Midtown housing project revitalized

Residents learn about new plans for units on MLK Boulevard

Midtown
DUANE C. FERNANDEZ SR./ HARDNOTTSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM
Daytona Beach Commissioner Paula Reed talks about Midtown Manor at a meeting on Monday.

BY ANDREAS BUTLER
DAYTONA TIMES

Midtown Lofts, also referred to as MLK Lofts, could become Midtown Manor.

The deal for the property on the east side of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard between El Dorado Street and Cherry Street was originally planned to be upscale student housing. Now the shift is to affordable housing for working-class people. 

At the current location are some homes and the now-closed Safari Lounge.

A community meeting was held on Monday at the Dickerson Community Center in Daytona Beach about the project. The meeting was hosted by Daytona Beach City Commissioner Paula Reed, who represents Zone 6. 

“The purpose of tonight was to share some good news with the community. There is a developer that still wants to do something with us and something for us,” Reed told those who attend the meeting. 

Presentation by developers 

Ken Bowran, a managing partner for Beneficial Communities, a Sarasota-based real estate agency, said the company wants to develop the property. Local real estate consultant Jeannette Duerr also attended the meeting. 

The developers and city staffers gave a presentation, then took questions from the audience. 

Heron Development Group owns the property. Heron and Bethune-Cookman University have an ongoing lawsuit over the failed student housing deal at the site. 

Midtown
Daytona Commissioner Quanita May (second from right) was among those attending the meeting.

Sale in the works 

Heron and Beneficial Communities are working on a property sale.

“Heron still owns the property. We have to purchase it from them. The price is around $2 million. We are in discussions. The application process has already begun,’’ Bowran told the Daytona Times. 

Concern about homes 

Most residents voiced support for the endeavor but there are concerns.

Barbara Young, who lives on El Dorado Street, is concerned about her home.

“When this first came about, there were three of us on my corner of the street that didn’t sell our homes,’’ Young stated. “I’m now hearing that we are in trouble. Are you coming in to try to take our homes?” 

Bowran replied, “No, we already have all the property needed for this project.” 

Sustainability questions

Code enforcement issues also came up. 

Asked Schemetta Wilson: “This is a great idea but how can you do that when the surrounding area looks the way it does? You’re putting a brand-new building into an area where everything else looks the way it does? 

Reed answered, “We have got to start somewhere. Maybe this is something that can be a catalyst for more things to come in this community.” 

The Rev. Kennedy Jacobs questioned the sustainability. 

He said, “Can this sustain itself? When you build something like this, you need businesses that can sustain the area. We don’t have that here. Where do you get your coffee?

“They’ve put money into Margaritaville. Look at the businesses coming there. We put money into the Tanger Outlets. No money is being spent on businesses in this community. It has to be done in the Black community. Howard University in Washington, D.C. is an example of how to make it happen.” 

Bowran responded, “It must be a full public and private partnership. Everyone in the community needs to be involved.” 

Housing unit features 

Ideal tenants cited would include Bethune-Cookman support staff, local school system support staff, health care support staff, nurses, police, firefighters and teachers. 

Plans call for an 82-unit, four-story structure with one, two and three bedrooms. 

Olive Grove – at 765 W. Grenada Blvd. in Ormond Beach – which is owned by Beneficial Communities, is a possible example. 

Features will include washers and dryers, a fitness center, energy-efficient appliances, a computer center and a community center. 

Rent could range from $349 for a one-bedroom to $795 for a three-bedroom based on income figures for tenants earning 40 to 60 percent of the county’s median income. Volusia County’s medium income ranges from $17,160 to $36,720 per year. 

Low rents are possible due to the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit, which allows developers like Beneficial Community to apply for grants through the Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC).

Construction would be $18 million and is expected to take 12 to 14 months; $16 million could come from tax credits. 

The application deadline is late October. Obstacles remain, but there is confidence. 

“There is a possibility that we won’t get approved with there being hundreds of applicants statewide. If not approved, we’ll reapply next year,” added Bowran. 

On tax credits 

The Daytona Beach Housing Authority applies for the same tax credits for its projects. 

Dr. Irma Jamison, a Housing Authority employ-ee asked: “We’re putting in the bid as well. What makes you think you’ll get it and we won’t?’’ 

Borwan responded, “The city can choose. It’s local preference. The state usually picks four building projects a year for these tax credits.” 

The city could assist with a $425,625 loan issued after construction to be paid back in full with 3 percent interest six months after receiving tax credits. The item will be on the Oct. 1 regular city commission meeting agenda. 

Community Partners must remain in the deal for 15 years. 

Beneficial Communities has over 3,000 apartment complexes nationwide, including in Florida, Georgia and Texas.

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