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While an affordable housing development in Sarasota gets scrapped, Bradenton getting a major lift

A proposal for a significant addition to Sarasota’s affordable housing stock, already critically inadequate like elsewhere in the country, has been shelved as impractical because of financial and regulatory hurdles. Instead, One Stop Housing is pursuing an entirely different concept for a portion of its property just east of downtown on Fruitville Road.

Meanwhile, construction on a similarly large development in the city of Bradenton progresses toward an August completion, and on May 2 the Miami-based developer, the Housing Trust Group, received the Manatee County Commission’s unanimous and laudatory approval for another big rental complex.

While One Stop Housing and HTG both concentrate on creating affordable housing, the two companies secure financing in contrasting ways. Various federal, state and municipal funds and tax credits support the Miami company’s construction of The Addison. Those come with restrictions on income limits that keep units affordable for decades. One Stop uses private capital (from its own resources, aided by angel investors and bank loans), is not bound by government income rules and does not ask to review income documents of its tenants. The company only works with cities for relief on impact fees.

One Stop Housing
pursuing other projects

More than a decade in the planning, the late Harvey Vengroff’s Sarasota Station, a planned 368-unit apartment complex, finally fell victim to impact fees, which put the cost per unit outside the affordability range that One Stop Housing charges at its converted motels and other apartments.

But that’s not keeping One Stop Housing from expanding its collection of below-market-rate rentals. Mark Vengroff, Harvey’s eldest son and an owner/partner in One Stop Housing along with his brother, Travis, intends to complete his father’s plan for new construction at Robin’s Apartments in Manatee County just outside of Bradenton.

The converted motel currently holds 240 units with rents of $700 and $725. “That’s all inclusive,” Vengroff said in an interview. Tenants do not pay for water, electricity, cable or internet.

“We are definitely planning to build 200 two-bedroom units on the vacant land there,” he said. “We’re working on the design phase now.”

One Stop Housing’s headquarters is in a converted motel on North Tamiami Trail within walking distance of the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee and New College. University Row currently holds 101 furnished efficiency and one-bedroom units.

“Here we want to build another 16 units,” Vengroff said. The mixed-use building will contain offices intended as an “incubator for businesses,” he said, adding that an insurance company is already in the complex.

More units in Bradenton 

Bradenton will soon have The Addison, on the southeast corner of Sixth Avenue East and Ninth Street East, a prime location for employees of Manatee Memorial Hospital and Tropicana. The mixed-use, mixed-income, five-story building is 72% complete, Matt Rieger, the president and CEO of the Housing Trust Group, said in a phone interview from Miami.

HTG’s next Manatee County development will be the recently approved Oaks at Creekside, an apartment complex of four three-story buildings on 16.3 acres at 3505 53rd Ave. E.

The 96 apartments will include one-, two- and three-bedroom units ranging from 673 to 1,150 square feet. Rents will be priced for households with incomes ranging from $15,000 to $42,000. Amenities will feature a clubhouse, picnic and barbecue pavilion, swimming pool, playground and gazebos.

Because financing for the Oaks at Creekside included federal tax credits from the Florida Housing Finance Corp., the project must meet affordability criteria for 50 years.

HTG, the top affordable housing developer in Florida and one of the largest in the nation, broke ground on The Addison June 4, 2018. The complex will feature 77 affordable apartments and 13 market-rate units, with monthly rents ranging from $328 to $1,400, depending on resident income. Nine units will be set aside for residents earning at or below 35 percent of area median income; 68 will be for residents earning at or below 60 percent of AMI; and the remaining 13 will be market-rate units. The Sarasota-Manatee AMI is around $70,000.

The one-, two- and three-bedroom units range in size from 660 square feet to 1,065 square feet. Amenities will include a fitness center, club room, locker storage, resort-style pool, dog park, playground, media center, and 600 square feet of retail space.

