Tampa's Encore Project Attracts $38 Million in Federal Dollars

The transformation of land once used for a public housing complex east of downtown Tampa took a big step forward recently when the federal government awarded the developers $38 million for infrastructure and foreclosure mitigation.

When finished, the proposed $400 million, five- to eight-year project, known as Encore, would turn a vacant 28-acre parcel into 667 affordable housing homes or apartments; 856 market-rate homes or apartments; and 268,000 square feet of commercial and public development, including grocery stores, offices, a hotel, museum, a school, restaurants and other businesses.

"This is the most exciting day in the history of the project," said Leroy Moore, senior vice president and chief
operating officer of the Tampa Housing Authority, part of the consortium developing Encore. The infrastructure work will take 18 to 24 months, Moore says.

Encore is a unique urban property because it is a link between downtown Tampa and Tampa's historic Ybor City neighborhood. It also sits one block from the proposed light-rail line for the Tampa Bay region and a block from the proposed high-speed rail terminal link to Orlando.

The project would be the city's first master-planned urban green community and provide more than 4,000 construction jobs and 1,000 permanent jobs to the site of the former housing complex was known as Central Park Village. The land is cleared and the city has approved a rezoning for the development.

The infrastructure and mitigation money is coming from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Infrastructure would include items such as roads and sewer lines. The mitigation funds would buy foreclosed houses, rehab them and sell them to people meeting the affordable housing income guidelines.

But where would the money come from for building Encore's homes and businesses? The consortium building the project is looking at different kinds of funding, including the Housing Authority, the city of Tampa, Hillsborough County Housing Finance Authority affordable housing bonds and a private sector partner, Bank of America Community Development Corp. The development consortium includes the Housing Authority, the city of Tampa and Bank of America CDC.

Although it has more development work to do, the consortium was pleased that it received the federal dollars for the Infrastructure because it was the most difficult piece to finance, Moore says.

"The tax-exempt bonds dried up during the last two years," he says. "There was no market for people to buy these bonds. So our best choice was to attract these stimulus dollars."

Writer: Dave Szymanski

Source: Leroy Moore, Tampa Housing Authority
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