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Valencia Grove in Eustis features amenties, such as a clubhouse, playground, volleyball court, outdoor pool, dog park and car wash.
Valencia Grove in Eustis features amenties, such as a clubhouse, playground, volleyball court, outdoor pool, dog park and car wash. (HTG)

Housing Trust Group, one of the nation’s largest developers of affordable housing, will add a second phase and 110 more units to the Valencia Grove multifamily project in Eustis.

The second phase will be a 55-plus development to be built north of the existing 144-unit family phase, at the southeast corner of Dillard and Mt. Homer roads.

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The first phase, completed in January 2017, was a “screaming success,” said Matthew Rieger, president and chief executive of the Housing Trust Group. That complex was 100 percent leased upon opening.

“Given that we’ve had such success with Phase I, we had been talking to neighboring landowners about a Phase II for about three years now,” Rieger said. “Finally, we were able to get a second phase funded.”

The wooded area at upper left will soon become the second phase of the Valencia Grove apartments. It will serve the 55-plus market. At bottom along Huffstetler Drive is the completed first phase, which serves families.
The wooded area at upper left will soon become the second phase of the Valencia Grove apartments. It will serve the 55-plus market. At bottom along Huffstetler Drive is the completed first phase, which serves families. (Lake County Property Appraiser)

Housing Trust Group of Coconut Grove acquired the land from Prickett Partners of Eustis. The sale price was not available.

Providing affordable housing can be a tricky dance involving funding from the State Apartment Incentive Loan (SAIL) program, tax credits and incentives from the Florida Housing Finance Corporation. Money for affordable housing is often dependent on fickle lawmakers in Tallahassee who have differing outlooks on affordable housing.

“Developers have a hard time at how to crack the SAIL nut – how you can make a deal work,” said Rieger. “We were able to make the numbers work.”

He expects to break ground on Phase II in the first quarter of 2020 and open 12 to 14 months later. “Like Phase I, we expect it to lease out very quickly,” Rieger said. “The demand for affordable housing is tremendous, and it’s unmet.”

The apartments are offered to prospective tenants who earn 60 percent or less of an area’s median income, with some variability. That median was $49,734 in 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. At least one member of the household must be 55 or older.

The first phase of Valencia Grove opened in January 2017. It was immediately at full capacity.
The first phase of Valencia Grove opened in January 2017. It was immediately at full capacity. (HTG)

Rieger was unsure how much the units would rent for, but the Phase I family units ranged from $405 to $849 a month for one-, two- and three-bedroom units. The garden-style Phase II will feature a single, three-story building.

The existing complex includes a clubhouse, playground, volleyball court, outdoor pool, dog park and car wash. There are also community programs such as literacy training, employment assistance and family support coordination. The new community will have its own amenities, including a pool and clubhouse.

The Phase I engineer is Wicks Engineering Services of Tavares. The surveyor is Precision Surveying & Mapping of New Port Richey.

This year, Housing Trust Group completed five new affordable housing developments in Florida. Among them are Freedom Gardens in Brooksville, with 94 units, Princeton Park in Miami-Dade County, with 150 units, and Twin Lakes in Lakeland, with 100 senior units.

Currently under construction or nearing completion are The Addison, a mixed-income community in Bradenton with 90 units, Isles of Pahokee, with 129 senior units, and The Palms at Town Center in Palm County, with 88 units of workforce housing. HTG also has a contract on a Kissimmee site with plans to build a 102-unit affordable housing complex for seniors.

The company has two market-rate developments outside Florida: Forest Cove in Chattanooga, Tenn. and Aviva in Mesa, Ariz.

“We’re looking at new developments all over the state of Florida,” Rieger said. “We’re expanding into Georgia, Texas and Arizona only because it is so important to see if we can solve this affordable housing crisis – not just in Florida, which obviously is our home base, but all around the country.”

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Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at Newsroom@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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