City Commissioners give affordable housing projects more flexibility, with 450 units in the works

The City of Tallahassee Commission voted to issue development waivers for certain affordable housing projects Wednesday night.
Published: Apr. 22, 2021 at 10:33 AM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The City of Tallahassee Commission voted to issue development waivers for certain housing projects Wednesday night, making it easier to create affordable housing.

About 450 new affordable housing units will be coming to Tallahassee, with the Tallahassee Lenders Consortium prepared to build new homes, and a private developer set to adapt the empty office buildings on Winewood Boulevard.

City Commissioner Curtis Richardson said affordable housing is a major priority for the current commission.

“Whereas there may be ordinances or policies that require only a certain type of development on a piece of property, we’re waving those requirements now, so we can get more bang for our buck, if you will,” said Richardson.

Richardson said he hopes the new policy can help more residents realize the American Dream.

“We’re not only looking at single-family detached, but duplexes, some multi-family type developments, all to address the issue of affordability of housing,” said Richardson.

City Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox told City staff she’s excited about their creativity. A state law passed last year gave local governments more flexibility to approve certain units.

“One of the things that we’ve talked about in dealing with our homelessness situation is that we don’t have enough units. And here’s a way to get some additional units,” said Williams-Cox.

The Tallahassee Lenders Consortium runs the Community Land Trust, which was created by the City in March 2020. The group is preparing to build duplexes on at least three vacant lots: 317 Ridge Road, 407 Shoreline Drive, and 919 Griffin Street.

“It is blending in with the nearby properties but fits the scale and the form of what could happen in any particular zone,” said Director of Housing and Community Resilience Abena Ojetayo, explaining the designs.

The CLT asked for waivers on use, density, lot width and lot size, which were granted by the commission.

In addition to the new CLT properties, the vacant office buildings off of Blair Stone Road could soon become available to rent as studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments.

Staff says adaptive reuse, or converting vacant commercial properties into rental units, is environmentally friendly and fiscally responsible.

“We set a target to facilitate the production of new units, but also converting vacant units,” said Ojetayo.

That property would have 440 units, replacing five office buildings at 1317 Winewood Boulevard.

The commission voted to bring back a draft ordinance that could create a new structure for affordable housing projects as they come forward.

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