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Denton Cove plans early 2022 opening

It’s been a long time coming, more than six years, through expensive
court fights, and heated city commission and school board meetings.

And now, with that contentious fight now in the past, Apalachicola
is about to give birth to the first large-scale affordable housing project in
many years.

A little more than a month ago, Wendover Housing Partners
LLC began clearing the site and commencing construction for Denton Cove, a 52-unit
rental complex on 3.66 acres at the former Apalachicola High School site on the
land at 17th Street and Avenue L.

Ryan von Weller, Wendover’s managing director of
real estate development, said the work, handled by Roger B. Kennedy Construction,
out of Orlando, should be complete by the end of the year, with units available
for lease sometime in the first quarter of 2022.

Plans for the complex comprise eight three-bedroom units, 32
two-bedroom units and 12 one-bedroom units. Amenities will include a clubhouse
with activity and gathering room, fitness room, computer center, splash pad,
and tot lot.

Financing for Denton Cove has come through $9.4 million in
federal low-income housing tax credits – $940,000 annually for 10 years – awarded
Wendover by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.

These tax credits, first
granted in 2015, were subsequently extended by FHFC due to Wendover’s involvement in a
protracted court battle, first with the city and later the county school board,
as well as the effects of Hurricane Michael.

The court battle was ultimately resolved in Wendover’s
favor, so that now Denton Cove must have the project in service by the end of
2022 and must expend at least 10 percent of the monies it has been awarded by
the end of this month.

Taylore Maxey, press secretary for FHFC, said with later
additions, the total amount of 9 percent housing credits awarded to Denton Cove
stands at a little more than $1.31 million. In addition Wendover secured a
state-guaranteed viability loan in the amount of $2.25 million, which closed
April 6.

In order to be awarded these federal tax credits, which von
Weller said had been acquired by Bank of America through National Equity Fund,
Inc., a national non-profit syndicator, Wendover proposed a plan to FHFC
that would ensure  the apartments would be rented only to low-income

Maxey said that 10 percent, or six units, are set
aside for residents whose income does not exceed 40 percent of the county’s Area
Median Income, which as of April 1, was $58,700. The remaining 46 units are to be
rented to households whose income is no more than 60 percent of AMI.

This means that based on current numbers, an individual
renter could not make more than $24,420 annually to qualify for one of the 46
units, and that a couple could earn no more than $27,900 between them. A family
of three could not earn more than $31,380 per year, and four no greater than $34,860

For the six lower-income units, the ceilings for a
single-member household would be $16,280; for two residents $18,600; for three
$20,920; and for four-person households $23,240.

As it stands now, the rents, based on numbers provided by
the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, would range from $436 to
$604 per month for the six lower-income units, and between $654 and $906 for
the 46 units.

HUD policy prevents Wendover from limiting applications to
people who live in Franklin County, but von Weller said he does not expect
there to be strong demand from outside the county.

“That is a policy we do not control at all,” he said. “We
anticipate the vast majority will be coming from local areas.”

He said the company has an obligation to try to provide
housing in the complex for disabled individuals, but that there is a time limit
to how long a unit must stay empty if no suitable applicants are found.

Asked about how he would respond to those in the community
who opposed the project, von Weller declined comment.

“We have fully permitted everything required, in terms of stormwater
and utilities,” he said. “We’ve done everything appropriately.”

Apalachicola City Manager Travis Wade told city
commissioners Tuesday evening that Wendover had received its building permit,
and approval for water and sewer.

He sought to dispel rumors that the large mounds of dirt
piled up on the adjacent school board property would be distributed free to
city residents. “That is not the case,” said Wade. “Don’t call the city for a
free truckload of dirt; they’re not giving it away.”

Commissioner Despina George asked that Wade keep a watchful
eye to ensure Wendover is compliant with any city ordinances regarding placing
fill dirt on the property.

Wade said that in excavating the property, the contractor secured
permission from School Superintendent Steve Lanier to place, temporarily, the mounds
of dirt on the bus barn property.

“The expansion of their construction site into the bus barn
area (has) greatly expanded their footprint,” George said. “They have porta-potties
and pipes on city property adjacent to the site. I see trucks coming in with
fill dirt. Are engineers keeping an eye on that?

“All of those issues need to be monitored to see if they’re
in compliance,” she said.

Wade said he did not believe  the city had rules prohibiting
the piling of dirt on adjacent sites, with permission of the landowner. He said
the city has asked that the contractor put up a silt fence, to contain dirt in
the event it rains, and to erect a construction fence.

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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