City of Sarasota, FL

04/15/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/15/2024 15:53

City of Sarasota moves to purchase land and build attainable workforce housing

Media Contact: Jan Thornburg, Communications General Manager | [email protected]

Sarasota, FL: In an unprecedented move to address the need for workforce attainable housing, the Sarasota City Commission unanimously approved a plan to purchase two parcels in downtown Sarasota to build two apartment buildings with nearly 200 rental units for workers who have been priced out of living in the city where they work.

In March 2023, the City Commission authorized City Manager Marlon Brown to identify and secure property for affordable housing. Ian Black Real Estate was engaged by the City and over the past year endeavored to assemble properties on First Street between Orange and Lemon avenues.

The City currently owns the surface parking lot located at 1530 First Street diagonally across from City Hall. Two adjacent properties, 1544 and 1590 First Street, will be purchased to be developed for attainable workforce housing units.

The development will offer workforce housing in downtown Sarasota one block from Main Street for approximately 400 individuals. A majority of the units will be limited to renters at 80-120% AMI (Area Median Income), allowing teachers, electricians, firefighters, journalists, hospitality employees and more the opportunity to live and work in Sarasota.

"This is a bold, courageous and visionary approach to addressing the severe lack of attainable housing for our workforce in Sarasota," said Mayor Liz Alpert. "I commend City Manager Brown for his vision and hard work along with staff and Ian Black and Steve Horn with Ian Black Real Estate. And, a heartfelt thank you to everyone in the community who understands the significant need for workforce housing and supports this initiative. It will be a game changer in the near future and for generations to come."

The purchase price for the properties is $7.4 million with the Barancik Foundation already committing $1.5 million toward acquiring the parcels. Fundraising support from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation is expected, with both enthusiastic about the initiative. The City Commission authorized funding partnership agreements with the three foundations to be drafted. The City Manager also was authorized to contact government agencies and non-profit organizations that may be interested in becoming a funding partner with the attainable workforce housing initiative.

The City of Sarasota will commit funds from its Affordable Housing Trust Fund and other monies to fill any funding gap.

"We understand that some may criticize government intervention in such matters, but waiting for the private sector to act hasn't yielded impactful results," said City Manager Marlon Brown. "Over the years, private developers have provided affordable units in dribs and drabs. Many qualified individuals are turning down jobs in Sarasota because they can't afford to live here. This initiative will help increase the attainable housing inventory for those individuals or renters who have been priced out."

The proposed development will use the City's new downtown affordable housing density bonus and the State of Florida Live Local Act for the initiative, which will include:

  • Two 12-story buildings with a total of ± 192 residential units
  • ± 15,100 square feet of ground floor commercial space
  • Parking garage with three levels and ± 280 spaces
  • 12 surface parking spaces
  • ± 7 on-street parking spaces

Ground floor commercial space in each building will be sold with proceeds paying down a revenue bond that will be issued for the estimated $70-80 million construction costs.

Maximum rent will be established to ensure the attainable workforce housing program is sustainable, self-funded and does not require an infusion of tax dollars. A private management company will manage and operate the rental property on behalf of the City of Sarasota.

Studio (540 square feet), one bedroom (720-800 square feet) and two bedroom (900-1,100 square feet) units will be available.

Rent will be based on family size and AMI, and will range from approximately $1,280 for one person at 80% AMI to $1,920 for an individual at 120% AMI.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development establishes AMI annually by region. Current AMI for an individual in the Sarasota region:

80% AMI: $51,200

  • Examples include: medical assistants, paramedics, HVAC technicians, electricians
  • Proposed maximum rent for one workforce person: $1,280 with utilities

100% AMI: $64,000

  • Examples include: firefighters, licensed practical nurses, police and sheriff patrol officers, elementary school teachers
  • Proposed maximum rent for one workforce person: $1,600 with utilities

120% AMI: $76,800

  • Examples include: special education teachers, respiratory therapists, web designers, power line installers/repairers
  • Proposed maximum rent for one workforce person: $1,920 with utilities

The Affordable Housing Advisory Committee would establish criteria for the lease of the units.

Due diligence for the purchase of the two parcels will begin immediately with the sales anticipated to be final before the end of July.

Construction on the attainable workforce housing buildings could begin by mid-to-late 2025 and units available for residents by 2027.

During its meeting, the City Commission approved ten actions related to the initiative:

  1. Directed the City Manager to proceed with the Attainable Workforce Housing Project as conceptually presented and return to the City Commission with further design concepts as discussed/directed by the City Commission for consideration.

  2. Approved the contract to purchase 1590 First Street for $5 million.

  3. Approved the contract to purchase 1544 First Street for $2.1 million.

  4. Directed the City Attorney to work with the Barancik Foundation, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation on a Funding Partnership/Ownership Agreement for the purchase of the properties at 1590 First Street, and 1544 First Street to be brought back for City Commission consideration. (This agreement can and amended to include other partners as needed)

  5. Directed the City Manager to proceed with drafting a Request for Proposals for a development team to manage, design and construct the Attainable Workforce Housing Project.

  6. Directed the City Manager to proceed with a Request for Proposals for an individual to be the advocate for and oversee the Attainable Workforce Housing Project on behalf of the City, from the design and permitting through the end of construction.

  7. Directed the City Manager to contact, share the project concept and work with other governmental entities, non-profits, and others who may be interested in becoming funding partners on the Attainable Workforce Housing Project.

  8. Directed the City Manager to work with the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee (AHAC) on requirements/criteria for the lease of the units.

  9. Directed the City Manager to proceed with drafting a Request for Proposals for management/operation of the Attainable Workforce Housing units.

  10. Considered allocating funding from our Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and if needed, the General Fund - Fund Balance, to make up the difference for the property acquisitions, including any fees and closing costs, and for other tasks related to this initiative.

Click here to review the Attainable Workforce Housing Action Initiative.


About the City of Sarasota: Distinguished by U.S. News and World Report as the No. 5 Best Place to Live in the U.S. and the top place in Florida, the City of Sarasota is a diverse and inclusive community located on Florida's Suncoast with 56,000 year-round residents, several internationally recognized cultural arts venues, stunning sunsets along Lido Beach and Major League spring training baseball with the Baltimore Orioles. Learn more about us at www.SarasotaFL.Gov