Public Housing Redevelopment in Sarasota, Fla. Leases First Batch of Units

By Anuradha Kher, Online News EditorMarlton, N.J. –The first phase of Janie’s Garden, a new, mixed-income multifamily community part of the Newtown Redevelopment plan in Sarasota, Fla. recently opened nine of its 86 units.The project is developed by the Sarasota Housing Authority and Michaels Development Co., and managed by Interstate Realty Management. Both Michaels Development Co. and Interstate Realty Management are affiliates of the Michaels Organization.  The 86-unit, garden-style community, featuring both apartments and townhomes, is the first of the Sarasota Housing Authority’s multi-phase, multi-million dollar redevelopment of the former Janie Poe public housing project. The Janie Poe project had gained notoriety over the past three decades for its dilapidated conditions and was the subject of the 2004 documentary Condemned, by Sarasota filmmaker Diane Mason.   “We are so pleased to be a part of the rebirth of the Newtown neighborhood,” Milton Pratt, Jr. senior vice president of Michaels Development Co., tells MHN. “This project is a model for mixed-income new urbanism development.” The project will be built in three phases by 2011 and will feature a total of 225 units, a clubhouse, fitness center, business center, a residents’ lounge, and green space adorned with picnic pavilions and bicycle racks. Retail space for neighborhood businesses will be available in the second phase of the project. “One third of the units will be market-rate, a third will be public housing, and the rest will be tax credit,” says Pratt. Janie’s Garden features one- to four-bedroom units with rents starting at $775 for a one-bedroom, market-rate, unit. Three of the 10 families scheduled to move into the first phase are former residents of the Janie Poe project. Former residents have been given first preference at new apartments in Janie’s Garden as a way to ensure minimum displacement for their families by the redevelopment efforts.  The revitalization of the Newtown neighborhood, undertaken as a public-private joint venture between the Sarasota Housing Authority, Michaels Development Co., and a variety of local stakeholders, benefited from federal housing subsidies, including Low Income Housing Tax Credits as well as significant funding from the City of Sarasota, Sarasota County and the state of Florida. Among the local partners involved in the project were Carlson Studio Architecture and King Engineering of Sarasota and Bank of Commerce of Florida as a participating construction lender.  The Newtown Redevelopment plan includes rebuilding of two other public housing projects known as The Court and Bertha Mitchell public housing. William Russell, executive director of the Sarasota Housing Authority, says, “When all the other phases are completed in this $150 million dollar revitalization effort, Newtown will be home to more than 800 units of market-rate, public and affordable housing, as well as a facility for the elderly, and retail space.”