New apartments coming to Magnolia-Country Club intersection
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer
Transformation of almost seven acres of land at the intersection of Country Club and Magnolia Drive is expected to be completed within a year, cutting into the city’s affordable housing deficit.
When completed, 110 units in three-story buildings will feature several amenities, including a pool, said Christopher Shear, Chief Operating Officer for the developers, McDowell Housing Partners. Shear also said during an interview with the Outlook that cost of rent will range from a low of $372 for a one-bedroom to a high of $1,062 for a premium three-bedroom unit.
Each structure will have breeze ways through the buildings.
The apartments are being built by the Miami-based company at a time when Tallahassee is experiencing a shortage of affordable housing. The location puts it in one of the most affected areas in the Southside.
“Our goal and mission is to serve workforce and affordable level tenants,” Shear said.
The projected completion time will be a year ahead of redevelopment of the Orange Avenue Apartments. That property owned by the Tallahassee Housing Authority is located less than a half mile south of the McDowell development, along Country Club Drive.
Brenda Williams, executive director of the Tallahassee Housing Authority, was elated about the McDowell development. She expressed optimism that the property could help reduce a THA waiting list of over 9,000 for affordable housing.
“The need is certainly there,” Williams said. “I believe that particular property will also complement what we are doing on Orange Avenue because on our site we are also increasing the number of affordable housing. Both projects, in think, will have a positive impact on the availability of affordable housing in the city of Tallahassee.”
Clearing of the 6.8-acre property started in July after the developers received several forms of funding through the Federal Housing Tax Credit and the Florida Housing Finance Corporation. The Community Redevelopment Agency also added $500,000, Shear said.
In all, the project costs $25 million, he said. Each of the funding sources requires that apartments be rented at affordable housing rates.
Even so there wouldn’t be any skimping on the additional amenities. Plans call for a club house, a computer center and a community meeting area.
It will be “the same as you would see in any Class-A market development,” Shear said. “It will be the same that you would see across the city in the newer apartment communities.”
Building in communities where minorities are the primary residents isn’t uncommon for McDowell Partners, Shear said.
“It’s not something we shy away from when we see the need,” he said. “We see a lot of needs in minority communities, whether that’s the Hispanic or Black community. That’s where we want to help.”
Courtside Family Apartments is a prize-winning development that they partnered on with former Miami Heat player Alonzo Mourning. The 84-unit property is located in the Overtown District of Miami.
Keeping the Tallahassee development on target to begin housing families depends on how expeditiously the government approves permits and inspections, Shear said.
“Those are the things that will allow us to be more efficient and expeditious in delivering these units that will serve the people who are struggling the most,” he said.
The new apartments are also coming at a time when Southside advocate Christic Henry and her husband Karlus are educating residents of the area about the importance of homeownership.
They recently announced the start up of Community Lift to help minorities understand the value of owning a home. Their goal is to bring about 250 new homeowners to the Southside neighborhoods, including new construction and renovations.
With Community Lift, redevelopment of the Orange Avenue Apartments and the McDowell development, Henry predicts an improvement in the quality of life for area residents.
“We are just in an era of opportunity where we can really advocate for this community,” she said. “We can tell people in Southside they deserve safety; they deserve quality and affordable housing; they deserve spaces that bring a different mindset of where they are.
“They deserve a life of dignity within an area that is in proximity to everything. That’s the message here.”