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No depression in the local affordable housing market
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Feb 25, 2010 - 9:36:05 PM


 By MELODY JAMESON
mj@observernews.net

Ruskin — Recession reluctant, major league developers may be sitting on their hands and Ty Pennington’s televised Extreme Makeover team may be scaling back the give-away homes, but here affordable housing development is going strong.
Three more phases of built-out Bayou Pass I and II, which straddles 14th Avenue between 24th and 21st Streets, now are taking shape, according to Earl Pfeiffer, executive director of Florida Home Partnership, a non-profit developer assisting first-time home buyers.


Basic infrastructure for Bayou Pass III, located on the north side of 14th Avenue between 18th and 21st Streets is 99 percent completed, Pfeiffer said this week. And prospective homeowners interested in their first home purchase there will begin the application process next week, Pfeiffer noted. BP III is eventually to encompass 166 dwellings.

Then, on March 23, representatives of Florida Home Partnership and its development partner, Hillsborough County’s affordable housing office, will ask county commissioners to approve minor changes to a 2005 rezoning approved for about 90 acres on the south side of 14th Avenue between 6th and 12th Streets. The changes will reduce the density on the acreage and allow for relocation of an internal park, said Isabelle Albert, a senior planner in the county’s Planning and Growth Management Department. Given BOCC approval of the adjustments, the site is to become Bayou Pass IV and V.

The 90 acres initially were approved for residential development about five years ago when KB Homes was interested in building 356 single family dwellings on the property, Pfeiffer noted. However, the builder, stung by a buyer-shy recession following the sub-prime housing market collapse, drew back from the project as many other builders did from their once-planned developments.

Florida Home Partnership, on the other hand, faced increased demand for its type of self-help housing in 2009, up by 20 percent, Pfeiffer said. Consequently, the acreage a few blocks west of the first Bayou Pass with residential rezoning approval in place appealed to the developer as it continues toward build out of its Hidden Creek community in the Wimauma area and with work in similar community in Pasco County.

Initial concepts for Bayou Pass IV and V call for a total of 303 single family homes on more equally sized lots, two parks, a large clubhouse with meetings rooms and pool, plus four entrances/exits, Pfeiffer said.

The new sections will share several characteristics with the original Bayou Pass in terms of appearances, he added. BP III, IV and V will be predominately one-story homes with varied front elevations and painted in soft tropical or earth tones, although “we still have a couple of two-story designs available,” he noted.

But, new sections will feature some differences, Pfeiffer said. BP III, for instance, will have a larger pool with cabana and a retention pond in BP IV and V is slated to get some islands for landscape interest. Then, “ we’re thinking about adding weight lifting to the clubhouse activities menu which could involve an on-site activities director,” he added. New clubhouses will duplicate the “Old Florida look” incorporated in the first such Bayou Pass facility, Pfeiffer noted, “but we’re going to the next level.”

The Florida Home Partnership affordable housing program for first-time buyers is underwritten by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through its housing assistance division. Approved buyers dedicate some of their own labor to building their homes and can obtain a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. Homes in the new sections will range between $129,000 and $139,000, Pfeiffer said. Each development has its own homeowners’ association.

The customary Homebuyers’ Forum for those who may be interested in making their first home purchase in Bayou Pass III is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., Thursday, March 4. Applications will be available at that time and reservations to attend may be made by calling 813-672-7889.
© 2010 Melody Jameson

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