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Townhome proposal dropped

An official says a project on 22nd Street S would not work because the area has not been revitalized.

By LEONORA LaPETER

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 23, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- Mayor David Fischer's proposal to build townhomes on the site of the former Mercy Hospital off 22nd Street S will not be pursued by the St. Petersburg Housing Authority.

The authority has plans to subsidize mortgages for up to 140 single-family homes anywhere in St. Petersburg with part of its $27-million grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to rebuild Jordan Park. Only residents eligible for public housing would be able to buy the homes, which would have more affordable mortgages.

Fischer had suggested that the authority use some of the $1.8-million available for the mortgages to build townhomes on vacant property behind the former Mercy Hospital. But the authority's board rejected that idea Thursday.

Darrell J. Irions, the authority's executive director, told the board he didn't think the authority would be able to sell townhomes on 22nd Street S because the area has not been revitalized yet.

"I think townhomes would be a tough sell in that community," Irions said.

Board members agreed, deciding they will find other locations to provide prospective homeowners with affordable mortgages.

The Mercy Hospital site is just two blocks from the Jordan Park public housing complex, which has been partly demolished and will feature 237 new apartments, duplexes and single-family homes for public housing residents. The first few units are expected to open in August. The development is expected to be completed in November 2002.

Also Thursday, the authority's external auditor, Jim Barker of Malcolm Johnson & Co., told the board that the authority's finances were "clean." The auditor did find incomplete files at the Graham Park facility. He did not address deficiencies found by HUD's inspector general last year.

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