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Sarasota begins approval process for big public housing project

Written by on Friday, January 26, 2024

Amaryllis Park Phase 3 will produce disruption for existing tenants, trees.

By Ramon Lopez

Original Air Date: Jan. 24, 2024

Host: The Sarasota Housing Authority presented to City of Sarasota planners what would be the biggest public housing project in years. There are many questions surrounding the Amaryllis Park Phase 3 project, such as what happens to the tenants of current buildings that will be torn down, and what about the more than 100 trees that will be cut. For now, WSLR reporter Ramon Lopez gives you what the Housing Authority presented to the planners.

Ramon Lopez: It’s been slow going for development of the triple-phase affordable housing development known as Amaryllis Park Place. In 2022, Amaryllis Park Place Phase One, an 84-unit elderly community in Sarasota’s Newtown neighborhood opened. It marked the Sarasota Housing Authority’s first development in 45 years for cash-strapped senior citizens. SHA’s role is to provide senior-focused affordable housing to Sarasotans … but also supportive services that lead toward self-sufficiency. It relies on a federal low-income housing tax credit program that provides tax credits to developers of rent-restricted, affordable housing.

Located at 2012 North Orange Avenue, Amaryllis Park Place Phase One is income-restricted subsidized housing for seniors 62 and over, providing one or two-bedroom units near downtown Sarasota for monthly rents of between 788 dollars and 942 dollars.  Rents at Amaryllis Park Place compare to a countywide median overall rent of 2000 dollars. Half of the 84 total units there are rented to residents making no more than 60% of the average median income. The other half will go to those who make less than 50 percent of the AMI.

Built at a cost of 22 million dollars, Amaryllis Park Place Phase One replaced a subsidized 60-unit housing project built over 80 years ago on 14 acres and in disrepair. Called Newtown Heights, it was one of the first segregated housing developments in Sarasota. The Sarasota Housing Authority completed construction on Amaryllis Park Place Phase One in 2022 … and the community is fully leased.

Amaryllis Park Place Phase Two remains under construction. Amaryllis Park Place Phase Three went before the Sarasota Development Review Committee last week. It was clear at the meeting that there’s more work to do before the DRC signs off on the third phase of the major low-income housing project for Sarasota. Amaryllis Park Phase Three involves 144 residential units in four three-story buildings. Sixty-four existing residences will be razed to make room for them. The property is located south of Amaryllis Park Phase Two, which fronts on 21st Street. The proposed Phase 3 of the redevelopment project covers nearly seven acres. All of the units will be affordable and managed by the SHA. Vehicle access to the new buildings will be from 21st Street. Joel Freedman of Freedman Consulting provided a progress report to the various DRC members on the proposed construction project.

Joel Freedman: What we’re doing is finishing out the remainder of the property here. There’s currently 64 units on site and we’re proposing 144 new units and three story buildings, a little rec center … I would want to point out that this is a complex thing with funding and all that with affordable housing. So, the rec center and this building maybe end at a separate phase, if you will, but we want to get it approved now. So that if we think they’re going to get the funding, but just in case we don’t, it may not happen at the same time.

RL:  The devil is in the detail. It’s unclear where the people in the 64 existing residences will move to. And there’s issues regarding tree protection that the SHA still must deal with.

This is Ramon Lopez for WSLR News


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