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Jax Daily Record Friday, Oct. 19, 201805:20 AM EST

Vestcor to seek $17 million in tax credits to build the Lofts at Brooklyn

Apartment project will be a mix of affordable and workforce housing, like Lofts at Jefferson Station.
by: David Cawton Associate Editor

With local approvals secured, The Vestcor Companies now will apply to the Florida Housing Finance Corp. for $17 million in tax credits to build a housing development in the Brooklyn area.

The Jacksonville Housing Finance Authority chose Vestcor’s Lofts at Brooklyn development to receive “Local Government Area of Opportunity Funding,” although the company did not request financial support from the JHFA.

Each year, the authority selects one project to represent the six-county area of opportunity at the state level.

“The JHFA approval is a big step and something we’re proud to receive again,” said Ryan Hoover, president of Vestcor’s TVC Development Inc.

The $29 million Lofts at Brooklyn will proceed to the Florida Housing Finance Corp. to apply for Low-Income Housing Tax Credits.

Vestcor plans to build a five-story, 133-unit apartment building on a 1.16-acre site along Spruce Street between Jackson and Stonewall streets in Brooklyn.

Hoover said the project will be a mix of affordable and workforce housing, like Lofts at Jefferson Station.

Vestcor's Lofts at Jefferson Station, which is under construction in nearby LaVilla, is expected to be completed by year-end 2019. All three of Vestcor’s subsidized housing projects in LaVilla have received the backing of the JHFA in recent years.

“It’s going to fit the area well and it's going to be unique considering what’s already there,” he said.

Hoover said the credits provide upfront equity to help offset the loss of rent revenue driven by building affordable and workforce housing.

“This allows us to build housing in a neighborhood that’s in demand right now, at a price that many people can afford,” he said.

Hoover said 80 of the units will be deemed affordable for those earning at or below $29,400 annually, or 60 percent of the average median income. The other 53 units will be reserved for individuals making 80 to 140 percent of the average, capped at $69,600 annually.

The tax credits are in addition to incentives approved by the Downtown Investment Authority in September.

The DIA awarded a $625,750 no-interest, 20-year Local Government Support loan to offset costs for the 80 affordable housing units.

The authority also approved a 15-year Recapture Enhanced Value grant up to $3.98 million. The grant, paid in annual installments, is a refund on a percentage of the new property taxes generated by the project.

“This year was very competitive,” Hoover said. “While we have a very good track record, we’re not taking anything for granted.”

Vestcor competed with two other development firms for the right to apply to the state. It also presented two backup plans for affordable housing projects near San Marco and in Downtown’s Cathedral District.

Hoover said one of the Vestcor projects, Molly’s Crossing, was chosen as a backup if the Brooklyn project doesn’t win state approval.

That plan includes 100 senior residential units at 3036 Philips Highway.

“Part of our leverage is that we didn’t ask the JHFA for any funding, since we were able to secure the loan from the DIA,” said Hoover.

“They’re getting the affordable housing units they want in a neighborhood that needs it without having to spend any local dollars,” he said.

Hoover anticipates an answer from the Florida Housing Finance Corp. by end of the year. Construction could start by early 2019.

“We’re going to go full-speed with design and hopefully move ahead with the project next year,” he said.

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