. Pete housing agency it could lose funding for Jordan Park

Federal deadlines have come and gone and now the housing agency is considering pursuing a different financing plan.
The bungalows at Jordan Park in St. Petersburg sit empty behind a gate put up to enclose the properties. Federal money to rehabilitate the public housing project is in jeopardy. [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Tampa Bay Times]
The bungalows at Jordan Park in St. Petersburg sit empty behind a gate put up to enclose the properties. Federal money to rehabilitate the public housing project is in jeopardy. [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Feb. 11

ST. PETERSBURG — It’s been more than two years since the St. Petersburg Housing Authority moved residents out of the historic village at Jordan Park, a first step toward redeveloping the south St. Petersburg housing complex.

But its craftsman-style bungalows remain vacant and the agency has yet to finalize a financing plan for the project, leading the federal government to warn that it may revoke a funding commitment.

In a letter sent Jan. 31, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said that the housing agency missed several deadlines to submit financing plans for the $52 million project. Some deadlines date as far back as May 2018, when the agency was led by Tony Love, who was later fired. There was also a four-month delay because a required environmental study was not commissioned.

What’s more, the project has been on pause since September while consultants explore whether the Housing Authority should apply for a different federal funding program that would provide an additional $6 million toward rehabilitating Jordan Park. Federal officials on Tuesday gave the agency until March 20 to make a decision.

If that deadline is not met, the project would lose its award of federal rent subsidies, which the Housing Authority is relying on to pay back construction loans and other expenses.

“You’ve missed so many milestones along the way,” said Gregory Byrne, director of the federal agency’s Affordable Housing Transaction Division, who dialed into an emergency Housing Authority meeting Tuesday.

Related: Turmoil continues at St. Pete housing agency as new board member resigns

The Housing Authority began work on redeveloping Jordan Park shortly after buying it in 2016. It included rehabilitating about 200 units of public housing and demolishing 31 historic bungalows, believed to be the first African American development project in St. Petersburg. A 60-unit senior housing building will replace them.

The financing plan for the project was put together by Love and consultants and relies on rent subsidies through the federal Rental Assistance Demonstration program.

But after Love was fired in August, the agency was run for about two months by leaders of the Tampa Housing Authority. They expressed concerns about the Jordan Park plan and recommended that the agency apply instead for Section 18 funding, a federal program for the demolition and rebuilding of older public housing.

That program will provide substantially higher rent subsidies, enabling the project to include essentials like new electrical panels compatible with modern electric water heaters, air-conditioning units and clothes dryers. It will also pay for attic insulation and an irrigation system throughout the entire complex, raising the overall cost to about $64 million.

“It didn’t feel like the budget was adequately put together,” said Leroy Moore, the Tampa Housing Authority’s chief operating officer. “You go through such turmoil in moving people out, you want that to be a 15 to 20 year repair. You don’t want to do piecemeal work.”

Federal officials also said Tuesday they had concerns about whether there would be sufficient funds for ongoing maintenance under the original plan.

Consultants working on the project said Tuesday they could finalize a Section 18 application within about two weeks. It would need to be approved by the Housing Authority board at its Feb. 27 meeting.

Still, some board members were clearly frustrated by the lack of progress.

St. Petersburg Housing Authority board member Terri Lipsey Scott is frustrated that the agency has nothing to show yet for its investment in Jordan Park. [Times]

“We have paid to the tune of over $1 million to date on a project that remains stalled," said Terri Lipsey-Scott. “We have nothing to show for the investments that have been made.”

The original plan for Jordan Park was well underway when the majority of the housing agency’s board was appointed in 2019 after a tumultuous year. Five board members were replaced by St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman in 2019 after a Tampa Bay Times investigation revealed a lack of oversight of the agency.

The agency also came under scrutiny by the federal government after it used agency funds to sue Kriseman and the city of St. Petersburg for that decision. In December, Love sued the Housing Authority in federal court claiming it violated the Family Medical Leave Act when it dismissed him.

TAMPA BAY TIMES INVESTIGATION: ST. PETERSBURG HOUSING AUTHORITY

St. Petersburg housing agency board approved pay raise for CEO without reviewing his evaluation

St. Petersburg Housing Authority CEO lived rent-free in low-income housing — while earning $140,000 salary

Consultant got $3,600 to teach St. Pete housing CEO to be nicer, stop screaming at staff

Majority of employees report ‘hostile work environment’ created by St. Pete housing agency CEO

CEO Tony Love fired by St. Petersburg Housing Authority

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

  1. Patrick Suiters, 10, left, and Gabriel Stanford, 9, both fourth-graders at San Jose Elementary School in Dunedin, fill out a survey after tasting falafel tots and nuggets during the 2nd Annual Student Food Connection taste test at Pinellas Technical College. About 120 students tasted and rated 28 new food items that could be added to school breakfast and lunch menus next year.
  2. People fill Community Cafe as drag queen Viktoria Sommers reads a Dr. Seuss book to children during Drag Queen Story Hour.  [Times (2019)]
  3. The Pinellas County school system is offering driver education camps to hundreds of students like this one over the summer. The program will be held over two sessions at nine high school campuses across the county.
  4. The Sunken Gardens Forever Foundation has published a children's book, "Sophie & Zack at Sunken Gardens." The project includes giving a copy of the book to third graders in Title I schools in St. Petersburg and inviting them to visit the gardens on a docent-led trip.
  5. Brian Davison is chief executive officer of Equialt, which bought this Safety Harbor home in a tax deed sale. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission contends in a new lawsuit that EquiAlt is a Ponzi scheme, and Davison has diverted investor funds for his own lavish personal spending. Times (2015)
  6. Madico spent $40 million developing its new corporate headquarters and factory on Belcher Road in Pinellas Park. [Amy Pezzicara | Pezz Photo]
  7. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates.
  8. Localtopia is St. Pete's largest “Community Celebration of All Things Local,” showcasing over 200 independent businesses and community organizations.
  9. Police say Terrence Hoover, right, broke into a $4 million Vinoy Place condo on Jan. 17. The penthouse is owned by Scott Swift, left, the father of supererstar Taylor Swift.
  10. Express Parcel Service says is plans to shut down its operations at the Amazon distribution station at 9900 18th Street N in St. Petersburg, as well as in Tampa, Miami, Fort Myers and Palmetto. (Google street view)
  11. Luis Espel, 22, uses the Cass Street bike lane to commute to work in Tampa. Times (2019)
  12. Justin Callahan, 34, from St. Pete, looks out to the water as the sunrises on a crips morning at North Shore Park on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019 in St. Petersburg.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement