BRADENTON -- BlueSky Communities, a developer with more than 20 years of experience building workforce rental housing, is seeking to develop a vacant lot near the corner of Ninth Street and Sixth Avenue East using federal tax credits.
BlueSky hopes to use the tax credits to pay for the majority of the estimated $17.5 million complex.
According to Shawn Wilson, president of BlueSky, the Duet Apartment complex is only in a conceptual design but will feature two, three-story buildings encompassing 4 acres of the 6-acre lot and come with all of the typical amenities such as a pool, fitness center, courtyard and playground.
The only difference between the proposed Duet complex and any standard complex is that because federal tax credits are being used, the rent prices are targeted for workers making between $10-$15 an hour, he said.
Expected starting rents for a one-bedroom apartment are $561 a month with a three-bedroom apartment starting at $779 a month.
Wilson said tenants would undergo criminal background checks and employment verification before being allowed to rent and must make less than 60 percent of the average median income in Manatee County. Wilson said he isn't sure of the county's median income. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median income in Manatee County as of 2012 is $47,910.
He said it is not a Section 8 housing unit, but qualified tenants with a Section 8 voucher would be allowed to rent.
"We try hard to get the best ten
ants possible," said Wilson. "We believe in high-quality construction with a strong curb appeal and believe we can beautify that corner."
Wilson said since the majority of the project would be funded through tax credits -- about $13.5 million worth -- his company can put more money into the construction itself, making the workforce rental complex stand up to the quality of any other complex.
To enhance curb appeal, proposed parking would be located internally, meaning residents would drive into the complex to park.
Wilson is currently working with city staff on the proposal and to study the city's form base codes before proceeding with an actual design. He also is seeking the necessary approvals from city boards to apply for the tax credits.
Vernon DeSear, chair of the Bradenton Downtown Development Authority, applauded the proposal, which he said is another step "in an area that is certainly getting a lot of attention and fits into the excitement of the community."
Show of support
Tim Polk, director of Planning and Community Development, said his department will issue a letter of support and also expressed excitement at increasing activity and interest from developers looking at Bradenton.
"If you go down memory lane five or six years ago, the DDA put together a (request for proposal) for that site to do a mixed residential component and didn't get any takers," said Polk. "Now we are seeing a proposal to do something for workforce housing, which is fantastic."
Polk said the project has several "bells and whistles" to meet before anything comes before the city council, "but we are giving a letter of support and support any type of funding needed to make the formal application for tax credits."
Polk said the lot is owned by a private party, but BlueSky is in negotiations to purchase it at an undisclosed price. Polk said the project fits into the city's master plan of providing more affordable housing in the downtown area to continue to attract a younger workforce into the city.
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter @urbanmark2014.