The company holds high standards in its construction. “We always want to build to that next level,” Rieger said. “That’s very, very important to us.”

The Addison is being financed with a $15.5 million construction loan from Fifth Third Bank; approximately $14.57 million of 9 percent housing credit equity from Raymond James Tax Credit Funds; a $2 million State Apartment Incentive Loan (SAIL); a Community Development Block Grant loan from the city of Bradenton; and a $5.125 million permanent loan from SunTrust Bank.

“It’s extraordinarily difficult to secure the financing,” Rieger said. “We oftentimes compete for this precious resource at the state level. For example, there are 50 applications for two developments that are going to get funded.”

Oaks at Creekside apparently won’t be HTG’s last development here. “We’re looking at several other opportunities,” he said. “We were really close a year ago ... but unfortunately that did not come to fruition.”

Different outcomes, visions

Manatee County moved quickly to change regulations, approve zoning changes and promote One Stop’s Robin’s Apartments project. “Manatee County’s been phenomenal to work with,” Vengroff said.

The Sarasota Station project began a decade ago. It took that long to secure a zoning change, Harvey Vengroff said in an interview months before his passing. In Manatee County, zoning approvals took six months.

“I don’t have as much energy as he did to fight the city,” Mark Vengroff said of his father’s efforts to get Sarasota Station off the ground.

One Stop Housing now has a clear vision for the Station site, which will remain the headquarters for Vengroff Williams Inc. and some 300 employees. Along with his partners, Harvey Vengroff built a billion-dollar business in billing and credit collection, servicing many of the Fortune 1000.

“The city really doesn’t want affordable housing,” Mark Vengroff said. “Or at least in that space.

“We explored a number of different opportunities. We actually looked at selling the land.”

But the Vengroff family is focused on creating a Museum of Consciousness, inspired by Carol Lynn Vengroff’s 2012 book, “My Ever After Chronicles.” The book explores her near-death experience, offering readers “information about the afterlife and answering many of their profound questions about life and ... heaven,” according to the book section. Mark’s stepmother chronicles the time when she was 12 living in France and came close to freezing to death.

The family formed AWOW, a nonprofit, for the museum. His father wasn’t planning on creating the museum at the Sarasota Station site.

“When the city kept pushing back on his vision to do affordable housing there, we decided let’s do this other portion there,” Mark Vengroff said. “He definitely had a vision for this concept.

“So we said how do we give back to folks in the area in a way that is conducive to kind of his vision, but still compliant with the city. So what we ended up doing was Carol had her book and we said let’s make it a Museum of Consciousness that brings something positive back into the neighborhood and brings the land into something very useful.

“That’s where the first exhibit of many will be.”

The museum’s mission will be mostly focused on millennials with high-tech that provides “a very experiential learning opportunity” with interactive and popup exhibits that are constantly changing, he said.

In The News

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Posted on September 28, 2017 by Lisa D

Affordable Housing

One of the long-closed Motels in Kissimmee on U.S. Highway 192 is being brought back to life as a permanently affordable housing development called the Backlot Apartments. 

The Travelodge once welcomed weary travelers making their way to the area around the Walt Disney World.

Just a half-mile west of the proposed Margaritaville Resort on U.S. 192, the Backlot Apartments rentals will be mostly efficiencies with hot-plate cooking and rents of $750, utilities included, which is considered affordable on an income of about $25,000. Food-service workers in the metro area earn a midpoint wage of $26,050, according to the federal government.

Osceola counties ranked third nationally for its lack of housing for extremely low-income residents, according to a study released earlier this year by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. With just 18 rentals available for every 100 very low-income families, only Las Vegas and Los Angeles had a bigger shortfall.

The only requirements to live at Backlot Apartments are to have a job or be disabled. But it is an effort to start the ball rolling in Osceola County to offer some of the families perpetually stuck in those motels off U.S. Route 192 a fighting chance to some sense of normalcy and a home


8600 West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway  

 Kissimmee, FL 34747

407-274-0390 Main   Kissimmee Property Manager Frank

New affordable housing complex back on the table in Sarasota

SARASOTA, FL (WWSB) - Affordable housing developer Harvey Vengroff is known in Sarasota for building affordable housing.

