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City could see new elder home this year

The owner of two other assisted living facilities wants to open a third in Hyde Park North, but not before revamping his site.

By SUSAN THURSTON, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 8, 2002

The owner of two assisted living facilities in Lutz and Town 'N Country plans to open a third in a dilapidated duplex in Hyde Park North.

Manuel Rodriguez has applied to run a home for the elderly at 320 S Delaware Ave. The Abigail House would serve mostly women ages 75 and up who need help with bathing, meals and other daily activities.

Rodriguez bought the building two years ago and hopes to start work soon on a back addition. He goes before the city of Tampa's Variance Review Board on Tuesday to request a waiver to reduce the side setback requirements from 7 feet to 4.72.

Rodriguez estimates the project will take about six months. The duplex has been boarded up and needs extensive renovations. Once completed, it will house up to 12 clients whowill pay $2,500 a month for meals and round-the-clock care.

The site, zoned multifamily residential, has a long history as an assisted living facility. Before Rodriguez took over, Millie's Retirement Home operated there for 18 years.

Rodriguez said his facility will blend well with the neighborhood, a mix of single-family houses, townhomes, apartments and businesses. In all, the project will cost upwards of $500,000.

"I promise that it will be a pleasant-looking residence," he said. "We are in no way going to take away from the community. You're not going to see wheelchairs in the streets or people wandering around."

Neighbors have mixed reactions to the plans. The area has experienced a renaissance of sorts in recent years, with the construction of new, expensive homes and condos.

"Right now, north of Swann (Avenue) has become more and more residential. To have a business there concerns me," said David Isele, who lives in the area. Isele, who moved to the neighborhood in 1980, said he would rather see a house or townhomes. He can't understand why the city approved the facility without seeking input from neighbors.

City zoning administrators granted Rodriguez a special-use permit in April to run an assisted living facility on the property. The use is allowed under the multifamily zoning and, therefore, did not require City Council's approval.

Rodriguez owns similar state-licensed facilities in Lutz and Town 'N Country: the Austin House on Van Dyke Road and the Alexa on Hulsey Road, both named after his children.

Neither has active complaints with the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration.

-- Susan Thurston can be reached at (813) 226-3394 or

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