TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Frankie Torres says there needs to be more affordable housing in the city of Tampa.

“There’s a lot of homeless people out here and I know because I was homeless for nearly 10 years,” she said.

Three years ago, Torres said, she finally found a place she could afford.

“I was like ‘wow, this is heaven sent man, this is heaven sent,’” she said. “I share my apartment with God because he got it for me.”

Now just blocks from her building on North Rome Avenue, the city, Tampa Housing Authority and Related Urban Development Group plan to turn an empty 18-acre property into a neighborhood on the west side of the Hillsborough River.

“In the first three community outreach events the overwhelming feedback we got was desire for affordable housing and affordable home ownership,” Related Urban’s senior development manager Peter Van Warner said, “not just the apartment buildings but also the for sale townhome villas.”

Van Warner told News Channel 8 that 40 townhomes will be sold at 10 percent below the market rate and a majority of the 1,200 apartment units will be income restricted.

“A third affordable, a third workforce and a third market rate,” he explained. “We found that truly developing mixed-income developments, it really helps lift up the community.”

At a celebration Tuesday night featuring a live band and cigar roller symbolizing West Tampa’s Latin history, the developers shared their vision for the riverfront development with community members like Torres.  

“I can’t wait for them to start,” Torres said. “I mean I want to be here just to throw the dirt along with them.”

The projected price tag for the Rome Yard development is more than $250 million. Its construction over the next few years will coincide with the city’s planned expansion of the Tampa Riverwalk on the west side of the river.