The city program awarded lots to developers who agreed to build affordable housing for local residents.
The first of 17 homes that are part of a Tampa program to build more affordable housing has been completed and is already sold.
The home, on Idell Drive in the Sulphur Springs neighborhood, just south of Waters Avenue, was officially unveiled Monday, June 20, in a short, driveway ceremony that brought out city officials, residents and TV cameras.
The reason for the pomp and circumstance is the home is part of a larger effort by the city to create housing opportunities for those who are finding it increasingly harder to find a home in Tampa, a cohort that seems to be growing by the day.
“As we all know, housing is a crisis — the availability, the affordability for workforce housing on all levels,” says Tampa Mayor Jane Castor. “For every apartment that comes up for rent in Tampa, there are over 20 people looking at that apartment. It’s something that we have to approach from all angles and we’re doing that.”
Castor’s stated goal is to help 10,000 affordable homes built by 2027.
This particular angle is a partnership between the city and local developers that began about a year ago. That’s when Tampa awarded 15 vacant, city-owned lots to developers chosen through a lottery with an agreement that affordable homes would be built. Two of the lots were big enough to split so a total of 17 houses will be built by 11 developers.
The project is called the infill housing program.
As big piece of the program is that construction is fast-tracked, with Tampa’s Department of Development and Growth Management helping expedite permits and working with the developers to “navigate the development process as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
Castor says how the infill program is set up makes it looks easy to put the homes up, “but it’s a little more difficult and a little more nuanced than it sounds.” Among the work needed to prepare for construction was getting the lots cleared and making sure utilities are available. The city also made $75,000 available to the developers if they needed help buying supplies.
In all, it took 90 days to get the permitting and to clear the lots.
To qualify for the homes, buyers need to fall within 80% of the area median income — $65,700 for a family of four.
The just-completed home on Idell Drive was listed at $300,000, but developer Randy Randolph of RL Builders says the price was reduced to $280,000 to accommodate the buyer, Velina Glass.
As for the house itself, it’s 1,250 square feet with three bedrooms, two baths and a two-car garage. It has vinyl plank flooring throughout, stainless steel appliances and brush nickel hardware along with quartz countertops and hurricane-rated windows.
Randolph says his goal when building the home was for it to look like a nicer home in any city neighborhood. That’s because he wanted whoever moved in to feel as if they were living in the best home possible or for anyone driving by not to see it as a cheaply constructed house.
“We put all that we could in it,” Randolph says. “Everything that you see in this house, I promise you, I can take you to a Tampa Heights house, I can take you to an Ybor City house I’m building, and you’ll see the exact same things.
“I wanted to provide a custom affordable home.”