Sarasota-based Beneficial Communities was officially given the green light this week to proceed with a tax-credit attempt to build a grocery store and an affordable housing complex on the site of the previously failed attempt on the corner of 13th Avenue West and First Street.
Earlier this month, Beneficial presented their proposal to the city council at a workshop, saying the company would pursue an attempt through the lottery-based Florida Housing Finance Corporation tax-credit application process. Beneficial is changing course on the latest approved proposal.
Beneficial is opting not to enter an application in the lottery-based process, but instead apply through a FHFC tax-credit process that relies solely on the merits of the submission, but is even more competitive. Bradenton has another affordable housing project in this cycle with the hopeful redevelopment of the 1950s era Love Apartments in east Bradenton.
They will be competing against one another when submissions are due on March 23. City administrator Carl Callahan said staff questioned whether it was a good idea to have competing projects.
“It’s not a big deal to us,” said Callahan. “We don’t want to choose what city property may get selected. We look at it as may the best man win and if one wins, we’ll have new affordable housing either way so it’s a win-win.”
Callahan said the primary concern on the grocery store site that now features a 90-unit affordable housing complex proposal, is that the grocery aspect isn’t being thrown to the wayside since Beneficial’s specialty is housing.
Beneficial Developer Ken Bowron Jr. said the grocery store remains the primary emphasis of the project. This week’s approval gives Beneficial the right to move forward with the application and, if successful, all further approvals would have to come back before the council.
The council has been concerned about tying up the property for any length of time given its history of empty promises and ultimate failure from the prior developer. Bowron said the decision to enter the different process ultimately shortens the commitment. Callahan said the city will learn the fate of both projects being submitted some time in April.