Orlando low-income apts site under contract, $15M in renovations planned

Bob Moser
GrowthSpotter

A Cleveland-based manager of the 256-unit Windsor Cove apartments in west Orlando has the property under contract, and is planning a $15 million redevelopment of the low-income housing community.

Millenia Housing Companies took over management of the property in March as part of a portfolio of Section-8 apartment complexes in Florida owned by Tennessee-based religious nonprofit Global Ministries Foundation, with an eye on acquiring each of them.

Millenia Housing now anticipates closing on the Florida portfolio in late First Quarter 2018 with plans to renovate each completely, public affairs manager Jeff Crossman told GrowthSpotter on Friday. 

Located at 1488 Mercy Dr., the 16.85-acre parcel has a 256 apartments across 29 one- and two-story buildings that date to 1973, and has been owned since 2012 by an affiliate of Global Ministries Foundation.

Millenia Housing has filed an Administrative Master Plan with the city of Orlando to build a new community building with fitness center and computer lab, and new amenities at the apartment complex that would include a basketball court, splash pad, laundry building, picnic pavilion and more, along with complete interior and exterior renovation of all the apartments.

The property would be renamed "Jernigan Gardens" and is estimated on the application as a $15 million project. The existing leasing office and police substation would also be demolished.

However, the entire deal is now in limbo because of the Republican-backed tax plan passed Thursday by the U.S. House of Representatives.

Financing for Millenia Housing's acquisition and renovation plans rely on private activity bonds that the GOP's House tax bill has eliminated, Crossman said. 

"Elimination of this 4 percent tax credit program represents about 30 percent of the project's financing, and that's not something easily replaced," he added. "We're hopeful, because the Senate version of the bill retains this program." 

The publicly subsidized affordable housing complex of Windsor Cove has been the subject of many crime calls and code enforcement violations in recent years, before and after Global Ministries took ownership.

Local police once referred to it as "10 acres of hell," and in June 2016 U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio visited the property and called Global Ministries "slumlords," according to an Orlando Sentinel report at the time. 

Global Ministries has received more than $4.7 million in federal susidies for Windsor Cove between 2012 and 2016, per the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Rubio called last year for federal investigations into the nonprofit owner.

Florida Engineering Group is civil engineer on Millenia's recent Master Plan application, and Ohio-based Dimit Architects contributed design.

A block north of this property, Jacksonville-based Ability Housing is also redeveloping three boarded up apartment complexes at 1740, 1742 and 1770 Mercy Drive into 166 new units for limited income families and homeless individuals. 

Abatement and demolition of those buildings is underway, and Ability Housing expects to break ground on new construction in late First Quarter 2018, said Michelle Tappouni, property development director.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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