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On a roll: Manatee County’s Affordable Housing Program

Written by on Saturday, November 4, 2023

Two new projects with hundreds of units are underway.

By Dania Hefley

Original Air Date: Nov. 3, 2023

Host: Affordable housing projects in Manatee County are multiplying, as the county’s four-year old Rapid

The Whitfield Preserve location

Response Team is in overdrive, simultaneously fast-tracking several apartment rental complexes with hundreds of units. WSLR News reporter Dania Hefley is following that program closely.

Dania Hefley: In the Manatee County land- use meeting on Thursday, the county commissioners gave their approval for a land-use restriction agreement for one affordable-housing project near the airport and approved a rezone for another north of Palmetto. This comes a few weeks after they green-lighted a workforce apartment complex in east Bradenton.

Under the land-use restriction agreement for the Whitfield Preserve, the property owner commits to developing and maintaining a multifamily rental housing project, with 192 apartments, all of them affordable.  They will be available to individuals or households falling within the 81% to 120% range of the Area Median Income.

These apartments, according to the agreement, are “fully equipped to serve as decent, safe, and sanitary living quarters, with the primary purpose of being available for rental to the general public”.

The Whitfield Preserve is planned on a long sliver of undeveloped land at 7255 12th Street East, backing into a commercial area and job center just north of the Sarasota-Manatee International Airport.

The motion to confirm this decision was passed very quickly and unanimously, with no public comment or comment from the board.

Kevin Van Ostenbridge: We have a verbal motion by Commissioner Rahn to approve consent, seconded by Commissioner Kruse. All in favor of passing consent say ‘Aye’.

Board: Aye.

KVO: All opposed? [Silence] Madam clerk, consent passes unanimously.

The Mitchell at Palmetto location

DH: During the meeting, the board also voted to approve a rezoning application for another affordable housing project.

The Mitchell at Palmetto is a 183- unit multi-family project. The triangular piece of land is wedged between Bayshore Road to the west, US 41 to the east, and Rock Payne Rd (89 St E) to the south. It is located not far from Port Manatee and private employers with hundreds of jobs.

The request for the project consists of four three-story buildings, one with 63 units, two with 42 units, and the last with 36 units. The property will also include garages, a pool, exercise stations, and a dog park.

The motion passed unanimously, without discussion.

KVO: We’ll entertain motions on item seven. We have a motion to approve item seven by commissioner Kruse, seconded by commissioner Rahn. Would anyone like to come forward and address the board on item number seven on today’s agenda? Would anyone from the public like to address the board on item seven? [Silence] Not seeing anyone, we’ll close public comment. There’s no one on the board for discussion. Motion to approve by Kruse seconded by Rahn. We can cast our votes at this time. And Madam clerk, item number seven passes unanimously by a vote of 6-0, with Commissioner Turner absent.

DH: Rowena Elliott, Affordable Housing Development Coordinator for Manatee County, was unavailable for comment at this time. On its website, Manatee County says, “The goal of the Affordable Housing Designation Program is to foster the construction of new mixed-income rental and homeownership development at an affordable rate. The number of dwelling units must be equal to or greater than 25% of the total number of units being constructed to take advantage of the incentives from the program.”

Manatee County offers various incentives to property developers. They include fast-tracking project permitting with the county’s Housing Rapid Response Team, deferral of county fees, and the opportunity to access funds from the Tree Protection Trust Fund for landscaping requirements.

Additional benefits encompass fee refunds, density bonuses, and more. Specifically, the Livable Manatee Incentive program for ownership promotes affordable housing units within mixed-income developments, scattered sites, and infill projects. Under this program, the county covers 100% of impact fees, which include education fees, and Facility Investment Fees (FIF) for designated affordable units. These fees cover essential areas like libraries, public safety, law enforcement, parks, schools, transportation, and administrative surcharges, along with potable water and wastewater FIF.

Both projects were approved within the initial 20 minutes of the meeting without any deliberation. As of now, they are in their preliminary planning stages. Stay tuned.

This has been Dania Hefley for WSLR News.


WSLR News aims to keep the local community informed with our 1/2 hour local news show, quarterly newspaper and social media feeds. The local news broadcast airs on Wednesdays and Fridays at 6pm.