Located in the Union Academy Neighborhood within walking distance of downtown Tarpon Springs, Oak Ridge Estates received1000 Friends of Florida’s 2013 Better Community Award. “Oak Ridge Estates provides an outstanding model for communities seeking to promote infill affordable housing in older and historic neighborhoods,” notes 1000 Friends of Florida President Charles Pattison. “It meets a critical community need in an architecturally compatible and sustainable manner.” The award was presented at the October 15 meeting of the Tarpon Springs City Commission.
A $11.4 million dollar project, Oak Ridge Estates replaces five public housing buildings scattered through the Union Academy Neighborhood. The fifteen residential scale townhomes and garden-style apartments that comprise Oak Ridge Estates provide 62 multi-family affordable housing units serving households not exceeding sixty present of the area median income. Designed in the bungalow style to be compatible with the neighborhood, the buildings have also achieved Bronze level certification by the Florida Green Building Coalition.
The Local Community Housing Corporation of the Tarpon Springs Housing Authority fostered the project, with funding secured through the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, HOME funds from the Pinellas County Community Development, and the Pinellas County Housing Trust Fund. HUD approved demolition of five existing public housing buildings to make way for Oak Ridge Estates. The project was co-developed with Pinnacle Housing Group, a nationally renowned affordable housing development company.
1000 Friends of Florida Affordable Housing Director Jaime Ross notes that it takes a great deal of work and layering of financial resources to redevelop affordable housing. “Oak Ridge Estates is more evidence of why it is so important for Florida’s state and SHIP trust funds to be used for housing,” says Ross. “A small amount of SHIP funds were leveraged to make a huge positive impact.”
“All too often, communities demolish older neighborhoods to make way for new development,” says 1000 Friends’ Pattison. “Tarpon Springs is to be commended for choosing sustainable infill development that complements the historic character of one of Pinellas County’s oldest African American neighborhoods.”