Housing Trust Grows Florida Footprint

The company has closed $20 million in financing and broken ground on one of five communities currently under construction in the Sunshine State.
A rendering of Park at Wellington in Holiday, Fla.

A rendering of Park at Wellington in Holiday, Fla.

Pasco County, Fla.–With an already strong portfolio of affordable housing communities in the Sunshine State, developer Housing Trust Group (HTG) has closed $19.5 million in financing and broken ground on another project in Florida.

The developer has begun construction on the initial phase of Park at Wellington, a $37.9 million affordable housing community in Pasco County, about 30 miles north of Tampa. Park at Wellington is one of five projects currently under construction for HTG.

The company secured financing for the first phase of the project through several sources: $16 million in  Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Equity from Indianapolis-based City Real Estate Advisors; and a $15.5 million construction loan from Cleveland-based KeyBank, which will convert to a $3.5 million permanent loan upon the project’s completion.

To get the project off the ground, HTG faced the usual challenges, “from site selection and procurement, to financing and underwriting,” Matthew Rieger, president & CEO of HTG, told MHN. But Rieger said the biggest challenge “unique to Park at Wellington was (that) a competing developer challenged Florida Housing’s decision to award (LIHTC) to HTG for Park at Wellington. HTG intervened on behalf of Florida Housing and ultimately prevailed in the litigation.”

The first phase will bring 110 units, which are slated to open in late 2017. The apartments will be reserved for those earning at or below 40 to 60 percent area median income (AMI), with rents ranging from $367 to $783 per month. Construction on the second phase is expected to begin in November 2016 and deliver units near the middle of 2017, Rieger told MHN. The second phase will be a mid-rise, four-story building and provide units for seniors and larger, three-bedroom units for families.

HTG’s five affordable housing communities currently under construction in Florida include: Valencia Grove in Eustis; Freedom Gardens in Brooksville; Wagner Creek in Miami and Courtside Family Apartments in Miami (a joint venture with Alonzo Mourning, the retired basketball star). The company is aiming to provide much-needed affordable housing in Pasco County, which is facing soaring apartment rents, Rieger said.

“Park at Wellington aims to ease the burden on working families by providing modern, affordable housing in a safe, friendly neighborhood environment,” he said.

“As with all HTG properties, we expect to be fully leased as soon as we are ready to occupy,” he added.

Park at Wellington is located in the city of Holiday at 4369 Sunray Drive. The mid-rise, garden-style community will include 18 one-bedroom/one-bath units; 62 two-bedroom/two-bath units; and 30 three-bedroom/ three-bath units. Residences will range in size from 676 to 1379 square feet. Ninety-eight of the units will be set aside for residents earning at or below 60 percent of area median income, while 12 will be for tenants at or below 40 percent AMI.

Amenities will include a clubhouse with a cyber cafe, pool, exercise room, after-school care, laundry facility, offices and maintenance area. There will also be an on-site playground, dog park and walking path surrounding a central lake with seating areas. Nearby, residents will have access to a Publix grocery store, elementary school and other apartment communities.

The rest of the project team includes architect Fugleberg Koch, PLLC; civil engineer High Point Engineering Inc.; and general contractor HTG Hennessey LLC.

Beyond Florida, HTG has two market-rate communities under construction in other states, including one in Mesa, Ariz. Rieger said the company is currently looking to expand its affordable housing presence to several other states.