Midtown Lofts

Lakeland secured $127 million in private investment for affordable and workforce housing projects by leveraging $5.464 million in funding and incentives from city, state and federal sources for 581 multi-family units that have been built or are currently under construction.

On the books for 2022 are 160 more affordable housing units with a pending deal for a 180-unit complex being negotiated and another 202 dwellings possible in two planned but unfunded workforce housing projects.

The roundup of the city’s affordable housing program was provided by Lakeland Planning and Housing Director Teresa Maio during the Lakeland City Commission’s two-day strategic planning session last week.

In 2020, the commission approved an initiative to provide 500 new affordable housing units by 2023. In March 2021, several city commissioners said they were prepared to increase the city’s funding for affordable housing from $500,000 to $750,000 for the current fiscal year when it declared affordable housing the city’s top budget priority for 2022.

The city has achieved that goal a year early with 581 units available or coming online, Maio said, and interest among developers increasing.

The $5.464 million the city “spent” in incentivizing the development included $2 million in making land in its infill program available, she said, and about $1.5 million in impact fee waivers, $900,000 in state/federal funds, $500,000 in city general funds and the remainder in Community Redevelopment Agency contributions.

Midtown Lofts
Midtown Lofts on Parker Street was dedicated last April.

Seven multi-family projects that received affordable housing subsidies are completed or under construction, she said, including Banyan Development Group’s $22.4 million 139-unit Banyan Reserve senior apartment complex off Providence Road that the city provided $673,177 in enticements for. The others:

  • Parker Pointe: 88 units on Bella Vista Street with 61 at 60% or below 2020 Lakeland area median income of $41,200 or about $25,000 annually for a single person. Private investment: $21.278 million. City contribution: $1.287 million. 
  • Swan Landing: 88 units on Griffin Road with 69 at 50% or below median income. Private investment: $21 million. City contribution: $460,000,
  • Swan Lake Village: 84 units on Griffin Road all at 60% or below median income. Private $20.38 million/$807,000 city.
  • Midtown Lofts: 80 units on Parker Street with 72 at 60% or below median income. Private $16.227 million/$800,000 city.
  • Twin Lakes II: 68 units on Lake Beulah Drive all  at 60% or below. $21.643 million/$607,638.
  • Vermont Place: 16 units on Vermont Avenue all at 30% or below. $922,479/$290,000. 

Maio said set for 2022 is Griffin Lofts, a $20.74 million, 76 unit-complex on Griffin Road that will offer 28 units at 80% or below; 36 at 50% and 12 at 30%; and Twin Lakes III, an 84-unit project on Lake Beulah Drive with 75 units at 60% and nine at 50%.

Another 202 affordable housing units are planned for the proposed 102-unit Killian Crossing on Westgate Avenue and 100-unit  Arbor Manor I project on Pipkin Creek Road.

Maio said she met a developer Wednesday to discuss an Olive Street property where the prospective applicant is considering a 180-unit workforce housing project using Florida Housing Finance Corp. funding.

Most of the properties being developed for workforce housing are city-owned lots available through its infill program, she said.

The city has 48 lots available under the program and 17 have been secured by builders in executed contracts, she said, noting the program is perhaps becoming too successful and suggesting it be streamlined.

Rather than engage with “numerous builders, it may be more efficient to offer it to a single developer or a couple of developers rather than handful of developers,” she said.

Commissioner Mike Musick disagreed. 

’’I don’t know if I’d like it to go to just one developer because we have so many good developers who would want a piece of that pie,” he said.

Musick said with real estate prices and demand so high, the city should sell off the lots. Until then, he said, he doesn’t see the city’s in-fill program “as an asset” until all are sold.

“The city issued more than 700 building permits last year. Why are we releasing these so slowly?” he asked before questioning the emphasis on multifamily projects. 

“I’m more interested in single family than multifamily,” he said. “Those of us who are homeowners, we have seen the equity in homes rise. I don’t want to look at constantly building multifamily, where we are foregoing home ownership.”

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