Rehabilitated Southern Villas now ready to house seniors for ‘decades to come’

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A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Aug. 24 to mark the grand reopening of the Southern Villas Apartments located at 52 Sunrise Blvd., in St. Augustine. Congressman John Rutherford was among the speakers during the event.

The official reopening of the 60-unit complex for low-income seniors brings relief to the growing need for affordable housing in St. Johns County. According to data gathered by the University of Florida, there are 5,500 seniors (65 years or older) who are cost burdened when it comes to their housing in St. Johns County. That means they pay 30 percent or more of their income on household expenses which includes rent.

Southern Villas was originally constructed in 1982. The construction took less than a year and cost nearly $35,000 per unit. The rehabilitation work, led by Gorman & Company, included replacing kitchens, baths, roofs, windows, flooring and electrical. American Disability Act compliant units were also created. The project included added accessible features and routes, expansion of the community building to provide a larger community room, a screened in porch and a social services office.

St. Johns Housing Partnership, a local nonprofit, partnered with Gorman to secure the funding that came from a combination of low-income housing tax credits and a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Multi-Family Preservation and Revitalization loan. The construction lender and tax credit investor was TD Bank.

“This Grand Reopening is a celebration of what successful partnerships can do to help our communities” said Hana Eskra, Gorman’s Florida Market president. “The improvements to this complex are going to enhance the daily lifestyle of its senior citizen residents and set examples of what can be done to improve affordable housing options in this area.”

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