Back in January, he called it quits on his most recent project, saying that the city made it so difficult, the housing complex would no longer be affordable.

But Thursday, Vengroff announced that Sarasota City Commissioner Hagen Brody has brought him back to reconsider. 

"You haven't solved the problem," Vengroff said. "What are you gonna do to solve the problem?"

Vengroff has the solution that's worked all over the country.

"We're doing things in the state of Washington, we're doing things in Jacksonville, we're doing things in Georgia. Why not here?"

Vengroff's been successful in bringing 1,800 apartments to the Sarasota and Bradenton area, too. 

But after years of planning to bring another complex to Fruitville Road in January, Vengroff became frustrated with city staff. 

"People in other cities have said, 'geeze you guys do affordable housing, that's great, come on over here and we'll give you free land, we'll help you in anyway we can, we'll ease the restrictions and we'll make it happen.'"

But that wasn't the case in Sarasota, so Vengroff quit after getting up to $300,000 in bills just to get permitting.

Until, Thursday. 

"Today is a good day for affordable housing," City Commissioner Hagen Brody said. "Harvey Vengroff has agreed to come back to the table with his affordable housing project in the City of Sarasota and we couldn't be more thrilled, because this community desperately needs more workforce and affordable housing."

The original plan was for five six-story buildings, but they've scaled that down quite a bit.

Vengroff plans to bring 150 two bedroom apartments with an average rent of $700 to the eight acres of land.

"But then we have to start looking at all the fees and there are several million dollars worth of fees," said Joe Barnette, project manager for the housing complex. "And any fee at the beginning ends up being charged to the renters."

That's where the city comes in.

"I don't think it's any secret that it is tough to get things done in the City of Sarasota and we're trying to change that," said Commissioner Brody.

Vengroff said they can only move forward if the group comes to some sort of agreement with the City over the millions of dollars in building fees.

He added that while a luxury condo developer might be able to afford $38,000 to document the weeds, he cannot.

Copyright 2018 WWSB. All Rights Reserved.

Vengroff revisits affordable housing project in Sarasota

Jul 5, 2018

SNN: Affordable housing helps provide a second chance



Looking for a job? This Bradenton apartment complex will host hiring fair, open house

By Ryan Callihan

May 22, 2018 12:42 PM

Updated May 22, 2018 03:22 PM


A local apartment complex that provides affordable housing for low-income residents has partnered with multiple organizations to host an open house and job fair on Tuesday, May 29.

Robin's Apartment recently completed renovations of its 240 units that offer rent from $700 with utilities included. The event will run from 3-7 p.m at 2303 First St. E.

HomeStead Group will be one of the major employers searching for new hires at the job fair. For those who struggle with transportation, the company will establish a branch location on-site at Robin's Apartments.

Read more here:

"HomeStead has found several larger corporate firms that are looking to help local communities by providing clerical and back office positions at Robin’s apartments, as opposed to having the work handled by an off-shore outsourcing firm," said Mark Vengroff with One Stop Housing, owners of the apartment complex.

The Women's Resource Center and Turning Points also plans to attend the fair and introduce visitors to the social programs that they offer. The Taco Spot is set to open a new restaurant at the apartment complex in August and serve samples of their menu items at the event.

Those interested in attending the open house and job fair are asked to dress for success and bring copies of their resume for review.

Robin's Apartments was formerly known as Knights Inn. Monthly rent is about $700 for a 300 square-foot studio, and there are one-bedroom units available as well.

For more information, call (941) 400-8569 or visit

The Robin's Apartment complex is located at 2303 First St. E. in Bradenton. Bradenton Herald file photo

Read more here:

Harvey Vengroff