TAMPA — BluePearl Specialty & Emergency Pet Hospital co-founder Darryl Shaw has confirmed he is the buyer of Tampa Park Apartments, a low-cost housing complex considered a vital real estate asset to link Ybor City to downtown Tampa and Channelside.
Shaw has a contract to close on 12 of the property’s roughly 18 acres for an undisclosed price and plans to redevelop it. The remainder of the property will continue to be owned by a non-profit group headed by Florida Sentinel Bulletin newspaper publisher S. Kay Andrews.
Regardless of where they live on the property, all Tampa Park tenants have until Nov. 1 to move out. Roughly 270 of the complex’s 370 apartments are still occupied. It is is one of the last places where low-income families, seniors and people on disability benefits can afford to live close to downtown.
With that in mind, Shaw plans to provide about $800,000 in relocation assistance. That includes paying $1,500 to each household to cover application fees and security deposits required by new landlords.
Shaw also is paying for a professional mover and has hired a property management firm to help residents find a new home. He is partnering with Andrews to provide the same relocation benefits to tenants who live on the portion of the property she is keeping. He would not comment on the level of her contribution.
“It was the right thing to do," Shaw said. “If you’re earning $2,000 a month here in the U.S., it’s hard to make that transition.”
Shaw is buying sections of the property that abut the Nick Nuccio Parkway and said he plans new residential buildings that could include affordable and workforce housing. 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.
The six parcels that make up the complex are valued at $12.1 million by the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser’s Office.
It’s unclear what Andrews plans to do with the remainder of the property. She did not return a call and a text message seeking comment.
In a recent article in her newspaper, Andrews said it became 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.
The housing has reached the end of its lifespan, Shaw said. Along with Robles Park, the complex is one of the last military barracks-style housing left in Tampa. Inspectors found cockroaches, broken or cracked windows, damaged stoves and refrigerators, and exposed wiring in the 1960s-era homes.
Most of the residents are working families, attracted by rents as low as $600 a month for a one-bedroom apartment and $900 for three bedrooms. The average one-bedroom apartment in Tampa rents for $1,037, according to ApartmentList.com.
A survey of residents found that the average monthly income of households is about $2,000, said Tori Boyd, relocation manager with Signature Property Services, the firm hired to handle the relocation.
About 33 families in the complex still live in federally subsidized housing. The Tampa Housing Authority has said it will give them Section 8 vouchers to find new housing.
And Boyd said she is working to find housing designated for low-income residents for about 40 seniors who live on the property.
The relocation payment is being paid in two installments, with $500 up front to help with application fees and the cost of visiting apartment complexes. Once a family finds a place, they receive the balance, Boyd said. Almost 80 families have been paid their first installment, Boyd said, and 19 families have received the full payment.
The assistance is similar to that paid by the Tampa Housing Authority to residents of North Boulevard Homes, a Tampa public housing complex that was razed to make way for the West River project. The Authority was required by federal law to provide the assistance, because the homes were built with tax dollars. That law does not apply to Tampa Park, since it’s privately owned.
“Efforts like that are certainly needed if you want to ensure residents have the best opportunities and complete their moves successfully,” said Leroy Moore, the Authority’s chief operating officer. “I applaud that kind of compassionate business approach.”
But even with the assistance, some residents are worried they won’t find somewhere equally affordable and that it may be difficult to afford to move during a pandemic.
A longshoreman and landscaper, Jaquine Flowers, 30 said he’s been out of work for two months.
The money being offered isn’t enough, he said, and he would rather receive a Section 8 voucher.
Rudine Harrell, 77, moved to Tampa Park in 1984. A former laboratory technician for the county health department, she now is retired. She said she likes being close to the train and bus station. Her son and daughter pay her rent, she said.
She doesn’t want to leave the friends she has made over the years.
“I really don’t want to move,” she said.
But some residents said they are happy to leave.
Juan Carlos Monsalve, 50, rents a three-bedroom apartment with his girlfriend and her child. He’s fed up with people dumping trash around the complex, he said. A driver for both the Uber and Lyft rideshare firms, he said he may not ask for the relocation assistance.
“I’m willing to pay more to go to a better place,” he said.
Tampa Park once was touted by Mayor Bob Buckhorn as a possible site for a new Tampa Bay Rays baseball stadium. Its purchase represents another Ybor property venture for Shaw. In conjunction with business partners, he has spent more than $60 million buying roughly 150 parcels of land in and around the historic district. That includes the 7.6-acre GasWorx property across Nick Nuccio Parkway from the housing complex.