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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Oct. 25, 201812:39 PM EST

Affordable apartments coming to West Jacksonville

Ability Housing outlines plans of $18.68 million Village at Hyde Park project.
by: Jay Schlichter Staff Writer

A nonprofit organization that develops and operates affordable apartment complexes in Florida broke ground Thursday morning on an 80-unit complex in West Jacksonville.

Ability Housing announced details of its plan to build Village at Hyde Park on 5.17 acres at 6480 Watergate Lane. The ceremony was attended by local elected officials, company representatives and community leaders.

Construction of the $18.68 million project is set to begin in November and is estimated to take 12 months to complete.

The 80 apartments, all within a three-story building, will be available to those making no more than 60 percent of the median income in Jacksonville's Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is $29,400 for a single person or $41,940 for a family of four. Some units will be available for those making less than 30 percent of the median income, said Ability Housing President and CEO Shannon Nazworth.

“All housing prices have escalated in Florida, but wages are not going up at the same rate,” Nazworth said prior to the ceremony. “Jacksonville isn't as bad as other markets in Florida, like Miami and Orlando. But we still have a great need, unfortunately.”

Mel Martínez, the former U.S. senator and chairman of the Southeast U.S. and Latin America for JPMorgan Chase & Co., spoke at the event. He said Florida has become a place where many people want to live and are coming in by droves every day, but that they are discovering that housing here is not affordable. The Orlando resident added that organizations like Ability Housing make that dream possible for some.

Jacksonville City Council member Garrett Dennis, who represents the area, said he thought government entities would be able to solve the local housing crisis. However, he said he quickly realized that the city needs help from groups like Ability Housing, and that they provided him with countless hours of assistance to understand the desperate need for affordable places to live in Jacksonville.

Of the 80 units, 20 units will be accessible to individuals with mobility impairments and eight units will be designed for people with hearing or vision loss. The building will comprise 43 one-bedroom units, 23 two-bedroom units and 14 three-bedroom units.

The building will have about 3,800 square feet of common area with a library, computer lab, conference room, office space for property managers and resident services and more. Outdoor amenities will include a playground, seating areas and open recreation space.

JPMorgan Chase helped Ability Housing finance the project through a construction loan and equity investment. It also invested $150,000 to help the organization expand its 2018 Villages Program to build more affordable rental housing in the state.

The organization bought the land for $450,000 in December 2017. Forum Architecture & Interior Design Inc. is the project architect and Sauer Inc. is the general contractor.

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