Pinellas Park council okays affordable apartments on Park Boulevard

PINELLAS PARK — Council members narrowly approved a zoning change to transform a used car lot into low-cost apartments.

The 3-2 vote on Sept. 25 clears the way for a three-building, 60-unit complex on about 3.5 acres called Parkside Commons Apartments to be built on the south side of Park Boulevard. The land, 6740 Park Blvd., is a little less than a block west of 66th Street N. It is across from the Lodges, a 120-unit affordable apartment complex, and adjacent to the Park Ridge Mobile Home Park.

The Greco Family Ltd. Partnership owns the property, which has an assessed value of about $462,000, according to Pinellas County Property Appraiser’s records. The AVID Group, an engineering and land development firm with offices in Palm Harbor, is designing the complex.

The complex will have 36 two bedroom/two bath apartments at least 900 square feet each; 16 three bedroom/two bath units at least 1,100 square feet each; and eight four bedroom/two bath apartments at least 1,275 square feet each.

Rent is expected to be $700 a month for the two-bedrooms, $805 for the three, and $889 for the four. Six of the units will be at even lower rents, from $450 to about $600 per month.

Voting against the zoning change were Pinellas Park Mayor Sandy Bradbury and council member Patti Johnson.

Johnson said she was concerned about the concentration of affordable housing in that area of Pinellas Park as well as the eventual impact on the city’s tax base. The city, she said, needs to have a "balance of properties" of all types and income levels in order to finance infrastructure improvements.

"I basically believe in assisted housing," Johnson said. However, she said, "I’m looking for balance. I don’t want to make it hard on anyone (but) there has to be some balance. There has to be a plan."

Johnson was echoing concerns from some city staff and members of Pinellas Park’s planning and zoning commission, which recommended by a 5-2 vote that council members approve the proposal.

During a discussion of the plan during the zoning commission meeting, zoning coordinator Joe Aukstikalnis said one staff member was concerned "because of the concentration of the affordable housing with the units that are across the street as well as these additional units that a greater concentration of people could produce larger traffic impacts and such."

Zoning board member Lou Bommattei said he, too, was concerned about the high "concentration of population in a small area of real estate."

He added, "I think we really need to take a close look at that. If the Lodges is as successful as it is, this may be detrimental to them and we are adding a problem into the mix. Are we in some way transferring a problem to the future for us to deal with? I’m quite concerned about that."

Contact Anne Lindberg at alindberg@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8450. Follow @alindbergtimes.

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