St. Pete to see 50 more affordable housing units in Innovation District

Pinellas County

(Image: Pinellas County, Innovare design render)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — As part of the City of St. Petersburg’s continuing efforts to bring more affordable housing to the community, a new investment will have 50 more affordable homes break ground in the Innovation District.

Pinellas County announced the project on Nov. 5, with 50 homes to come to St. Petersburg’s Innovation District thanks to support from Pinellas County’s Penny for Pinellas Affordable Housing Program. The investment is a $17 million effort to bring affordability to the downtown district. The announcement did not include a development timeline.

Once it starts, the Innovare development will build at 850 5th Avenue South. The project is being developed by Volunteers of America of Florida, according to county officials. The faith-based, human services organization has a local office in St. Petersburg.

“We at Volunteers of America of Florida are so grateful to all of our partners for their commitment to helping homeless and in-need Floridians find a place to call home and heal. As a collaborative, our dedication and commitment is so strong that not even the terrible weather could stop us from breaking ground today,” said Janet Stringfellow, the president and CEO of Volunteers of America of Florida.

Penny for Pinellas is an affordable housing program with an $80 million fund. The organization describes itself as being “dedicated to expanding affordable housing over the next decade is available to support qualified development and rehabilitation projects.”

The funding for the program comes from a voter-approved 1 percent sales tax, plus investments from public and private sources to develop more affordable housing in Pinellas County.

Penny for Pinellas supported $1 million to acquire the land for Innovare, with the City of St. Petersburg and the Florida Housing Finance Corporation providing additional financial support, according to officials.

“We know in Pinellas County we don’t do anything without partnerships,” Justice said. “We’ve made a commitment for the next decade to being a partner in affordable housing with millions of dollars every year that we’re putting forward.”

Since 2020, the Pinellas County Commission says it has committed more than $23 million to eight developments. Those projects are expected to create 884 units restricted to affordable rents. The long-term goal for Pinellas County is “is to build a coalition of municipalities, agencies, developers and other local leaders committed to a common vision for addressing one of the biggest challenges facing the community today.”

Pinellas County officials say Innovare represents one of the first groundbreakings in a new round of voter-funded developments created by the penny sales tax. The tax will support the $80 million fund over the next 10 years to build “housing that’s attainable to everyone.”

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