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Gainesville city commissioners approve affordable housing development in East Gainesville

Published: Dec. 3, 2020 at 6:48 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Hailing from South Florida, an affordable housing developer put thousands of dollars on the table for a project in a North Central Florida city.

Most Gainesville city commissioners agreed with the developer’s offer to buy unused city land in East Gainesville for the affordable housing project discussed in the city meeting.

One city commission couldn’t agree to the developer’s terms.

In the meeting, it was Commissioner Gigi Simmons who said she’s not comfortable with the terms that the developer placed forward because of the tax credit they need to purchase the land.

According to agenda documents, the property in East Gainesville is unused at 612 Southeast 21st Street and the developer, Housing Trust Group LLC, is offering to buy the land for $840,000. The land is privately appraised at just $179,000.

Simmons says her hesitation stems from the opportunity for a developer who doesn’t need a tax credit and the chance for them to take advantage of the East Gainesville community.

“So we would lose a bigger deal potentially because we have committed to something that I guess you all are going to commit to. You’re going to commit to a developer who cannot develop without the tax credits. I wouldn’t have any issue if he wanted to develop on that parcel without the tax credit,” said Simmons.

The vote turned out 6 to 1 with Simmons in dissent.

“I don’t like this approach because it’s in the letter of intent or the contract that they can get a tax credit,” added Simmons.

Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos presented the motion to approve the purchase with the condition that the developer work with minority and women-owned businesses throughout the project.

“Density is one of the biggest things to get more retail and other grocery stores and other things in East Gainesville and we need beds,” added Hayes-Santos. “I 100% agree with you Commissioner Simmons on the concentration of affordable housing but we have a project here that someone wants to develop and put beds, create some beds and create affordable housing.”

With approval from commissioners, the developer plans for a 96-unit affordable housing project, but must report what kind of minority and women-owned contractors they’re working with to start the project.

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