A company led by former Florida State Sen. George L. Stuart, Jr. just sold a senior affordable housing complex in northern Orange County for about $5.8 million.
The 129-unit College Park Towers community provides low-income housing for individuals 62 years of age and older, or disabled individuals that are over 18 years of age.
Built in 1981, the affordability protections that have kept rents low for tenants may be at risk of expiring, if not already. However, under its new ownership the complex will likely stay affordable.
Stuart is the brother of Orlando District 3 City Commissioner Robert F. Stuart, who served as the co-chair of the Mayor’s Working Committee on Homelessness and on the task force for Orange County’s Council on Aging prior to entering public office.
The buying entity for the deal, which breaks down to about $44,860 per unit, is tied to Tennessee-based affordable housing developer Housing Preservation Inc. The company is known for permanently preserving affordable housing developments.
Along with snapping up affordable housing complexes, HPI also rehabilitates the communities — a likely scenario for College Park Towers.
This would be the company’s first affordable housing development in Orange County, according to its website. Calls and emails directed through its website were not returned.
Preservation investments may be praised by non-profits and political groups that advocate for affordable housing in Central Florida, especially at a time when real estate values in cities like Apopka, Orlando and Winter Park continue to rise.
But it’s often more lucrative to finish off restrictions and collect higher rents, and in many cases that has already happened.
For one, the former Osprey Landing apartment community in Winter Garden — once operating under restrictions set in place by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development housing program — is now demanding much higher rents under its new ownership, Slate West Eleven LLC, which is an affiliate of Massachusetts-based Aspen Square Management.
As reported by the Orlando Sentinel, its previous owner may have received illegal approval by the USDA to pay off the loans early, thus paving the way for the property to be sold for $7.15 million in 2018. Three loans from the USDA program financed the construction of the 109-unit complex starting in 1979. Those loans were due to be paid off in 2029, 2030 and 2044.
A lawsuit by affected tenants has been filed against the USDA and the owning entity claiming that federal law requires the USDA housing officials to protect the low-income renters from steep rent hikes and evictions.
Last year, GrowthSpotter reported plans by Insula Companies to invest millions renovating a former affordable rental community in Kissimmee that had lost its rent restrictions. The 320-unit complex that was completed in 1999 utilizing Low Income Housing Tax Credits. Insula paid $49 million acquiring the property last year.
College Park Towers sits on about 2.7 acres of land just north of Lake Fairview. The investment vehicle led by Stuart paid $115,700 for the property 1980.
Housing Preservation Inc. has properties in Winter Haven, Tampa and Atlanta, among other cities in the United States. Its portfolio consists of communities from a variety of HUD programs, from Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly, to Section 236, M2M, PRAC, HUD-insured loans, and Project Based Section 8 Rental Assistance.