A community land trust has acquired 2 1/2 acres in central Apopka and will build 24 townhomes in six buildings to provide affordable housing for working families.
Hannibal Square Community Land Trust, a nonprofit based in Winter Park, paid $450,000 for the vacant land at 350 E. 6th Street. The trust has filed paperwork for environmental permits and is negotiating with the City of Apopka on the project, called Apopka Townhomes.
"It seemed like something we could put together and develop really quickly into some really nice units," said Camille Reynolds, executive director of Hannibal Square. "It came up at the right time, and we decided to jump on it."
Community land trusts provide an affordable housing option that allows lower-income workers to purchase homes at a relative discount by separating the cost of the structure from the cost of the land it sits on. The buyer purchases the structure, then leases the land from the trust, reducing the overall cost of the mortgage and down payment needed.
Hannibal townhomes sell for between $155,000 and $235,000, depending on the buyer’s income. The new homeowner also pays reduced taxes because they do not own the land, and receives the financial benefits of home ownership including the deduction of mortgage interest on their income taxes.
In many cases, land held by a municipality is donated to the trust, making such projects even more affordable. That wasn't the case with Apopka Townhomes, however. The land trust bought the tract from a consortium of six landowners who had intended to develop the site themselves, but "for whatever reason" never followed through with the plan, according to Reynolds.
Nonetheless, with its nonprofit status, Hannibal Square is able to tap into grants, zero-percent construction loans, and other benefits to lower the cost of housing. Buyers, meanwhile, can receive down-payment assistance and such services as consumer debt counseling.
The Hannibal trust has recently branched out from its namesake historical neighborhood in Winter Park to the West Lakes neighborhoods and now Apopka. Earlier this year, Hannibal Square was selected by the city of Orlando to build 28 apartments, 30 townhomes and retail space at a 5-acre site near Camping World Stadium.
The Apopka project calls for four units in each of the six buildings of 1,667 square feet each. They will all be three-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath homes a 1-car garage. The conceptual design by Canin Associates calls for glass front doors and large picture windows at the front of the units, with pastel blue and green accents, and garages in the rear.
Preliminary plans also include a park and pavilion within the complex.
Harris Civil Engineers Inc. of Orlando is doing site development.
Reynolds noted that the previous owners had provided infrastructure including power, water and sewer, making the site that much more beneficial.
"It's fairly central, close to Main Street, close to plans for the Apopka City Center. We felt that it was an ideal location," Reynolds said.
Depending on permitting, she said the land trust hopes to break ground in late fall and have the first homes ready to sell by the end of the first quarter or early in the second quarter of 2020.
The Hannibal Square CLT was created in 2004, as a means of preserving homes in its west Winter Park namesake and keep prices affordable. The trust has 21 homes in the neighborhood and three vacant lots it plans to develop.