ST. PETERSBURG, September 17, 2020- In the Skyway Marina District of St. Petersburg, Blue Sky Communities broke ground on its latest urban revitalization development project Wednesday. SkyWay Lofts, located on US 19, will replace an old motel with 65 apartment homes for families earing less than 80% of Area Median Income.
This is the first new Workforce Housing development for the resurgent Skyway Marina District, as three major luxury residential projects are already underway. The District Plan was created in 2014 by City of St. Petersburg leaders. Blue Sky was able to take advantage of a density bonus program put in place at that time to encourage Workforce Housing, and the city chipped in with $90,000 of City funds to support the project.
The groundbreaking, which started at 10am, was hosted by Scott Macdonald, Blue Sky Partner, and Chairperson of St. Petersburg’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee. Local and State Leaders spoke in support of the project, including St Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, St. Petersburg City Councilmember Deborah Figgs-Sanders, Pinellas County Commissioner Kenneth Welch, Florida Representative Jennifer Webb, and Florida State Senator Darryl Rouson.
SkyWay Lofts will be 65 apartments on just over 1 acre, situated on the main street in the District, at 3900-34th Street South (US 19). The housing complex will have a mix of 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom apartments. Rents are on a sliding scale, depending on household income, anticipated to range from $1,160 to $315 per month. Work is expected to be completed by fall 2021.
It was a team effort to fund the project. Parent company, Blue Sky Communities was awarded funding from Florida Housing Finance Corporation (9% Housing Credits). The highly competitive 9% Housing Credits were especially targeted to areas such as this that are not traditional areas of Workforce Housing.
According to Kevin Tatreau at FHFC, “It is truly gratifying to see our policies successfully bring affordable housing to rapidly developing areas like Skyway Marina District. Many hardworking families cannot afford the rents at the new properties, so a project like SkyWay Lofts ensures that there will always be home for them even in this emerging neighborhood.”
Raymond James Tax Credit funds is purchasing the Housing Credits, resulting in an infusion of more than $13,000,000, into this $16,000,000 development. Raymond James Bank is the permanent lender. TIAA bank is providing construction financing.
CEO & President of Blue Sky Communities weighed in, “I always say that Blue Sky’s goal is to help local governments achieve their own goals in the area of Affordable Housing. In this case, not only do we help the City ensure diversity and vitality in a red-hot market, but we also help the State of Florida achieve their goals. The State wants to see Affordable Housing built in many types of neighborhoods, not just low-income areas. They created the concept of the Geographic Area of Opportunity to implement this policy. When we found this site in 2018, we knew it was a perfect fit both for what the City and the State wanted. The families that live here can walk to Walmart 2 blocks away and catch a bus right on 34th in front of their home. SkyWay Lofts will be a neighborhood asset for years to come.”
About Blue Sky Communities:
Blue Sky Communities, LLC is the 36th largest Affordable Housing Developer in the nation. Blue Sky has developed more than 1,300 units of affordable housing across Florida. Blue Sky has an additional 500 units under construction and 600 in the pipeline for 2020-21.
Founded in 2012, and based in Tampa, Florida, Blue Sky is also an advocacy leader. President Shawn Wilson is the immediate past Chair of the Coalition of Affordable Housing Providers of Florida; CFO Scott Macdonald is the Chair of the City of St. Petersburg Affordable Housing Advisory Committee.